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Talking Out Your Glass podcast

As editor of Glass Art magazine from 1987 to March 2019, Shawn Waggoner has interviewed and written about multitudes of the world’s greatest artists working glass in the furnace, torch, and on the table. Rated in iTunes News and Noteworthy in 2018, Talking Out Your Glass continues to evolve, including interviews with the nation’s finest borosilicate artists making both pipes and sculpture on the torch. Other current topics include how to work glass using sustainable practices and how artists address the topics of our times such as climate change, the political chasm, and life in the age of technology.
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Your Podcast Source for Interviews and Information on

Hot, Warm and Cold Glass!

www.glassartmagazine.com

Jan 7, 2022

Grant Garmezy: Elevating Sculpted Glass to Narrative Work

With a passion for hot sculpting animals in glass, Grant Garmezy perfected his ability to capture not only form, but expression and movement, elevating each piece from just sculpture into a narrative work of art. From his Dragon Ranch in Richmond, Virginia, the artist continues to draw inspiration from the environment of the American South.

Says Garmezy: “Nature is truly perfect in its creation—impossible to reproduce. I do not strive to recreate the natural world exactly; instead, I try to capture the essence of the animal I am sculpting, not only in its physical features, but also its attitude and spirit.”

Garmezy’s work is created through the process of off-hand sculpting, meaning he sculpts the glass freehand while it is heated to about 2,000 degrees. Using an extremely hot torch and a variety of hand tools, the glass is manipulated without the use of molds. For that reason, each and every piece is truly unique. The artist works with at least one assistant, but most of the work requires the help of an entire team of skilled artists.

Born on a farm outside Nashville, Tennessee, Garmezy began his artistic career as an apprentice to metal and jewelry fabricator, Ben Caldwell. In 2003, he traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). While in the Craft/Material Studies program, he studied under Jack Wax, a furnace worker, and flameworker, Emilio Santini. Garmezy received the 10 Under 10 award from his alma mater, honoring 10 noteworthy and distinctive alumni of VCU who graduated in the past decade.  

In 2008, Garmezy was awarded the International North Lands Creative Glass Residency in Scotland. While there, he was presented with the Benno Schotz Award through The Royal Scottish Academy for most promising young sculptor in the UK. In 2010, the artist served as teaching assistant for Karen Willenbrink and Jasen Johnsen at Pilchuck Glass School and the following year was awarded a position as an assistant at the new Chrysler Museum of Art Perry Glass Studio. During his time in Norfolk, he helped to break in the new studio and had a hand in shaping it into what it is today. 

In July 2013, Garmezy was invited back to Norfolk as the featured artist for a Third Thursday performance at the Perry Glass Studio. At the conclusion of the evening, Grant surprised now wife Erin—and the entire audience—by taking a knee and proposing marriage to her. The special moment was very fitting to their relationship and is fondly remembered by all who were there to witness it. The husband-and-wife team returned to the Perry Glass Studio in September 2020 for the Visiting Artist Series, where they focused on a new series of works featuring reptiles and snakes coupled with sculpted flowers. 

The pastoral environment of Garmezy’s youth— specifically interactions with livestock, wildlife, and natural settings—manifests in collaborative sculptures with Erin, which are typically pairings of flora and fauna. Erin moved from blowing glass vessels at the furnace to sculpting glass plant life on a torch when she studied with VCU professor Santini, and later Robert Mickelsen and David Willis. 

Having traveled as far as the Northlands of Scotland, and Seoul, South Korea, to demonstrate his craft, Garmezy has studied with Scott Darlington, Ross Richmond, Martin Janecky, Raven Skyriver, Marc Petrovic, Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen and Jasen Johnsen. He has been invited to exhibit his work all over the world, including Seoul, Edinburgh, Prague, Paris, and Istanbul. Upcoming 2022 workshops will take place at the Toledo Museum of Art, May 9 – 13

https://www.toledomuseum.org/master-class

and at the Glass Furnace in Istanbul, May 30 – June 9

https://www.glassfurnace.org/intensives-workshops-2/

In 2020, Garmezy embarked on the most ambitious project of his career – hot sculpting 200 glass dragons for Kugler color company in Germany. Kugler hand-crafts a wide range of colored glass based on recipes passed on for generations. Garmezy and Kugler worked together with Hot Glass Color Supply to design a new color reference chart. A glass color chart is a reference that shows examples of what each glass color looks like. It is a resource for glass artists to help them choose the correct colors for their projects. As a sculptor, Garmezy always wished for a resource that showed more than one way the color can be used. The goal was to create a chart that demonstrated the bar color encased and blown, as well as powder color applied to the surface of the glass and sculpted. 

Says Garmezy: “I created one dragon sculpture for each of the colors on the poster. It was important that each dragon head was a similar size and style, but each completely unique. This color chart will give both blowers and sculptors a good idea of the potential of each color. We chose the image of the dragon because dragon imagery can be found in cultures around the world, and its symbolism brings to mind good luck, fortune, wisdom and strength – things we wish for all glass artists out there.”