A Flare for art.
Steve Bay, of San Pedro, Calif., is an environmental toxicologist by day and a glass artist by night. From about 9 p.m. to midnight, Bay works in his garage, creating hummingbird feeders and dragonfly plant stakes from molten glass.
"This is my fun job, not my real job," Bay said.
Bay displayed his work at Cornerstone Glass in the Whiteaker neighborhood on the final day of Glass Stock West, a series of classes and workshops that began Wednesday night and ended with an art fair Sunday afternoon.
Bay has been fascinated by glassblowing since he was about 12, when he would watch a glassblower work in his booth near other souvenir stores in the Ports O'Call marketplace in San Pedro. Bay said he was fascinated as the man created sailboats, mermaids and fish before his eyes.
Bay, 60, began glassblowing 6 years ago, as he was "not getting any younger." He said that his career as a toxicologist comes in handy helping him understand the chemistry behind the art.
"Toxicology is about chemistry affecting biology, and glasswork is chemistry affecting the colors and the appearance," Bay said.
At the Glass Stock West art fair, Bay laid out his creations, including icicle ornaments, heart-shaped pendants and miniature sculptures.
This year was Bay's first attending Glass Stock West. The event was established in 2003 and has been held in Eugene for the past five years. Founded by glass artist Deb Crowley of Newport, the event draws attendants from all over the country.
Crowley, a fifth-generation glassblower, has been working with stained and fused glass for 35 years, and has been blowing glass for 25 years. Crowley said she started the event to "create an insurmountable amount of inspiration" for other glass artists by offering classes that introduce new skills to even the experienced attendants.
"When they go home, they have new things they're learning and a couple of new things in their toolbox that they can use to make their visions more exciting," Crowley said.
The constant need to create, Crowley said, is what these artists have in common.
"Food comes later, sleep comes later," Crowley said. "We live to create."
In addition to taking classes and contests, the artists also participate in an art fair at the end of the week, where they can show off and sell their creations.
Crowley also hosts another event, Glass Stock East, on the East Coast in Landing, N.J. in October.
Sue Bradley of Eugene creates fused glass art, using a kiln to bond pieces of cut glass rather than using a torch to shape molten glass. "I don't do much torch work," she said.
Bradley displayed her work during the fair, including Christmas ornaments and night lights of cat faces, with eyes that glow in the dark.
Fellow Eugene resident Nancy Gant worked at the Fred Meyer grocery chain for 30 years before becoming a full-time glass artist. Gant has been glass blowing since 1999, and began selling her work in 2000.
Gant said her favorite part about her work is watching the glass melt, "dripping like honey, and a few seconds later hard as a rock again."
"It's just an amazing thing," Gant said.
Crowley agreed, saying that glass "doesn't talk back, and it does what you want most of the time."
"It's about creating something beautiful, regardless of whether or not somebody else thinks so," Crowley said. "It's leaving the planet a more beautiful place, one art piece at a time."
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