This Month’s Featured Manufacturer is Greasy Glass, a small company based in Connecticut. Run by the young and passionate Ryan Sullivan, this operation produces some fun and often experimental colors.
Greasy Glass began bubbling in young Ryan’s mind when he was in high school. Fascinated by glass’s ability to be both transitive and permanent, Ryan often experimented with it after school. He used some locally mined silver and fused them into some pipettes to craft a pleasing silvery hue. He’s been hooked on color ever since.
Travelling to upstate New York, Ryan got a crash course in glass art in the studio of Jason Howard of Cicada Glassworks, focusing on the properties of borosilicate glass and flameworking. He also took some courses on soft glass sculpture at the University of Hartford. Taking this back to Connecticut, Ryan ran into some major challenges getting started with his glass company. There was no real infrastructure for the sharing of knowledge and skills for borosilicate glass smoking pipe-making. Social taboos against the borosilicate smoking pipe culture had driven the topic (and the studios, artists and glassmakers) to become very cautious in how they spoke about it, slowing growth and learning.
Once Ryan had reached a critical mass of knowledge (and equipment), he began coloring glass in earnest. Ryan draws his inspiration for new colors from the vibrant natural tableaux of Connecticut, from evening conversation, debates, arguments and breeze-shooting with his friends. All are streams of color drawn from the beauty of the world that he infuses into the glass in his workshop. Drawn to humor, Ryan and his friends often try to label his colors with odd names like “Blue Cheese” or “Grease Stain” (really anything that pops into their heads while crafting), to inject some silliness out into the wider world.
When asked about his most biggest mistake in the workshop he recounted a painful tale of working late and skipping some fairly important safety precautions. A globule of glass was melting into the wrong spot in his furnace and Ryan used a nearby rod to try and wriggle it loose. It was a quick move that he barely thought about. The glass rod shattered in exactly the wrong way and at the perfectly wrong angle, slicing Ryan’s arm. His difficulty flexing that hand lingers to this day and serves as a painful reminder of that mistake. Ryan remains ever positive about it, laughing as he recounts the pain.
Ryan has made some hard choices about keeping his work sustainable. Though it limits his palette, Ryan is intentional in his selection of materials that are the least harmful to the environment in his own personal effort to protect the source of his inspirations.
Check out some of Ryan’s creations in the store!