Meet The Arists


Dave Porter   (Biography coming soon!)

Dave Porter

(Biography coming soon!)

Rhonda Baker   " In 2007 I came to the studio, I had no intentions of becoming a glass blower. I had had asthma from the age of 4, never have I ever thought I'd go into a profession that require any kind of lung capacity. I was never really drawn to fire. If you had ever worked with me in the past, you'd know I hate the heat. My first day was hot, it was October and in the 80's but when you blow glass you are so caught up you really don't realize how hot you are. I started as Dave's assistant, soon after I went on to help people make their own paperweights. Then Dave went on vacation for four weeks. It was quiet and I thought "maybe I can make something" and so it began. Now, 10 years later I am the lead gaffer with a team of talented artist, where I am only limited by my imagination. "

Rhonda Baker

"In 2007 I came to the studio, I had no intentions of becoming a glass blower. I had had asthma from the age of 4, never have I ever thought I'd go into a profession that require any kind of lung capacity. I was never really drawn to fire. If you had ever worked with me in the past, you'd know I hate the heat. My first day was hot, it was October and in the 80's but when you blow glass you are so caught up you really don't realize how hot you are. I started as Dave's assistant, soon after I went on to help people make their own paperweights. Then Dave went on vacation for four weeks. It was quiet and I thought "maybe I can make something" and so it began. Now, 10 years later I am the lead gaffer with a team of talented artist, where I am only limited by my imagination."

Ron Baker   (Biography Coming Soon!)

Ron Baker

(Biography Coming Soon!)

 
Tekla Balmer   " At 23, as a transplant to Williamston, I lived in an apartment a block from my job as a bartender. The studio was in the middle of the block. I would slow down to check out the window displays. I couldn't wrap my mind around how they put patterns in glass!? Looking back, I probably looked like a kid at the candy store, oogling and drooling over the sparkly glass. I was intriuged by the colors, the heat eminating from the doorway, the smell of smokey wood drifting down the street. I had to learn more about this...glassblowing. After a nudge in the right direction, I gathered up the courage to talk to Dave about an apprenticeship. He took me on the studio floor, and said, "Stand here. "  He slid open the furnace door and asked me if it scared me. I assumed he had just exposed a direct portal to hell, to which I responded, "No, but that's hot!" That's where my journey began. I watched the first day, asked questions. I was entranced by the glowing blobs being transformed into vases and ornaments. I went home and relentlessly watched every video I could Find on glassblowing. We face many challenges as glass blowers, the the most obvious is the heat . Not only is everything hot because you know "Fire! ", there is also a mental aspect. Our brain says "Danger! Get away!" but once your body realizes your brain is wrong, beautiful things happen. We also are challenged daily with timing, processes, muscle memory, failing, then failing again. Then one day, it all clicks and BAM! My idea has come to life! *Insert Frankenstein Lighting here* ALways keeping Rhonda's words of wisdom close by, saying "Don't worry about it." or my favorite, "One more time." These usually give me the encouragement to come out with a piece "Someone will love" Inspiration comes from all around us, sometimes it's the vibrancy of nature and the world we live in. Other times, I choose colors based on a feeling, or a state of mind. I want to be transposed through my piece. I believe art speaks to our soul as well as our eyes, no two souls see the exact same beauty. Most of all, I am inspired by women being rare to nill in the hot shops throughout glass history. The times have changed and we are able to show off our talents. I am proud to learn the techniques and secrets, share ideas, and maybe one day be a household name as a female artist. "

Tekla Balmer

"At 23, as a transplant to Williamston, I lived in an apartment a block from my job as a bartender. The studio was in the middle of the block. I would slow down to check out the window displays. I couldn't wrap my mind around how they put patterns in glass!? Looking back, I probably looked like a kid at the candy store, oogling and drooling over the sparkly glass. I was intriuged by the colors, the heat eminating from the doorway, the smell of smokey wood drifting down the street. I had to learn more about this...glassblowing. After a nudge in the right direction, I gathered up the courage to talk to Dave about an apprenticeship. He took me on the studio floor, and said, "Stand here." He slid open the furnace door and asked me if it scared me. I assumed he had just exposed a direct portal to hell, to which I responded, "No, but that's hot!" That's where my journey began. I watched the first day, asked questions. I was entranced by the glowing blobs being transformed into vases and ornaments. I went home and relentlessly watched every video I could Find on glassblowing. We face many challenges as glass blowers, the the most obvious is the heat . Not only is everything hot because you know "Fire! ", there is also a mental aspect. Our brain says "Danger! Get away!" but once your body realizes your brain is wrong, beautiful things happen. We also are challenged daily with timing, processes, muscle memory, failing, then failing again. Then one day, it all clicks and BAM! My idea has come to life! *Insert Frankenstein Lighting here* ALways keeping Rhonda's words of wisdom close by, saying "Don't worry about it." or my favorite, "One more time." These usually give me the encouragement to come out with a piece "Someone will love" Inspiration comes from all around us, sometimes it's the vibrancy of nature and the world we live in. Other times, I choose colors based on a feeling, or a state of mind. I want to be transposed through my piece. I believe art speaks to our soul as well as our eyes, no two souls see the exact same beauty. Most of all, I am inspired by women being rare to nill in the hot shops throughout glass history. The times have changed and we are able to show off our talents. I am proud to learn the techniques and secrets, share ideas, and maybe one day be a household name as a female artist. "

Doug Waggott    "Allow me a short paragraph on my past. I may be the oldest glass blowing apprentice in the whole state of Michigan. I retired from M.S.U in 2008 working in the College of Human Medicine with instructional technology & student computing. I am a widower, my wife passed away in July of 2009 from metastatic breast cancer. For many years I volunteered extensively at the hospice facility where my wife died. I have also volunteered with the Eaton County Humane Society. My friend, Juaise Peabody discovered that Fireworks Glass Studios offered classes for making paperweights. We went over to inquire about these classes and ended up watching Dave, Rhonda and Tekla work for a couple hours. I could barely pull my self away! We soon took a class and made a couple paperweights, I was fascinated and wanted more. With Juaise's encouragement, in lieu of Christmas shopping for family and friends I decided to make paperweights for everyone with thier favorite colors. Dave allowed me to come in a couple of afternoons every week when he, Rhonda & Tekla would assist me in making paperweights. I made upwards of 40 before the end of the year. I had become "glassy-eyed"- I couldn't get enough of the glass. With Dave's permission, I hung around the studio during the week learning about the tools & how to assist the gaffer, while he was on vacation in Mexico. Rhonda and Tekla were wonderful in helping me learn. After Dave's return from Mexico, he agreed to take me on as a student/ apprentice. I was ecstatic! I consider glass blowing both an art and a craft. At this point in my development, I am trying to concentrate on learning the craft. I firmly believe that one has to learn the craft before they can create a piece of art with molten glass. I have been challenged at every turn in this journey; starting a jack line, controlling heat in the piece, determining when to blow, how hard to blow, when to stop blowing, putting a loop on an ornament. I pay my dues to the glass gods, sometimes daily. All along, Dave, Rhonda, Tekla, Ron, Pam & Juaise have encouraged me. They have been very patient with me & have been generous with allowing me bench time. I have come to appreciate the extreme complexity of working with molten glass, the absolute beauty of the art in pieces, and the artists's mind executed in the glass. I know I will "only scratch the surface" learning and experiencing the artistry of molten glass with what time I have on this marble of a planet we inhabit. My intent is to become a valuable team member, to master the craft well enough to have my pieces considered art & become sell-able in the studio. "

Doug Waggott

"Allow me a short paragraph on my past. I may be the oldest glass blowing apprentice in the whole state of Michigan. I retired from M.S.U in 2008 working in the College of Human Medicine with instructional technology & student computing. I am a widower, my wife passed away in July of 2009 from metastatic breast cancer. For many years I volunteered extensively at the hospice facility where my wife died. I have also volunteered with the Eaton County Humane Society. My friend, Juaise Peabody discovered that Fireworks Glass Studios offered classes for making paperweights. We went over to inquire about these classes and ended up watching Dave, Rhonda and Tekla work for a couple hours. I could barely pull my self away! We soon took a class and made a couple paperweights, I was fascinated and wanted more. With Juaise's encouragement, in lieu of Christmas shopping for family and friends I decided to make paperweights for everyone with thier favorite colors. Dave allowed me to come in a couple of afternoons every week when he, Rhonda & Tekla would assist me in making paperweights. I made upwards of 40 before the end of the year. I had become "glassy-eyed"- I couldn't get enough of the glass. With Dave's permission, I hung around the studio during the week learning about the tools & how to assist the gaffer, while he was on vacation in Mexico. Rhonda and Tekla were wonderful in helping me learn. After Dave's return from Mexico, he agreed to take me on as a student/ apprentice. I was ecstatic! I consider glass blowing both an art and a craft. At this point in my development, I am trying to concentrate on learning the craft. I firmly believe that one has to learn the craft before they can create a piece of art with molten glass. I have been challenged at every turn in this journey; starting a jack line, controlling heat in the piece, determining when to blow, how hard to blow, when to stop blowing, putting a loop on an ornament. I pay my dues to the glass gods, sometimes daily. All along, Dave, Rhonda, Tekla, Ron, Pam & Juaise have encouraged me. They have been very patient with me & have been generous with allowing me bench time. I have come to appreciate the extreme complexity of working with molten glass, the absolute beauty of the art in pieces, and the artists's mind executed in the glass. I know I will "only scratch the surface" learning and experiencing the artistry of molten glass with what time I have on this marble of a planet we inhabit. My intent is to become a valuable team member, to master the craft well enough to have my pieces considered art & become sell-able in the studio. "

Judy Nichols    "As the new girl to Fireworks Glass Studios, I walked into quite a lovely mess. There's murrini over there, tools over here, frit all over the marver surrounded by more jars of frit... Although, this mess became an organized mess after getting to know the routine of things. When I see that mess come into play, I see an artist prepping for a piece, by pouring the frit out onto the marver, setting all of the tools in the right place so their hand can reach it when it's time, then wrapping their air hose in the correct direction on the bench. You then see it all come together when they are making the piece, they see their next step, but they don't take it quite yet, for it's not time. Don't get off rhythm, they say, for it will derange the next move... It's a type of dance, you see? A dance that is merely a muscle memory to the artist at play. As a witness, let me tell you, each and every one of these artists has a unique dance of their very own. However, there is a common ground that is brought here by everyone: encouragement, guidance, and love. After that, at the end of the day everyone is happy with themselves for achieving even the smallest thing. Now as the photographer, social media manager, greeter, maid, and part-time aspiring glassblower, I haven't danced at the bench very often. Although, when I have-well, let's just say, I am not the dancer I think I am. Nevertheless, I love to learn and be apart of this atmosphere constantly. You may have experienced it already, it's not just the heat, it's the atmosphere. An atmosphere that's inviting, friendly, relaxed and sometimes absolutely entrancing to be in. because everyone has the same trait: peace of mind. We relax here with the confidence of creativity, we help each other in inspiration and encouragement- that is something not even the best photographer can capture. "

Judy Nichols

"As the new girl to Fireworks Glass Studios, I walked into quite a lovely mess. There's murrini over there, tools over here, frit all over the marver surrounded by more jars of frit... Although, this mess became an organized mess after getting to know the routine of things. When I see that mess come into play, I see an artist prepping for a piece, by pouring the frit out onto the marver, setting all of the tools in the right place so their hand can reach it when it's time, then wrapping their air hose in the correct direction on the bench. You then see it all come together when they are making the piece, they see their next step, but they don't take it quite yet, for it's not time. Don't get off rhythm, they say, for it will derange the next move... It's a type of dance, you see? A dance that is merely a muscle memory to the artist at play. As a witness, let me tell you, each and every one of these artists has a unique dance of their very own. However, there is a common ground that is brought here by everyone: encouragement, guidance, and love. After that, at the end of the day everyone is happy with themselves for achieving even the smallest thing. Now as the photographer, social media manager, greeter, maid, and part-time aspiring glassblower, I haven't danced at the bench very often. Although, when I have-well, let's just say, I am not the dancer I think I am. Nevertheless, I love to learn and be apart of this atmosphere constantly. You may have experienced it already, it's not just the heat, it's the atmosphere. An atmosphere that's inviting, friendly, relaxed and sometimes absolutely entrancing to be in. because everyone has the same trait: peace of mind. We relax here with the confidence of creativity, we help each other in inspiration and encouragement- that is something not even the best photographer can capture. "