Vail Glass Artist in Residency 2019: Glass by BoOTs!

Vail Glass Artist in Residency 2019: Glass by BoOTs!

May 02, 2019

Gina is one of my favorite people to blow glass with. Her attention to detail, and knowledge of fruits and vegetables exceed most people I’ve met, with the exception of a few farmers.

Thanks to Gina (checkout our featured artist blog about Glass by BoOTs! from a few years ago) for dedicating her winter season to blowing glass in the Vail Valley with me at Bat Country glass blowing studio. Working side-by-side and pushing each other to try new glass blowing techniques was a great experience and we created some fun collaboration cups together.

Artist in Residency: Gina Gaffner aka Glass By BoOTs!

IG: @glassbyboots

Winter 2019 | January, February

Gina Gaffner handmade glass blowing in vail coloradoFor the last two winters I’ve had the great opportunity to fill the artist in residence program at Bat Country - Drinking Vessels Glass Blowing Studio in Minturn, Colorado. Ben and I became friends instantly, when we met a few years ago in Austin, and have lifted each other up along the way. Watching his growth with his brand and art studio in the mountains has been really exciting! 


He’s built it into a top-notch glass blowing and art studio with great energy flowing from the walls

handmade glassblowing for great pumpkin commonwealth awardsOn the transition Bat Country Studios made over the last year — this is one to write about, and has been so wonderful to witness. In 2018, full of blank white walls (maybe 1 or two murals) and just enough equipment to get by, things have evolved quite a bit, as he’s built it into a top-notch glass blowing and art studio with great energy flowing from the walls, thanks to all the artists who have come through and left their mark. As I arrived in early 2019, a new cold working glass room was finished; filled with a sandblaster, Covington lapidary wheel and and MK wet saw. New beautiful artwork added to the art studio walls, and a couple full-time artist renting space, brought even more energy to the space. 

This year I worked on a large project for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (some of these pumpkins weight over 1,000 pounds!). I produced all of the trophies for the largest grown pumpkin fruit in the world!

handmade glass trophy great pumpkin commonwealth

One of the best experiences from the weekend was the Starship coin pull, that was epic! With Marcel Braun leading the way, and all of the amazing people who participated in the event, we pulled a pretty sweat coin together; artists and collectors from all over the world. After that, it was time to start prepping for the annual Vail Cup Collector’s Cup. I had fun developing some new cup designs with Ben for Drinking Vessels as well. 

When we weren't blowing glass, I also had the chance to get some skiing in. Vail had an epic season of snow so I was able to experience my first time skiing in deep powder!! So much fun!

Vail Cup Collector’s Club - Boots is Back Again!

For the second year in a row I was able to host my dear friend Gina Gaffner in my studio for a winter residency leading up to the Vail Cup Collector's Club. Our time was full of big pumpkins, glass blowing collaborations and we got some powder days skiing and snowboarding in Vail as well. Checkout the avocado cup, one of my favorite and most creative cups we made together.

handmade glass avocado cup boots x drinking vessels glass by boots x drinking vessels collaboration handmade glass cup avocadohandmade glass avocado cup boots x drinking vessels from top 


Tandem Bike Collab - Drinking Vessels x Glass by Boots

Back in May 2015 when I was traveling the country, I found myself in Austin, Texas. I had access to a studio with a lathe during the night shift.Gina was a friend from the trade show and event circuit, but we didn't know each other super well. She offered me her guest room, we carpooled daily to work (sometimes on a tandem-bike), collaborated on glass projects, and helped each other "get it together" during a time in life that was particularly challenging for both of us. 


Vail Glass Blowing  Studio - Artist in Residence

When I first built my studio in 2017, there were many artists I was eager to have out. Gina was top of the list, and I'm honored to have hosted her twice now. She works on a GTT mirage, which she was able to plug into my guest bench via quick connects and get up and melting easily.

Gina is one of my favorite people to blow glass with. Her color palette is unique from most glass artists I’ve encountered, relying heavily on cadmium based colors to create the exact hues of fruits and vegetables in every phase of growth. She used more color from Momka’s Glass than anyone I know and spends hours experimenting with layering colors to get exactly what she’s looking for. She’s often talked to me about creating a “cook book” with “recipes” for her product lines, primarily just so she can remember each nuance uncovered along her journey.

Her attention to detail, and knowledge of fruits & vegetables exceeds most people I've met, with the exception of a few farmers. I love every piece we've made together, and they keep getting better as our skills improve and we find more time to spend on projects together. 

Fruits & Veggies, and Handmade Glass Trophies for Massive Pumpkins

For most of her time visiting, Gina was producing trophies for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. She sculpted around a dozen very large borosilicate sculptures of gourds, pumpkins, and tomatoes which she mounted on handmade wooden bases to be presented to the winners of the gourd growing competition.

I’m especially reminded of her ability to experiment by her first failed attempt at a long gourd for the trophies she made while in my studio. I felt her frustrations with this project as she attempted such an ambitious project. The wooden bases, made in Michigan, arrived days before her ship date, and needed reworking. Fortunately my neighbor was able to make everything right in the carpenters shop in my building.

gina gaffner handmade glass trophy for the great pumpkin commonwealth

It was incredible to watch her tackle such ambitious projects, and inspired me to push myself in her presence. In between her trophies we were able to create some challenging collaborations together, developing some new products we can offer together customizable by fruit or veggie.


Want to Know What Else We Did in Vail?

Whether here in Vail on vacation, or full time, when we aren’t blowing glass, we like to get out skiing and snowboarding.

A lot of us glass blowers work seven days a week, and Gina might work 8 days a week.

My friends had an extra pass for Vail, and another friend loaned Gina ski gear, so we got Gina skiing at Vail twice this year!

The first day was an epic powder day, so after making sure she was ok on the first run, I ditched her to go hit a foot of fresh powder in the back bowls. I felt like an asshole but she had a great warmup day and definitely wouldn't have enjoyed skiing where we went.

A lot of us glass blowers work seven days a week, and Gina might work 8 days a week. It was nice to be able to get her to take a break from the grind in the studio and get on the mountain with me. She told me she wouldn't have done it on her own and I'm happy to have made it a reality for her. She traded my friends some pretty awesome custom pieces for their support, so everyone got something sweet from being out in the mountains. 

Borosilicate Glass Blowing Classes

On top of creating over a dozen trophies, collaborating on some handmade glass cups for Drinking Vessels and squeezing in a few days skiing, Gina made time to help out some artists around the studio.

Gina gave private lessons to a few renters, most of whom are beginners. She spent hours helping them with fundamental skills that will form the foundation of their glass careers, and we're already seeing the impact, which is a testament to Gina's skills. I'm so grateful that she spent this time helping the guys, who are much better glass workers, after receiving her instruction. I can't act like she didn't help me with my own glass blowing, but I kind of taught her how to use a lathe so we're even. 

We’re always open to guests at our studio! Contact us to learn more about glass blowing classes, art studio space for rent or to checkout our handmade borosilicate cup collection.

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