Each week, we ask Page Gallery artists the same five questions. This week, we asked David Jacobson, who has glass birds in our spring windows this week.
1. How did you end up focusing on your chosen medium?
My freshman year at Kent State University,in Ohio, I was walking on the commons one spring day, and noticed that the glassblowing studio had set up outside to do a demonstration for everybody. I saw two guys, holding blowpipes, running in opposite directions with a strand of hot glass stretching out between them like a taffy pull. I went over to watch more closely, and that was it. I said to myself that I had to learn how to do that. And that was the moment. It took a few more years, and a few more colleges before I pursued glassblowing for my college degree. And even then, I got sidetracked with a professional career as a cartoonist for newspapers and magazines. But, I always knew I would return to glass.
2. Tell me about an inspiration to your work. Book, exhibit, experience?
I was fortunate enough to get accepted into the very first class at the Corning Museum of Glass new glass studio, in 1996. The class was taught by Lino Tagliapietra, from Murano, Italy, and considered to be the best glassblower in the world. And still is. A maestro. Lino started working with glass when he was 13. He was probably around 65 for the class. This class was held just two years after my return to glassblowing. To watch Lino at work was magical. I had never seen someone with such artistry and fluidity work like that before. His mastery of the material, his timing, the confidence with which he executed his moves was beauty to behold. We all got to help him in his process, and to actively assist him in the making of his pieces, and ask questions. But, the highlight, the turning point, was when I was working on a piece, having difficulty with the new technique, and Lino came over, sat down on the bench with me, leaned over my shoulder, took the tool I was using, changed the grip on my hand, and said,Like this, like this, in a very encouraging voice. He stayed there for a while, watching, correcting, repeating. I really appreciated him taking that direct approach with me. That, and watching him work for a full week filled me with inspiration that I can still call upon.
3. What do you listen to when creating in the studio?
Music is always on in the studio. As soon as I walk in. In fact, a good sound system is critical to me. And I love to listen to all types of music throughout the day. I change the music depending on my mood, what kind of work I will be doing, who are the people in there with me, and what time of day it is. I have settled into using Spotify. I have various stations. Electric Blues Guitar, Classic Rock, Motown (my favorite, and my Go To when I want to smile), World Music (what I play when I give lessons. It seems to be universally enjoyed), jazz, and meditative/yoga music (generally, when I first get in there.) Music and its energy are a very important component to glassblowing.
4. What is your favorite tool/supply? Is there a non-work related item in your studio that has significant value to you?
I think I would have to say that my glassblowing bench is my favorite item or supply in my studio. For a couple of reasons. For one, it is the center of all the creativity and the making of any piece. Glassblowing is very active, but all of the activity always come back to the bench. The design of it is extremely important. The height, the width, the length. Its ability to hold all of the necessary tools in an efficient manner. Everyone’s bench is basically derived from the standard Murano bench blueprint from hundreds of years ago. And then everyone customizes it. The other reason my bench is my favorite item is that I chose to make it using some of my 200 year-old wood from my house. My home was built in 1814. Wide plank floors run throughout the house, and even up in my attic. There are extra boards in my attic , and I took two of them to act as the sitting part of my bench. Gorgeous, pumpkin pine, 26 inches wide, grace the top of my bench. Varnished in an Eggshell finish, this wood and the bench overall add a history and energy to my studio that I appreciate every time I see it.
5. How does your studio process change with the seasons in Maine? Do you ever take an extended break from your art practice?
I tend to warm up creatively with the seasons. So, I feel myself ramping up in March, and I am at my strongest, most prolific, during the summer months, and continue through Christmas. Winter time I regroup.. Fortunately, that coincides with my production needs for galleries and my studio. I never take any extended breaks from creating. It makes me itchy and restless. I am always working on something, in some form. I am also a cartoonist, so I am always thinking and sketching for that, as well. And, I see how I can incorporate that thinking into my glass, sometimes.