Ben's Lens: An Interview with Blake Wingard

Ben's Lens: An Interview with Blake Wingard

October 16, 2019 4 Comments

How We Met

Young Blake and I met at the bowling alley when Arik Krunk invited me to join him and some of the Evergreen guys at the lanes. I don’t really like bowling, though I did receive college credit for my bowling class at the Indiana Memorial Union in college. I remember having bowling and billiards back to back as my “morning” classes at around 11 a.m. and noon twice a week, but that’s not what this post is about.

I was familiar with Blake’s incredible flower study through my friend Ryan Coon who had shown Blake a few things early on. Blake had moved from Colorado Springs to Evergreen recently, which is much closer to Minturn than where he was. We quickly made plans for Blake to visit my studio to throw down, which ended up being the same time Dan Hoffman was passing through. I got some awesome collaborations in with both Dan and Blake and we had a great time together.That week in the shop was awesome for so many reasons and showed me a glimpse into what my studio could accommodate.

VCCC '19

I hung out with Blake a few times after that session and quickly invited him to be involved with last year’s Vail Cup Collectors Club and I’m so glad I did.


Blake got to Minturn early to help with anything he could during the madness that our annual show creates. In between all his behind the scenes help, Blake managed to make fourteen sunflowers which Robert Mickelsen crafted into a Cesaré inspired Venetian goblet. If that wasn’t enough, Blake then spent five or six hours assisting Marcel with the Millie pull, one of the hottest and most intense processes I’ve ever been a part of. By the end of it Blake was glowing red from the heat he was exposed to up close as he helped heat the mass with a Delta hand torch on top of the crossfire Marcel created with two other GTT torches.

BB: Tell us about how you got into glass blowing. How long has it been?
BW: I have been blowing glass now for about three and a half years, or a little over it. I started in January of 2016. I have always had an interest in art but started my interest in glass when I was 17 in Mobile, AL. The first piece of glass art that I ever bought was by Chris McCelroy or 2 Stroke Glass, in October of 2013. I still have it today. After moving to Colorado in January of 2014, my interests grew and I kept buying pieces. I ended up starting up a gallery in Colorado Springs with the help of some friends. We held parties so there was a studio in there as well. I watched them work and friends who I knew from owning the gallery. People like Ryan Coon, Blitzkriega, th3ydidit, pop d and so many more. I have been so fortunate to learn from incredible artists throughout my career. Once I closed down the Gallery I started blowing glass for fun since I had the equipment but after a couple months I found that it could become more than a hobby. Three and a half years later, I am still doing what I love. 

What about your gallery? Were you blowing glass before or after that?
I was not blowing glass before the gallery but I had been fascinated by the art but was too scared to do it until I had a lot of time on my hands and the equipment of my own to do it. The gallery was called Heady Mountain Glass Gallery and I learned so much from the experience while meeting so many wonderful people in the process. 

Tacos or Pizza?
Tacos all day. I could eat them every day of the week. I also can’t/don’t eat cheese so pizza has lost it’s luster. 

What kind of torch do you run? What are your favorite tools?
I use a Bethlehem Bravo. I've had it since day one and I will most likely have that torch until the end. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to add some other torches to the arsenal but I can do everything I want to with the Bravo. I could make a flower pendant all the way through with just one small 1" by 2" graphite paddle and a pair of tweezers, but I do utilize about 1.25ft of 4mm rod during each flower. I have other tools but if I am just going to a buddy’s house to grind for a day, that is usually what I will bring. 

You’re obviously a Sunflower King. Tell us about your exploration of flowers from how it started to how you feel about them years later. Do you have a favorite flower?
So the flowers were not the plan from the beginning. I had started doing mountain scene disc flips in my first few months, but I wanted more detail so I asked Ryan Coon how to do dots because he is incredible at dots and always has been. He told me that I needed to learn how to do a flower before I could start doing dots. So that is what I did, and I did that for a couple months while trying to create some random designs and such. The sunflower came about because I was dating this girl who loved sunflowers and her birthday was coming up and ya boy was very broke, so I had to think creatively and that started the wave. I took the knowledge that I knew and tried something newer, and here we are today. I honestly do not have a favorite flower, they all are fun if I don’t have to make matching sets hahaha. But I do love doing the dots, so any flower with dots in it is super fun and meditative. 

Sunflower Shot Glass Set by Blake Wingard
Who is your favorite cup maker?
I can never pick a favorite for anything. Different cups are better some days and other cups are better for others. I feel the same way about all art. I was about to name all my favorite cup artists but there are too many so I will just say that I loved working with Stephen Pierce and Robert Mickelson on some super special cups, or tazzas and chalice style thing. Those were special moments and the pieces always make me smile when I see them. 

Sunflower Tazza Pair by Blake Wingard x Stephan Peirce
Do you have a favorite cup? A favorite type of cup to use?
I have a cup that Justin Krunk made for me when I was Oregon staying with them. He wrote “Sunshine” in reticule morse code on it. He might have been making a joke at the movie Remember the Titans and the character Sunshine from it, but I don’t care, it is a gorgeous cup and I use that cup whenever I drink juice, and I love juice hahah. 

O'neil Glass x Blake Wingard Fire & Ice Sunflower Trio
O'neil Glass x Blake Wingard Fire & Ice Sunflower Trio

While we’re at it, what’s your favorite drink?
Water all the time, but if I am indulging then juice of any kind except grapefruit. Grapefruit juice is just sad pink lemonade. If I am drinking alcohol then Forteleza Blanco, a wonderful blanco tequila. 

What’s on your wishlist from Drinking Vessels?
I can’t keep up with what is available anymore and what isn’t, but my favorite piece to come through your shop was the Salt x Stephen Pierce taza with the offset ovolio in the top connection. I think it is sold at this point but that is a piece that I just saw a picture of but will never forget. 

What can you tell people about Bat Country Studios as someone who has visited on more than a few occasions?
Oooh I love Bat Country Studios. I have stayed there winter, summer and fall and loved them all. We have created some wonderful pieces, learned a lot of shit together and I’ve even explored the depths of my mind in that studio thanks to Trixie Garcia and you for bringing me to that show. But seriously, its a gorgeous studio and I love your vision. Also I love area of MInturn/Vail/Avon, so it always fun to explore when I am there. 

Did you get an epic pass this year?
I slacked and will have to be purchasing an epic pass while it is more expensive but I will be doing so. I love Beaver Creek and am starting to love Vail more too.

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I’ve also gotten to hang out with Blake on our snowboards at Vail. Even though he hates the cat walks to the back bowls, and his board definitely needs a wax next time we ride, I’m looking forward to getting some days in the season with him. It’s nice for me to get to connect with other artists outside the studio. Sometimes I’ll realize I’ve gone days without having a conversation about anything besides for glass. It’s crucial for me to expose myself to the outside world every now and again so I can keep everything in perspective.

Anything else we should know?
Ummmm I guess I should maybe let everyone know that I have not been nearly as productive because I got back in to college. I am getting a Spanish degree because I want to start a non-profit where we create studios in less fortunate countries, and also our own country. The studios would be decked out with tools and glass while also giving them oxygen generators and leaving a resident artist there for a little bit to teach and manage. But the goal would be to let them run and profit from it, while also showing a new art form to the communities. 

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I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Blake over the last year or two. He’s a young kid with tons of ambition. His attention to details in his flowers is admirable and his commitment to the study has allowed him to really evolve the work over time. I’ve noticed he’s been tackling cups since getting to know me and I’m stoked to have some of his first ones available on the site alongside some of his finest collaborations.

So Blake is one of the guys coming up. I’m often asked by collectors who they should be looking out for and Blake is for sure one of them. I’m excited to see what he comes up with for the drinkware department, integrating his detailed work into larger shapes.

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4 Responses

Cay Rogers
Cay Rogers

November 02, 2019

Blake is an exceptionally talented artist with a huge heart!

Ann Faulkner
Ann Faulkner

October 19, 2019

Blake does fine work. I enjoy wearing his flower pendants and bracelets.

Deb Wingard Ramsey
Deb Wingard Ramsey

October 18, 2019

Very proud of my nephew. He has his mother’s energetic and enthusiastic spirit and his grandmother Wingard’s creative sense. I have no doubt Blake will do well with his career.

Ellen Faulkner
Ellen Faulkner

October 17, 2019

Blake is a fantastic artist. Thank you for sharing this article!

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