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Not The Same Old Shit: Interview with Glass Blower Javier Vazquez

| Tom Parry

INTRODUCTION

If you’re familiar with the worlds of glass, smoking, or artistry, then you must have an appreciation for custom glass work, as it is the intersection of all of these mediums. Talented craftsmen proliferate the world of custom glass work, some who have been involved in it for their whole lives. One such individual is Javier Vasquez, an exceptionally skilled glass-blower with an equally exceptional body of work. I recently got the chance to interview Javier Vazquez and asked him how he got into glass-work, what kind of work(art) he produces, and what exciting new innovations he holds in store for the custom glass piece industry.

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Who are you?

“I’m Javier Vasquez, my family and I come from Spain and are all glass blowers and cutters. We came to the States right before Disney opened up, and were one of the first families to have shops in Disney. The whole family worked in the park. I started at 14, but I looked a little older, which helped me start work sooner. My dad was the manager for the glass work, and he worked for 27 years, three of those at Queen Mary, and two at Universal – all of it glass.”

Javier and his family have a long lineage of glasswork, an arduous and skilled profession that takes time and patience to perfect. For a long time, Javier worked with his family – producing hefty amounts of glasswork found throughout Disney and beyond. It wasn’t until later that Javier found another avenue of glass work he could direct his passion towards.

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When did you first get started in this industry?

“It was 2010 when I first went out on my own to start making functional art. I stopped by a local smoke shop near my house, and well – was put up to a challenge by the owner to put a dragon on one of his pipe pieces. After making it, a light turned on and I discovered another revenue stream I could excel in.”

(Known as 3-D glasswork, the glass is transformed into){3-D glasswork it’s called, forming the glass into} unique shapes of expression and style. This kind of glass work for smoking pieces was not as common at the time, as most custom work was done in the coloration of the glass.

Javier explains how he found his groove in crafting functional smoking pieces:

“It was nice to get into. I added what I already knew about tubing, and worked at attaching art work to the tubes. The main challenge was tweaking the oven temperature. I usually used it at 1000 degrees and had to work my way up to 1100, it took a while to figure out the perfect temp. From there I started to innovate in 3-D art.”

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What new innovations have you been cooking up?

I’m always looking for something different to do. I decided to start adding magnets and LEDs into the pieces. When people see it they don’t expect it, it builds value for the piece, no one else at the glass shows really does that. Also for the past few months, I’ve been making glass-blown guns that serve as functional pieces. Stuff like AK-47s, shotguns, revolvers, and even a Desert Eagle, and I’m open to any requests if people have them.”

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How do you see the future of this industry going, and do you have any advice for those trying to break into it?

“I see a good future ahead. It really depends on the economy, as sometimes it’s harder for people to spend money on more elaborate pieces when money is tight. Still, there is definitely a market for high-end glass, we just have to try and be affordable. For those getting into it, it really takes a lot of patience. You have to be able to do stuff repeatedly to get it right. You have to learn by doing something over and over again and be able to fail and bounce back from that. Eventually, it becomes second nature, and you get to create new stuff all the time, and the passion for it never goes away.”

Reassuring words from a seasoned pro to all the potential newcomers out there. Glasswork can indeed be hard work, but as Javier says – it’s equally if not more rewarding.

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Lastly – any fun facts about your work habits? Any exciting new stuff you’re working on?

“When I’m working I either have the stereo blaring or I’m watching movies and shows. The last show I watched was Suits and Blacklist, it’s nice to have something in the background when putting in the hours. Another thing I now do with my pieces is put Lego figures inside the rigs, like R2-D2 or Darth Vader. I’m all about continuously trying out new things and innovating, its actually my brand motto: ‘not the same old shit.’ “

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Conclusion

There you have it, the story of Javier Vazquez who came from a family of glassworkers, who strives to innovate and provide the best quality work in the field of custom glass pieces. With his long resume of glasswork experience, he as well as anybody knows that new blood in this industry can provide even more exiting innovations, and he looks forward to what himself and others will continue to bring to the table.

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