[BB] You must have been one of the first glass artists I was aware of, growing up in the suburbs of Chicago just a few hours from Madison Wisconsin where you’re based. I used to sneak into “Secrets” in Chicago back in High School or check out pieces my friends had gotten from there. What year did you start blowing glass?
[Freeek] I first got to melt glass on a torch in Eureka CA in 1997 at a friends house. I tried to make a marble and caught the glass bug. In 1998 I was in Arkansas where I got to see a wrap and rake spoon be made by a guy going by Smiley and got to try to make one too. I was definitely hooked. I moved to Madison WI in late 1998 and in January 1999 I bought all my own equipment and decided I was going to become a glass blower.
How did you get into glass before you found your way to the torch?
I had worked in a head shop while I was in college so I was already selling glass pipes. It was nothing crazy back then, mostly silver fume and very limited colors. I also had been smoking weed for years already and was big into Phish. There were always people selling and buying glass in the lot and at shakedown. The next logical step was to try to make pipes myself.
When did you come up with your moniker? There has to be a story behind that…
Well the story behind the name goes back to high school. I grew up in Connecticut and the school I went to wasn’t that big. I was one of the few long-haired weed smoking kids in the school and I got called a freak quite often. So I just ran with it. Living not that far from NYC I grew up seeing all kinds of graffiti and tags all the time and Freeek was actually my tag through high school and college. So the name really goes back to 1992 when I first started tagging in New England and in New York.
Incredible! The scene has evolved so much I bet you’re not working on the same torch as when you started! What was your first torch and what is your current daily driver?
My first torch was a National hand torch with a pilot tip. I think it cost like $80 at the time. Nowadays it really depends what I’m working on but mostly a GTT Kobuki or a 40mm Herbie.
Casual upgrade haha! I am sure there were a few other torches between those as well. Tell us about a day in the life. Do you melt glass most days?
I’ve always tried to keep a pretty regular schedule. I’m pretty much a 9-5 guy from Monday to Friday unless I have other artists in town. When I do we will work as much as possible around the clock. When I’m not on the torch I’m spending time with my wife and two teenagers.
When did you start doing the drawings and disc flips? Did you draw or paint before getting into glass?
I think it was around 2003 or 2004 that I started with that tech. It was really rough at that point but the ideas were there. I did like to draw and paint before I was into glass. I actually did two years in college for graphic design so I do have somewhat of an art background.
Any other artistic mediums you like to create in?
I’ve always liked making things with my hands. I’ve done quite a bit of beadwork and sewing in the past, as well as drawing and block printing. I actually made a series of glass block prints back in 2012.
Whoa! What kind of art do you collect?
Obviously glass but I’m big into collecting posters and art prints and canvases. I have a flat file full of stuff and my house has lots of unique things hanging everywhere.
Which artists would you say have inspired you and your work?
That’s really hard to say. I like so many artists for so many different reasons and I feel like every piece of art I see that I like speaks to me in its own way. One thing I think that has inspired me the most is music. Music has really touched me in so many ways and is a big part of my life.
Do you play any instruments?
I like to mess around on guitar.
Same here, but I don’t find the time much any more. What are you listening to lately?
I am mainly digging new Trey Anastasio and the new Phish album, Atmosphere, Immortal Technique, and Aesop Rock.
I have been listening to Aesop Rock quite a bit lately myself. Do you have a favorite cup maker?
I’d have to say Emilio Santini. His cups were the ones that made me want to make cups.
Legend! What about a favorite cup on the site?
I really like the Voorhees @mr.voorhees orange head cup.
Absolute gem! Surely you’ve made your share of cups over the years. Are there any that stand to you out of those?
It would have to be a cup I made with Eric Ross @eross4point0 with a sculpted GTT torch inside it. I don’t have a picture of it but Eric probably does.
Incredible cup! What’s your go to drink?
Do you use a cup you made in the studio?
Sometimes I drink from a cup I made at the studio, but not always.
How’s your cup collection?
I have some cups. Some are soft glass and some Borosilicate and some are ceramic. All of the ceramic cups are made by my kids. I have a cup from Coyle @coylecondenser and few from E Ross plus a few more from other artists. Most of the cups at my house are ones that I made. I started making cups as a way to use up all my leftover glass around 10 years ago and back then I couldn’t sell a cup to save my life so I just kept them all. Now things have changed a lot and there is a thriving market for hand made one of a kind cups and glasses!
Admittedly I don’t have one of your cups in my personal collection yet, but I am waiting on the right one to come my way. I do however have one of your sherlocks with the rows of horns and a flip on the side. What kind of pipes do you find yourself using most?
My daily driver at hom]e is a 4.0 traveler from Eric Ross with an Errlectric Enail but at the studio it’s usually a small Swanny @swannyglass rig or a prototype rig or just one that isn’t sellable for whatever reason. If I’m smoking flowers I really like a Sherlock. I have quite a few of those in my collection.
Sherlocks for the win! Now for the important questions! Ranch or Blue Cheese?
Definitely Blue Cheese for me!
Tacos or Pizza?
You would! Got a favorite borosilicate color?
No not really I like a lot of differ colors.
What about a favorite tool?
Maybe the best answer so far! Do you have a favorite cup shape?
Don’t really have one.
Any hobbies besides glass?
I like spending time outdoors with my family. We do a lot of hiking together. We also have a pretty big garden that keeps us busy. I like to snowboard in the winter as well.
We definitely need to get you out to Vail this winter to shred the hill and get down in the studio! What are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on some orders for shops. But also starting a larger project that might take a few months. I’m always trying to come up with new designs and shapes.
Any collaborations on deck?
Yes but I can’t talk about them yet.
Of course you can’t and I can’t wait to see! What else should we know about you?
I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to everybody that has supported me over the years by purchasing my work. I wouldn’t be able to do this without all of you. Thank you!
Thanks for making the time to get me this batch of cups as well as for this interview. Three out of the six fresh cups sold the day I got the boxes in so I had to hold the other three for the website which are live now and you can see here: Freeek Glass
I am looking forward to bringing in more of Freeek’s work when he has time to make more. If you haven’t seen his fumed brain marbles or disc flips hopefully you will get to in the next batch!
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