All About Glass 

Glass artist Filip Vogelpohl on his art, his work, his life

At the corner of Myrtle and Sixth streets in Boise sits a working art gallery of glass called Boise Art Glass. A step inside the door reveals beautiful glass bowls, sculpture and jewelry in displays on the right. To the left is where all that beauty is created. Several stations allow artists, artisans and those new to the art of blowing glass to create in an environment perfectly suited for working with such a fragile medium.

Boise Weekly sat down with artist and owner of Boise Art Glass, Filip Vogelpohl to talk about his education, his art and his gallery.

BW: How many people do you have working for you?

Filip Vogelpohl: I have someone who runs the front of the store, two people who blow glass for me and then four resident artists who rent from me.

Do those artists sell their own work or do you sell it for them?

Both. The majority of their stuff they sell out of state at shows or in stores. I also bring in work of artists who don't work here so there are 11 artists total represented. Three are from out of state, the rest are local.

So you don't just hang around and blow glass. This is really more of a gallery.

Yeah, but it's not only blown glass. It's also fused glass, stained glass and cast glass. I'm trying to show all the glasses, not just blown glass.

Do you keep the place running purely on what you sell?

Well, we sell artwork, we have classes, we rent space and then people can purchase supplies through us, too. I'm able to supply people with tools and equipment.

Do you offer classes in all different kinds of glasswork?

No, just the flameworking glass.

How long have you been doing this yourself?

About 10 years.

What got you started?

I saw a friend blowing glass in his garage and I thought it was interesting so I started blowing glass with him. I got really serious about it and took some classes.

Did you take college classes?

No. Back when I started, there weren't any college classes or any where you could go and get a degree in glass blowing. There are facilities that offer classes, like Pilchuk in Seattle. There's a place in Eugene called the Eugene Glass School. There's a place called Glass Puck in Colorado. There's the Philadelphia Glass Works in Philadelphia. These places will bring in feature artists and you can go to their Web sites and look around and see what kind of work they [the artists] do, and if you're interested then you take their classes which might be a one-day workshop, three-day workshop or a weeklong workshop. It just depends on what category you want to go into or what artist you're researching or what technique, and then you go and take the class. That's basically my formal education. That and collaborating with other artists. I travel all around the world: [In April] I was in Japan, where I taught four classes in four different cities. Then I did a borosilicate art glass show in Tokyo and sold a lot of stuff there. It was one of the best trips I've ever been on. I'll go back there again in April of [2007]. In 2008, I'm going to be a featured artist at the International Lampwork Festival in Kobe [Japan]. I just got into the International Lampwork Museum in Kobe. They carry lampwork glass, which is the kind of glass we do here, and they have [work by] artists from all over the world.

Glass is an amazing art form and the pieces are probably an easy way for someone to start a nice art collection because it can be affordable.

We do small pieces but we also do things like giant chandeliers. I just got done doing a chandelier installation down in Garden City. We're doing a chandelier and all the shot glasses for a new tequila restaurant. I just did a bunch of awards for a big scientific firm back East.

Are you an Idaho native?

No, I came as a refugee [from Prague, Czechloslovakia] at age 10.

And you've been here ever since?

Yeah, and now I have a 7-year-old daughter and she keeps me here.

Does she blow glass?

Yes. She started when she was 5. She makes beads and stuff. I've never pushed her to do it. She always asks on her own. I never say to her, "Let's go blow glass." She asks me and she's all about it. She gets home from school and we do her homework and then I'll say, "Do you want to watch TV?" and she'll say, "No, let's go blow glass."

Where was your shop before this?

It was a small 908-square-foot place under the name First Class Glass. It was a good place to start off at. I wasn't sure it [the business] would even take off. I was there for three years, and when the owner sold the building, the new owner raised the rent so I decided it was time to look for something bigger.

How did you end up over here?

I spent four months looking for a new location. Noel Weber, the guy who owns Classic Design Studio [next door] made it possible. I owe everything to him. He's taken me under his wing and I feel really fortunate.

What would you like people to know about Boise Art Glass?

I just want people to know what we do and how we do it. People hear "glass blowing" and they think Chihuly-style in a furnace and that's not what we do. We use torches for our heat sources. It's not that it's easier or safer or anything, it's just different. We use different colors, different techniques. I just want to get glass in general out there. There isn't another place like this in Boise. Once you get someone hooked on glass, they tend to come back because they get really into it.

--Amy Atkins

Thursday, 6-9 p.m., demos with Filip Vogelphol and Joey Peterson, refreshments and appetizers will be served. Boise Art Glass, 530 W. Myrtle, Boise, 345-1825, www.boiseartglass.com.

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