It is difficult to be an artist, or craftsman in normal circumstances but after the Pandemic hit in 2020 it is more so than ever. I visited Jon and Sheri Bush from Hot Glass Ranch, a glass blowing studio in Lucerne Valley this week and got a look inside his glass blowing studio.
I was impressed with how much the craftsmanship of his glass blowing translated around his home and land. The buildings were beautifully crafted with repurposed materials and made useful in his garden, landscaping, and workshop.
It takes a lot of work to do this kind of art. From finding the materials, organizing them, building the infrastructure of his machinery and workshop, to spending most of their days concentrating their efforts blowing glass.
Jon and Sheri Bush graciously invited me into their home workshop. Walking into their yard they have a large section of their yard dedicated to their work. With a metal sign above the sectioned land which says Hot Glass Ranch.
Entering into The Glass Blowing Studio
I waved to Sheri on the way in, they worked in a way where if you were there visiting you must be familiar. I felt very comfortable nosing around until I found Jon hard at work in the middle of a piece.
They had sectioned off safe zones for those coming to watch. They seemed very comfortable with onlookers. Something they must have learned from nearly forty years at Renaissance fairs.
They keep all of their glass pieces used for their work in reused jars. There is a consistent blowing sound in the background from the furnace and soon you hardly hear it at all.
The atmosphere was relaxed but busy. Something that working artists seem to know about very well. We had walked in when they were in the zone.
Jon Bush has spent the last forty years blowing glass. He graduated with his Masters Degree from California State University, Fullerton in Glass Sculpture. His wife Sheri, graduated from California State University, San Bernardino, with a degree in Printmaking and Graphic Design. Somewhere along the way she discovered glassblowing and never looked back.
“I never wanted to make a living sitting in front of a computer,” Sheri Bush told me. Something that as we all know now has almost become a necessity since the Pandemic hit.
The glass starts off as small pieces. The Bushes have favorite glass and color they prefer from all over the world. They warm the glass in a warmer and it starts the melting process. It makes it so the glass is flexible and workable.
The glass is rolled onto a flat stainless surface to start the shaping. It looks like it is spun and reheated in a multi step process.
Color pieces are added and some times more molten glass is added to shape a handle for mugs. The work is done so well and the Bushes know each other’s steps and every move.
I watched Jon and his wife listen to each other’s cues as they worked. The couple moved back and forth with each process and she helped with the opening of the glass to create a hole at the top so it can function as a vase or a tumbler. It was very rhythmic and fun to watch.
Before we knew it, some time had passed and we had watched the couple make several pieces before we decided to buy some.
Struggles from the Pandemic
They have managed to make a good living as artists all of this time, however, they have lost business this year with the closures of all of their art fairs and festivals this year due to Covid 19 Pandemic.
“This is the first time in 40 years I’ve lost money,” said Jon.
The running of the furnace is not cheap. The heating of their furnaces besides materials is probably the most costly.
Although they had lost some major avenues to their business, they did not seem too worried. They have been at this for so long they have a loyal set of customers which help keep them going.
Under Normal Circumstances
Jon and Sheri Bush spend half the year blowing glass in Lucerne Valley, California blowing glass and making beautiful tumblers, vases, ornaments, and wine glasses. They spend their summer months in Colorado displaying their work at the Renaissance faire and host a glass studio.
This year they spent the whole year in Lucerne Valley. They have had this home for several decades and this is the first summer they spent with our desert heat. It was quite a difference from the average summer temperatures in Colorado.
Lucerne valley’s average temperature in the summer is well over 100 degrees in the day. Which would make it quite uncomfortable to be working surrounded by a molten furnace.
Usually the desert is an escape from snow in Colorado. But this year it was very different.
During the winter months the glass blowing artists retreat to the privacy of their home in Lucerne Valley where they can work and enjoy the quiet the desert air brings. Every year in December they open their home up to the public for their Annual Holiday Home show.
This year because of Covid 19, the glass blowers are taking precautions and are allowing their home to be opened up with restrictions. They would love the people to come and purchase the artisan glass by appointment only.
They would like to limit the crowds at their place of residence. Which will keep everyone safer.
Where you can purchase
The events where you will be able to purchase the glass will be:
December 12 and the 19 from 10 am to 4 pm at their Lucerne Valley home:
11180 Post Office Rd #7699, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356
Please call ahead to schedule your time slot due to new Covid regulations.
Online you can purchase through their glass by contacting them directly on their Facebook Page @HotGlassRanch
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