© William Grout 2017
Bill and Rae at Lake Como located in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana.
Although growing up in the Seattle area (well known now for it’s glassblowing community), it was not until after leaving the corporate world behind and moving to Montana that I began torching glass. It was on a trip back to Seattle in 1993 that I happened upon Isis Ray, who was selling her handmade beads from a booth in the Public Market. Seeing her beads opened a door, which drew me into the world of glassblowing. She had a very brief description on a small card describing how they were made, and that was the seed for it all. Being a good fire sign, (read pyro), I was immediately drawn to the idea of playing with fire, and perhaps even earning some money in the process. Originally selling at Art Fairs and Galleries, we now have our own store in Corvallis Montana.
I don't consider myself an Artist in the modern sense, but rather an Artisan in the Old World sense where “the art of glassblowing” would refer more to skill and technique. Pulling and twisting glass is a magical and technically challenging skill, which I have been known for and enjoy very much. The ribbon cane has become a decorative element in much of my work. Through the process of creating literally thousands of small beads, I continue to enjoy the challenge of glasswork whether simple or complex in design, to be the right size, shape, and have that sense of love in it’s creation.
In contemplating my place in the world, I often times reflect on the relevance of my work and my lifestyle. I am after all in the business of selling a handmade item that is a pure luxury. Nobody requires my glass artwork to survive, but perhaps it is fair to say there are those whose life is enriched in a significant way by my work. I know there are those whose face lights up with a smile when they see and hold these creations of fire and earth. That is my reward and my inspiration to continue spreading love and harmony, one piece at a time.
Special thanks and tribute go to the following people for their inspiration in my early work:
Patricia Frantz for her work with dichroic beads.
Isis Ray for her dedication to the small bead.
Michael Barley for his incredible variety of bicones.
Larry Scott for his whimsical and non traditional beads.
Sage and Tom Holland for the warmth and soul they place in their work.
Brian Kirkvliet for his integration of techniques.
There are many others that have, and continue to inspire and push the limits of lampworking.
For 20 years I worked in the printed circuit board electronics industry. I have a chemical engineering background and understand the importance of thermal dynamics. This was one of the keys to printed circuit board stability. That same principal flows over into proper glass annealing after the glassblowing process. I had studied fine art and sculpture at Pratt and several art studios around the Seattle area. One day I met a glass instructor with an eye patch. I asked him why his classes were not held at night or on weekends so working people like me could take his classes. I don't remember his exact words but later on realized I had been talking to the glass god Dale Chihuly. Now I wish I had taken time out of my day job to study in his glassblowing classes. His glass art has always moved and inspired me euphorically.
I started working with hot glass in 2002 when I was introduced to it by Bill Grout, a glass artist who has worked in the field since 1993. In April of 2003 I moved to the beautiful Bitterroot Valley of Montana to be with Bill and become a full time glass artist. On January 24, 2004 Bill and I eloped and I wrote my family from the hotel room "hey guess what I did this weekend" Hee Hee. Bill and I live on a 10 acre farm that over looks the valley. The beauty and serenity of the environment we live in is fused into the glass pieces we create. Our glass studio is about 20 steps from our house and if you hear the place rocking don't bother knocking, just come on in :-