Joel Seigle is a designer and woodworker who runs a large shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I invited him to spend a month in my studio with two goals in mind, help Joel explore glass in my facility and upgrade the usage of shop space. Joel is a childhood friend who enthusiastically accepted my invitation...mainly for the perks of being located minutes from Vail and Beaver Creek for snowboarding. As a graduate from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Joel is a genius designer and maker, who has little experience with glass. I've spent time in Joel's studio during my visits to New York, and it was a true pleasure to have him in my space this January. Joel is my wood guy, and I hope I'm still his glass guy after his month long residency in my studio. - Ben Belgrad
Joel Seigle; Jack of all trades, master of none
Ben: Prior experience with glass and as a maker:
Joel: I first toyed with glass sophomore year of high school, coincidentally, the other student exploring glass with me was Jeff Heath (@jeffheathbar). I used a map gas torch, two chunks of fiberglass insulation and some random rods of color. Didn’t get much further than a bead but all was lost in my impatient cooling process.
From there I studied Industrial Design in college where I was trained in a variety of manufacturing and creative processes. Jack of all trades, master of none.
B: Please describe your shop and business, Harold
J: Currently I reside in Red Hook Brooklyn where I operate a design studio and run a nonprofit coworking shop with woodworking and metal fabrication capabilities. My studio, Harold, offers a product line ranging from high-end furnishings to affordable homewares and everyday items. Our shop houses 15 independent creative types creating all sorts of objects and furniture .
Some products from Harold Design House
Please describe what it was like tackling glass in my studio for a month
Having previously worked in nearly every medium; wood, metal, ceramics, paper, digital, non-ferrous metal, textile, leather, plastic, rubber, cement. I was fairly confident I could jump right in. Little did I know glass is the least forgiving medium I’ve come across. The limitations on glass are no joke and the capability between different colors and thickness is just a nightmare for a beginner. The more I worked it the more I wanted to work. From the two foot flame, pumped thousands of degrees inches from your face, to the physical change of glass as it becomes malleable, the whole process is addictive and enticing.
Which is your proudest piece from your residency?
I was so psyched to make my first drinkable cup. I managed to condense and blow out some color tubing into a goblet and then miraculously attach a different color tubing for a foot. You assisted with the foot flare and walked me through the final steps. The whole piece is super wonky but has tremendous charm and somehow managed to nail the proportions.
What was the most fun thing to do with glass?
Watch it melt.
What was the most difficult?
I really struggled with the pressure pop. I could not for the life of me get it without a bleb.
Anything else you want to share about your experience.
My residency out west was an amazing break from my life in NYC. Fresh mountain air, a solid introduction to a new medium, shredding pow at vail, and don’t forget the Affogato.
In addition to melting glass and snowboarding, Joel helped update my gas lines, build shelving, fabricate metal hooks for my torches, and implement some simple hacks to make my space more efficient.
Working with Joel almost daily for a month helped me to develop new skills as an educator. As more people come to my space wanting to learn how to blow glass, I've committed more of my energy towards becoming a better teacher; this experience was quite helpful with that. I'm looking forward to bringing artists of all different mediums out to participate in my residency program in the future. If you are interested in learning more please contact me here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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