Knoxville glass makers turn hobby into successful studio

Knoxville glass makers turn hobby into successful studio

Posted:
Marble City Glassworks resident artist Chris Szaton at work Marble City Glassworks resident artist Chris Szaton at work
"No two pieces are the same," said owner Matt Salley. "No two pieces are the same," said owner Matt Salley.
The piece Chris made turned out to be a salamander. The piece Chris made turned out to be a salamander.
Their finished products can range from as little as $9.00... Their finished products can range from as little as $9.00...
...to thousands of dollars for more elaborate creations ...to thousands of dollars for more elaborate creations

By KRISTIN FARLEY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A lot of people dream of abandoning the corporate world and going out on their own, often turning a hobby into a full time job.

For a South Knoxville glass maker who started his own studio in 2008, it looks like that leap of faith is paying off.  

Marble City Glassworks is nestled in a garage at 1045 Artella Drive. Owner and studio manager Matt Salley explained the early days of the business. "We really started doing a lot of lighting at first, then functional wear, then sculpture. That's really our passion."

More on Marble City Glassworks

As Matt explained how the first century-style art is made, resident artist Chris Szaton worked on two speciality pieces for a local charity event. 

The two make quite a team, working in unison to create beautiful, unique glassware. Even something as simple looking as a drinking glass has personality. "

"No two pieces are the same," Salley said. "That is the character of them too, no two are exactly the same."

Salley showed us how the raw glass, or cullet, is melted in a furnace and kept pliable in a reheating chamber. It's essential to keep the glass at a certain temperature to avoid cracking and other imperfections.

"It's got the consistency of honey," Salley explained. "At 2,100 degrees, we can start manipulating the glass, rolling it in color and layer more glass over it."
 
As the process moves on, small puffs of air help infuse a bubble into the piece and give it the shape. "There is a misnomer about glass, just a little blowing is needed to get the desired effect," Salley said.

We learned that keeping things "on center"and constantly rolling a piece throughout the process is key to creating this delicate art.

Their finished products can range from as little as $9.00 for a glass lollipop to thousands of dollars for more elaborate creations.

You can see more of Marble City Glassworks during the Market Square Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Dogwood Arts Market Square Art Fair April 13-15.

They're also taking part in the Dogwood Art Detour April 28-29.

If you want to try glass blowing, on May 5 Marble City Glasswork is hosting its second Ornament Blow. People can register to make their own ornament for Mother's Day for $25.

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