February’s 2300°: Hot Blues featured visiting glass artist Sam Drumgoole who currently lives and works in Columbus, OH. Hailing from Rochester, NY, Sam has worked with Dale Chihuly in Seattle and studied at Pilchuck and Alfred University before opening his own studio. For 2300°, Sam worked with Museum glassblowers Eric Meek and G Brian Juk to hot sculpt a figure of a dancer based on the American-born French dancer Josephine Baker. I caught up with him after the show to ask more about his work.
What’s new, Sam?
I’m building a glass studio right now, just in the process.
When did you first start working in glass?
I’ve been working in glass for about 24 years. I started pretty young. I had some great opportunities and had some great people come into my life and I just ran with it – love it to death.
You’ve worked with Chihuly, what was that like?
I met Chihuly when I was 15 at the School of the Arts, Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY. He’d come in for, I think they were in the process of purchasing some work or he was going to donate some work. I had spent some time blowing glass at the Horizons camp (now called Snow Farm Summer for High School Students) near North Hampton, MA , I made some glass there. Had a little glass show at the School of the Arts while Dale was visiting and introduced myself to him and the rest is history.
And then you went out to Pilchuck?
My first time there I spent the whole summer at Pilchuck. My first class was with Josiah McElheny. Preston Singletary was a TA, Ben Edols was a TA. And it was probably the most amazing glass experience ever to have those guys as my first actual glass teachers.
It sounds like an amazing experience. So what is the focus of your work?
Since opening my studio, I’m doing a lot of sculpture now. Working on a figure, trying to get proportions right, that’s what my focus is right now.
What did you work on tonight?
We did a Josephine Baker sculpture tonight. Kind of a real, kind of an impressionist sculpture, all black. I don’t know if you guys know who Josephine Baker is. She’s from the early 40s, a dancer. She was pretty famous in Paris, but never really got famous here. This piece was paying homage to her.
Have you made other forms based on dancers?
That’s something I’m working on right now. I’m doing a lot of clay sculptures right now to kind of transition into these glass sculptures so I’m doing a lot of clay work right now too.
Oh yeah. Movement is probably the main focus of what I’m doing right now. I’m not really going to go into being anal about the glass. I want it to do what it does. Set a bit into place and leave it, add another one onto that bit and leave it until I get some movement out of the piece.
What was it like working tonight at 2300°?
Amazing. Eric and G Brian – they’re bad ass. I hope you guys put that in–don’t edit that out–they are bad ass. They are great glassblowers and it was a pleasure to work with them.
Have you been to the Museum before?
Yes, I worked at the Museum many years ago. This place is amazing. All the great people that come in and make work and leave and come back. This is heaven for glassmakers.