I recently went out to California to meet and work with Mr. Voorhees. We collaborated in his studio and I had the opportunity to learn more about how he’s evolved his craft around his iconic face imagery. I'll share the story of how we met, and what it was like working in his glass studio in California. He shares some background on his glass blowing life as well.
They would hand him a molten ball of glass and say 'Deal with it'.
Let’s get some basics out of the way. Please introduce yourself.
Years on the torch?
How did you get into glass blowing??
Favorite cup maker?
What Torch Are You On?
Favorite Cup You Own?
Favorite cup you don’t own?
You said you mostly make cups for friends and family, and I hear this from a lot of glass blowers. I feel like a lot of hidden gems are in friends/family collections from the last two decades of pipe makers not knowing what else to give as gifts. That and not being able to afford actual gifts. Any gifts stand out that you’ve made?
What’s your favorite cup style to make?
Think we’ll see any cups with SALT?
Years ago I met most of the pipe makers I looked up to, either on the trade show circuit, or from my years on the road, working in any studio with a lathe that would have me.
Mr. Voorhees, an artist I’ve long followed, somehow eluded me for all these years…until a few weeks ago. He posted a fully murrine built cup on Instagram. I couldn’t help myself and asked if it was available.
Once we got to talking, I learned that Nick was aware of Drinking Vessels, and that some artists I admire suggested he sell me cups. (side note: Learning this made me feel very good about what I'm doing, it’s always great to find support from the community)
I prefer to do business with people who I've met in person. (side note: I hate digital technology and would rather engage someone face to face than over the internet). So I booked a flight to California.
Five words or less, you’ll get my best
Voorhees and I discussed an order over the phone. He sent me progress pics and then completed the order while I was hanging out in his studio in California. I don't like to tell artists what to do, so we just ran through a few ideas for products and a ballpark on the price points. I find this to be the most effective way to work with artists. As my kiln from our mutual friend SALT reads "Five words or less, you'll get my best".
Nick knocked it out of the park with this first drop. Much of his work was pre-sold before he finished.
I spent about three days in Voorhees’s glass studio in Santa Barbara, where he's lived for most of the last decade. This is his first solo shop in his career, and he’s been there for the last year or two. Taking a friendly, yet competitive rivalry going back to their skateboarding days, Adam G introduced Voorhees to glass in Lansing, Michigan, alongside glass blowers like Alex Vicknair, and others.
We spent most of our time next to his torch while he worked, but he made sure to take me to some some Santa Barbara food spots and bring me his favorite cold brew coffee each morning. I haven't been drinking much coffee over the last year. I also haven't smoked many blunts since college either, so hanging with Voorhees was a bit outside my normal routine, and it was great. I love being able to explore different lifestyles and immerse myself into a scene different from my own.
I brought some prep for him to assemble into collaborations, and he finished one before I left (above). That one was pre-sold, and we will donate a large portion of the sale to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, along with the rest of my orange themed collaborations. Special thanks to The Little Glass Gallery for picking up what might be my favorite collaboration I've ever been a part of.
While Voorhees has made cups and goblets in the past, most remain in the collection of his parents. I saw a handful around his studio that he told me were experiments. Lately, his exploration of glass has led him to millie component building, and he's looking forward to releasing some drinkware in that style in the future. He told me what a fun challenge these cups were, how much he learned from them, and how excited he is to make more.
He explored faces through doodles, in his younger years, and then in his time tagging trains and walls while exploring glass sculpting.
He told me about his love for glass, something we share in common. Adam G and Alex Vicknair would tease him until he'd turn on a torch. Then they would hand him a molten ball of glass and say "deal with it". It would flop over immediately, obviously, turning into trash. He persisted to figure it out. He told me about the first pipe he made, and how he still has it. He spoke about how grateful he is for the creative life he lives and the people who support his work.
There are a few more mugs and shot glasses remaining from the first Drinking Vessels x Mr. Voorhees drop. Now that I have photos, they're going live on the site. I'm very excited to continue working with Nick in the future, and being able to bring you some of the most unique cups I've ever seen.
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I blew glass almost every day this week. That felt good, mostly. I’m working on a lot of repetitive projects and prep, which can get old. I’ve been able to squeeze a few fun little experiments in between the monotonous work, and overall I’m having a good time on the torch.
I’ve been working on a playlist on spotify for you to tune into, and a correlating blog with my thoughts and anecdotes about the chosen songs and artists. Check that out here.
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