John Hudnut beautifully combines art and utility in many of his blown glass pieces.
For years, John Hudnut put his BS in industrial design to use creating everything from snack crackers to toilet seat covers. But since changing gears six years ago, the California native finds himself practicing his passion—creating blown glass art—as a full-time career.
He and his wife, Kate, run GatherHouse in Frisco. True to its name, the gallery brings artists together for collaboration and idea sharing. Shelves spanning the west-facing windows display the output of Hudnut and his students: vases, pitchers, and drinking glasses that cast rainbows in the midafternoon sun. And Hudnut and his support crew (which could include you) continue their efforts to transform glass rods and shards into enticing—and often utilitarian—objets d’art. —Interview by Rachel Meisler
CSM: What attracted you to glass art?
JH: It was the hardest medium. You have to be strong to hold the weight and maneuver it. Glass is crazy, it’s unique, it’s highly viscous material. The variation is infinite; you consistently surprise yourself with what you do. The second piece of glass I made, I sold (the first piece, Mom has), so it’s always been part of the overall income. Just doing it on the side wasn’t enough.
There are some fantastic glassblowers in the world. I cut my teeth in Europe and came back to the States to the two meccas of glass: Corning, New York, and Seattle—the Pilchuck Glass School. Humans have worked with this material for only 5,000 years.
CSM: What’s going on at GatherHouse?
JH: We have glassblowing, goldsmithing, and gemology classes. Adam Kelly is here; he’s been making jewelry for about 13 years, including custom work, repairs, metal and stone, silver, gold, platinum, and opal inlay. The response to lessons has been phenomenal; people really enjoy a three-hour session. Also, we open the doors for people to come watch and participate in blowing glass Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m.
CSM: Do visitors need any experience to participate?
JH: Everyone is encouraged to come forth with ideas and critiques. I go for the result: I take you beyond your limit as a student, we mess it up, I fix it, and we end up with a work of art. You have to be open to the screw-up. With blowing glass, the temptation is to overwork.
CSM: What are some of your artistic influences?
JH: I attempt to be influenced by history and the environment, especially mountain views. I’ve worked with Frisco Elementary kids and have all ages and abilities coming in, from a retired schoolteacher to a few teens. The kids, I put ’em to work, say “do this, do that,” but their perspective influences my work.
CSM: What’s next?
JH: One important project this year is a fundraiser to support the local Bristlecone Hospice. Anyone can come to the shop and make a holiday ornament; donations benefit Bristlecone Health Services.
110 Second Ave., Frisco
Rachel Meisler is a multimedia artist, yoga teacher, and outdoor enthusiast. She lives and writes in a sunny garden in Alma with her boyfriend and her cat.