Orange flames lick blue glass.
Yet, Yesterday’s Sand glass studio isn’t sweat-worthy.
Chris Windsor spins and talks.
This medium affords efficiency, the artist explains, plus Pyrex is harder and lighter than traditional materials.
“At the end of the day if I turn off my torch and turn off my kiln, my shop costs me zero dollars instantly. Whereas with soft glass studios … you have furnaces and glory holes where, once they’re primed and hot, you have to use (them) until all the glass is gone,” he said. “At any time I can stop what I’m doing and walk away.”
The Central Saanich artist’s fascination with glass blowing began 15 years ago in college when he befriended the onsite glass blower in his chemistry lab.
“He showed me glass blowing,” Windsor said. “Then I met the guy with colour.”
The clear-glass work of lab pieces couldn’t compete, and Windsor didn’t look back (though scientific glassware remains a Plan B).
Growing up, Windsor says he bored easily.
“Being smart was a curse,” he said. “I’d attain the knowledge and lose interest.”
Chemistry offered some depth, new challenges. The colour and flame offer more.
“With glass, it’s limitless,” he said. “I am constantly learning and adapting and changing my style.”
His first few years were spent making ends meet creating wholesale curios, but his style led to some significant commissions in the US and Canada.
In an Atlanta, Georgia hospital, six-foot tall Chasing Rainbows creates a sea of glass in a rainbow of colours floating down 16 feet of wall space. Installed late last year, it took him 18 months to create the 600 pieces and a week of graveyard shifts to install.
“I wanted to build something where every person coming in will say ‘wow’ and be uplifted,” he explained. “Healthy people don’t go there, chasing rainbows is what people do in a hospital.”
The American market provided success, but with a waning economy, he’s looking to be a little more local.
“Now I’m selling a lot of jewelry and artifacts related to wine,” he said.
Behind him barrels provide evidence of the other art brewing at De Vine Vineyards where Windsor’s wife Natalie is the vintner. Among the seven new artists on the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula’s fall studio tour, Windsor’s stop on the tour will offer a grape escape as well as creative genius. Visitors will sip complementary wine beneath his 250-peice, three-foot by two-foot glass chandelier Moonstruck.
Aside from the jewelry, stoppers and glasses he’s still looking to light up some lives, with smaller chandeliers.
“It’s all fun,” he said with a grin. “I play with fire and colour. This is a wonderful job.”
Learn more about the artist at www.yesterdays-sand.com.