Glass and Grapes: The Museum’s Master Glassmakers featured at 2300° Finger Lakes Finest

Those who came to January’s 2300°: Finger Lakes Finest were treated to not only free wine tastings from 30 of the Finger Lakes’ best local wineries, but also a spectacular show by two of the Museum’s resident master glassmakers, Eric Goldschmidt and Eric Meek.

Glass amphora with grapes at January's 2300

Goldschmidt, the Museum’s Innovations Center programs supervisor, and Meek, Hot Glass Show supervisor, combined their glassmaking specialties, flameworking and blown forms respectively, to create a one-of-a-kind glass amphora. Amphoras were used in antiquity for storing wine, and their deep red colored blown glass vase with flameworked bunches of grapes and frolicking figures was a perfect tribute to the evening. I caught up with the Erics after the show to ask about their collaboration.

Tell me about what you worked on at tonight’s show.

Eric Meek: Tonight Eric and I collaborated on a piece.  We stuck to the theme of wine – it’s an evening of wine tasting here at 2300°, so we made an amphora shape in a wine red color and then embellished it with flameworked grape clusters and then revelers all around the piece.

Eric Goldschmidt: I specialize in flameworking, so I made some really detailed figurative elements that we applied to a beautiful vase that he worked on with our assistants here on stage.

Meek: Eric worked on the torch, and we then attached the figures to the large-scaled blown form, all on the Innovation Stage.

Eric Meek at 2300°: Finger Lakes Finest

Eric Meek at 2300°: Finger Lakes Finest

How did you come up with the design?

Meek: Really, Eric and I kicked the idea around for the last couple of months. We both immediately thought of wine glasses because they are very much in the theme of the event. But, we thought the scale of something larger would be better and it would also allow us to put a lot more into it and really make the piece something special. In the end, we decided to go with the big amphora piece.

Goldschmidt: We wanted to make something a little bit more unique and ended up going with the grape theme. It was nice to go with our specialties – his with the blown forms and mine with the figurative things. It all seemed to fall together.

Have you two worked together before?

Goldschmidt: We’ve known each other for about 10 years, and we have worked together at the Museum for a long time. We’ve wanted to work together for a while, but until we had the opportunity to do this demonstration, we never had the chance to actually make glass together. We were excited to finally be able get together the last couple of weeks and make it happen.

Eric Goldschmidt at 2300

Eric Goldschmidt at 2300°: Finger Lakes Finest

Tell me about the crowd at 2300°. What’s it like to work in front of this audience?

Goldschmidt: It was pretty intense. We had five people on stage, and we don’t typically have that many. There were three different torches going at any given time, and a couple of furnaces going. It was intense! It required a lot of communication and a lot of focus.

Meek: I’m involved with organizing the 2300° events every month and I enjoy supporting the visiting artists who come and do a 2300° show. But tonight it was great to actually be in the bench. We have glassmakers from all over who come as guest artists but it’s great when the home team can do a fantastic piece!

Eric Goldschmidt and Eric Meek on the 2300 stage

Eric Goldschmidt flameworked glass grapes while Eric Meek worked on a large amphora.

What was your favorite part of the evening?

Meek: My favorite part of the evening was working with Eric.  Like he said, we’ve worked together as colleagues for 10 years, but we’ve never collaborated on a piece so this was an opportunity for us to focus on doing that. And, I think it was good tonight that everything didn’t work out completely perfectly because both of us are perfectionists and we want to do it again now! It was fun.

We’ll have to start a weekly Eric and Eric Show.

Meek: I think so!

Join us for 2300°: Hot Blues, next Thursday February 21, 5:30–7:30pm, with glassblowing by Sam Drumgoole and live blues by the Kelly Bell Band.