Music Credit: Blake Rutledge
Who is Alex
When you first meet Alex Quatrano, he might seem just like any other laidback, friendly guy—but this dread-locked, pre-med student also possesses an artistic soul and has recently been trying his hand at glassblowing. Follow Alex as he takes a step away from the confines of campus, heads East down Delmar to Third Degree Glass Factory and explores the world of glass blowing.
Want to connect with Alex? E-mail him at email@example.com.
Kuumba.tv: How did you get interested in art?
Alex: Well, I love to create things so the concept of making art just came naturally. As a kid, I would make things with my hands, small sculptures and such. My grandmother taught me how to use watercolor when I was pretty young and then later I started doing some drawing on my own. I also had a painting instructor for a while which helped my drawing and got me thinking about color. I only got into glass, recently, after taking a U-College class at WashU. The shift to glass has been the most dramatic change I’ve made media-wise. It’s so different from anything else I’ve done. It really requires a whole separate set of skills.
Kuumba.tv: What’s most interesting to you about glass blowing?
Alex: I’m kind of all over the place, but at the end of the day it is definitely about the process. I really enjoy doing it. I definitely like a piece to end up looking good, but I’m more interested in using techniques to come up with new methods of making it look good. I’ll draw from the colors in one piece, a certain technique I used on another piece and put them together. I’m interested in developing my skills further and seeing where that will take me.
Kuumba.tv: Can you describe the process of learning glass blowing?
Alex: The coolest part about glass blowing is that the saying “minutes to learn, a lifetime to master” couldn’t be more true. It’s a simple art form in principle—you just pick up tools and shaping material. Where it gets challenging is working with these materials at just the right temperature, at just the right speed. That’s the challenge and that’s where you just have to be patient and keep trying. You see someone who’s been working for six years and they are great and doing things I never could make. But then you see someone who’s been doing this for twelve years and they just put the person who’s been doing this for six years to shame. At the end of the day, you never really stop learning how to blow glass.
Kuumba.tv: Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?
Alex: I definitely draw from other people’s work. I’m always thinking, “How do they do that?”, or, “Is this something I like and want to try to create in my own work?” Most of it is just awe because I see things that others create and those pieces are beyond me at this point. I’d say I’m constantly inspired when I watch my instructors work and when I browse pieces at Third Degree Glass.
Kuumba.tv: Does seeing what other’s create inspire your own projects?
Alex: Absolutely. When you see someone before you make a sweet vase, you immediately want to try it especially because you just saw them go through whole process of making it. You can’t describe the process well enough with words because the act of making these pieces is so immediate and one-of-a-kind. There’s no formula and you can never really make the same piece twice. It’s complicated, so you just want to watch people or show them yourself. So much information about glass blowing is shown through the body just going through the process of making pieces.
Kuumba.tv: Would you describe glass blowing as a group-oriented studio practice or a solitary art form?
Alex: In class, I usually work with two other people. In that sense, it’s definitely a group-oriented studio practice. You can have somebody paddling the bottom as you blow and another person bringing you tools. They can also help you with technique because everyone has dealt with one issue or another. We give each other advice constantly. Having this kind of support all the time is really helpful. Plus, it’s fun working together.
Kuumba.tv: What do your friends think about this?
Alex: They love it. They think it’s hilarious but they also respect it. I think they get it’s a hard thing and they’ve seen me improve. I came back the first couple days with such an ugly piece and they were like, “Okay, whatever.” Now, I’m coming back with legitimate pieces and now they are like, “All right, you really are learning how to make cool stuff.”
Kuumba.tv: Is glass blowing something you would like to continue in the future?
Alex: Yeah, this is something I definitely want to continue forever, or as long as possible. It’s a great break. It’s a great outlet of creativity.
Collaborators: Luke Terrell, Anita Khoong, Jenny Saylak, Lorraine Kim, Dakari Quimby