In stepping in and out of so many artists’ studios in the last two years, I realize that spaces can be categorized in two ways – those that provide inspiration and those that are all about the process. While some studios straddle the two, Jim Loewer’s studio, situated within a complex for various artists in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, was designed for his process. With little choices for a comfortable seat, Jim’s studio is built (and melted) around his tools, supplies, and storage of his finished product. He is a veritable one-man glass-blowing factory.
Don’t let that description lead you to believe his space was boring. Not in the slightest. Between the rock music and the pyrotechnics, I though I might have actually been at a Who concert, and the showmanship was just as exciting. He prepared the supplies for his two most popular UncommonGoods pieces – the Bullseye Suncatcher and Heart Bowl – so I could see them being completed, truly experiencing his process. He even gave me the opportunity to get in on the glass blowing experience.
Every time I step into a new studio, it is more unique than the last and my visit with Jim will definitely stand out in my mind as one of the most special.
What are your most essential tools?
A torch, oxygen, propane, various graphite tools, metal grabbers, clear and colored glass rod and tubing, rock and roll or NPR.
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Honestly, I’m starting to get a little crowded in here and look for a bigger space, but I like to have my laptop for breaks and I like the light coming in through the large windows and the ride out here every day along the Schuylkill River.
Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Lately too much Facebook, but I try to save most of my down time for after work.
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
I under-priced my work for a long time because I was just so happy that people wanted it.
What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Don’t under-price your work and don’t go to law school (I accidentally went to law school at night a few years ago but remained a glassblower with an expensive j.d.). Also, save more time for making artwork and new work that’s not already in your catalog. (That last one’s for the me of today.)
How do you set goals for yourself?
I make a shipping schedule as far in advance as I can based on wholesale orders, I write lots of lists and occasionally do things on them.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I try to celebrate victories and failures equally by spending time with my family, drinking bourbon, and eating out here in Philly.
What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
I’m not so much of a quote guy, but here a few I like and maybe you can help me decide which one works best
“Most things don’t stay the way they are very long.”
― Richard Ford,
“Some idiotic things are well worth doing.”
― Richard Ford,
We have art in order not to die of the truth.
Of all lies, art is the least untrue.
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
The aesthetic of most of my work is pretty organic and purposely non-uniform. I’m trying to get better at some of the basic old school glass blowing techniques that I kind of skipped over when I started making art -like making uniform wine and martini glasses. I’m just working on this through trial and error like I do with everything.
One of the best things about glassblowing for me is that I don’t think about it in terms of “perfecting a craft” but just using a medium, about which I can always learn new things, to execute new ideas.
How do you recharge your creativity?
Read fiction or look at art that is not glass- like paintings, etc. Also bike riding, family, bourbon (see celebrations above).
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I should do more of that- I’m a lone wolf.