Hi there! Thank you for joining us again. The Michigan Glass Project is just one month away and we are getting more and more excited about what's in store for this years main event! I would like to mention that we are searching for lots of volunteers. We have five days worth of work: volunteers who work one shift get a free day pass and volunteers who work two or more shifts get a free weekend pass. It would mean a lot to us if you volunteered your time for our cause, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
I'm excited to introduce one of our best local artists, JRoss of Urban Pheasant Glass. JRoss has been blowing glass for ten years and works full time as an artist. Hailing from the suburbs of Metro Detroit, JRoss was passionate about art from childhood and focused mainly on drawing, painting and sculpture in his younger years. After high school he attended community college and took a non-credit independent art study course at CCS, where he was first introduced to the idea of working glass as an art form.
After only a year, JRoss met Puff Danny: the man who showed him how to make his first pipe. Through Puff Danny he met Alex Vicknair and Drew Kups. These artists would end up having the biggest influence on his glass blowing career. JRoss describes how it was in the beginning, "there were a group of guys out in East Lansing: Alex V., Adam G., Nick Voorhees; I would go out there whenever I could. Everyone was super welcoming. I felt lucky. Alex would always say that you had to pull your weight, I think that's why it worked out so well. I always worked really hard and they saw me put the time in."
JRoss was fortunate enough to have some amazing mentors not just in East Lansing but in his own backyard. Today he is a mentor to artists with less experience and he works regularly on collaborations with experienced glass blowers, "it's definitely gotten easier over time. Someone like Alex can take anything and turn it into something of value and that is something I picked up from him. It comes down to a lot of communication." Yet working with others is second nature to a glass blower, so what makes JRoss stand out from the crowd?
He has a distinctly Michigan style: organic forms, bright eye-catching color combinations, flowing bits and spacey attachments. But the job is not all flashy colors and pleasing shapes, "70% of what I do is prep work, mostly building color patterns and stocking stuff because I do a lot of multiple layered color sections, and then 30% building. The most comfortable thing that I do is dry pipes but rigs and mini tubing are huge in the industry right now. I don't so much go for an artistic message. For the most part it's a piece, not necessarily a certain character or idea. There are forms I follow for some pieces and others it's more of a freestyle piece by piece. I'm all over the place."
JRoss has played a huge part in organizing the Michigan Glass Project from the beginning. The first couple of years he organized the artists coming in from around the country, "flights, getting them to and from the airport, making sure that we had the most beneficial artists," as well as collaborations, "I do my best to get things set up ahead of time. A lot of people have styles that are complimentary, others don't. There are also different skill levels." Last year he pushed himself to do more glass blowing and a little less of the other stuff. Either way, you're guaranteed to catch him working his tail off at the Project.
And we can't forget about Art Road Nonprofit, the charity we have selected to donate to this year. JRoss is pleased with the switch to a new charity, "I think it's a much better suite. Typically the people who are donating are going to be artists or people who have an appreciation for art. They're going to be compassionate about art being in all schools and all children having access to it." He also mentions that even some returning artists have commented on their excitement about the new charity. Whatever charity we donate to, we are all here doing what we do because we love our communities and we know that together we can create positive change, "everyone who does this has an amazing amount of respect for art and making art for a living, so this is huge. In this aspect I was extremely fortunate, I took any art classes I wanted and used any supplies I could imagine. This needs to be fixed and it's great that Art Road has started it. Any support that we can lend to them, that is amazing."
Thank you all for joining us for another artist feature. We appreciate your interest in our cause and we hope you're as excited as we are to see some of these artists up close and personal at this years Michigan Glass Project!
To see more of JRoss's work visit him on the web:
Facebook: Jeremy Ross / Jross Glassworks