Finally there is a podcast out for flameworkers/lampworkers! Hurrah! Thanks to Marcie Davis for bringing a radio show for flameworkers to our computers and iPods! Before Glasscaster, there was/is GlassTalk Radio but since I am a MacHead, I was never able to get it to run on my Mac. Missed out on alot of great interviews but Glasscaster will fill that void nicely!
In this show entitled "The Life of an Artist: Is it for You?" Marcie has lined up some of the flameworking greats, Paul Stankard and Fred Birkhill. Davis interviewed both at the annual Flameworking Conference held at Salem Community College in New Jersey.
Glasscaster opens with some catchy instrumental music which fades as Davis begins the show and interview with Stankard. Davis is an excellent interviewer, she asks the questions that all of us are thinking. The first time I listened to the show, what stood out for me were the voices of Davis, Stankard and Birkhill. No disrespect intended to either Davis or Stankard, but both voices were fairly monotone making them difficult to listen to for the entire 21:50 minutes of the Stankard interview. In person, their voices would be supported by seeing the person, their gestures, facial expression, etc. and I doubt I would have felt their voices were monotone. On a radio show, the voices have to carry the listeners' interest and I felt myself wanting more inflection, more "personality" because I couldn't see them. In contrast, when Davis began the interview with Birkhill, his voice was full of personality, inflection and enthusiasm. His excitement about flameworking became my excitement and I wanted to hear more than 15 minutes!
Voices aside, the show was engaging and the questions thoughtful. While being interviewed, Stankard mentions several books that he feels an asipiring artist should read. I've posted most of them below with either summaries or links to summaries for those who are interested.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence Robert Pirseg (first published 1974, 25th Anniversary edition, 1999) From the back cover:
A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintencance becomes a personal and philogophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. The narrator’s relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reconing: the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconcliling science, relition and humanism. Resonant with the confusion of existence, this class is a touching and transcendent book of life.
The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property– by Lewis Hyde first published 1979 – Literary Criticism/Sociology – from back cover:
The gift is an inquiry into the place of creativity in our market-oriented society. Starting with the premise that the work of art is a gift and not a commodity. Lewis Hyde’s revolutionary book ranges across anthropology, literature, economics, and psychology to show how the “commerce of the creative spirit” functions in the lives of artists and in the culture as a whole.
Ayn Rand – The Fountainhead. From the back cover:
When it was first published in 1943, the fountainhead, Ayn Rand’s daringly original literary vision and her groundbreaking philosophy,, Objectivisim, won immediate world wide interest and acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him.
Robert Hughes – American Visions excerpt at: American Visions
Earnest Gombich – The Story of Art
(I have the last book, The Story of Art and it is a readable art history book. Lots of pictures of the artwork Gombich describes. His writing style is accessible and not full of professional jargon. Worth the $30.00 I paid for the hard cover off Amazon. )
I must admit to being puzzled about some of the book recommendations. I am not sure how Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair makes one a significantly better artist. However, art is subjective and a whole variety of things can make one a good artist. Although I may or may not agree with the recommendations, I will agree if Stankard feels reading it made him a better artist, then by all means read it! No one can argue with the beauty of his paperweights and his skill as an artist.
After about 22 minutes, the show transitions to Birkhill. I'd like to hear a little more of the instrumental music between the interviews - it would help to bring back listeners who may have drifted off. However, the minute Birkhill starts to speak, he draws you in with his voice - he's excited and his love of flameworking comes through the earphones. Birkhill's portion of the show addresses the title - The Life of An Artist - is it for you? best. He describes his own journey and how art can be a compulsion - something you can't NOT do! Many of the listeners will feel the same. It was interesting to hear how his "failures" at other careers lead him to his current and successful career as a glass artist. At the end of Birkhill's interview, Davis promises to interview him again in the future. I look forward to hearing more.
Glasscaster gets a thumbs up and thanks to Marcie Davis for all the hard work it takes to put a podcast together. I look forward to future shows.
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or via Marcie Davis's site: Glasscaster Hot Glass Talk in a High Tech World!