Michael Egan: On exhibit at Edgewater
MIDDLEBURY — A young red-headed boy from the small town of Fayston sat quietly as he watched the artists collecting the glowing molten glass with the ends of their steel pipes. He was only 8 years old when he discovered this magic taking place before his eyes. He drew the connection between the process he was watching, and the product; the Italian glass he admired in the antique shop down the road was created this way. It was 1976 and Michael Egan had discovered glass blowing, an art he would someday master.
Growing up, Egan had always had an interest in art making. He spent his summers learning different techniques in camp such as weaving and sculpting. After attending high school in Duxbury, he went on to receive a BFA in Sculpture at the University of Vermont. It was at a UVM gathering that he met Alan Goldfarb who invited him to his glass blowing studio.
It was only a matter of time until Egan was the assistant to one of the greatest glass artisans on the East Coast. He studied Goldfarb and learned the skill sets and techniques, but most importantly he learned the “wild mind” of the glass blowing artist. Goldfarb taught Egan that there are two kinds of glass artists: the one who masters his technique to please the customer and sell, and then there is the artist who takes advantage of their creative mind to feed their muse.
Egan explained, “The process of glassblowing is much like playing a classical instrument. You familiarize yourself with the instrument and through passion and muscle memory you push yourself to explore new pieces that challenge these skills and develop your individual style.”
For the past 16 years Egan has worked in his personal studio and gallery, Green Mountain Glassworks in Granville. He celebrates being “off the grid” and embraces the dirt roads and Green Mountains. Seasonal travelers enter the studio to find a man cheerfully “fishing with fire” happy to converse as he juggles the tools capable of producing his next piece.
Egan cherishes his customer connections. He allows people to explore the studio and be up-close and personal with the processes of his glass blowing. He sees the same amazement he once had for this art form in the eyes of his audience. He shares his passion with Vermont through the open doors of his studio and by teaching, proudly training half a dozen young people in the art of glassblowing through internships at his studio.
The style of glass that Egan creates resembles the same colors and movement as a firework frozen in time; an explosion of shape and color. His psychedelic colors and whimsical shapes are both bold statements as well as functional pieces. This look is created using rods of colored glass that are sometimes over 50 feet long, which he gets from Germany and New Zealand. Blended and twisted within the clear base glass gives the artworks their Sea Anemone-like movement.
“So many people go through life stumbling over the waves that they forget to pay attention to the beauty of the splash,” said Egan. “I want people to experience the moment and let time stand still.”
Egan displays his Marble-tini collection at Edgewater Gallery at Middlebury Falls. These functional art pieces contain the colorful entanglement of different glass held in a spherical “stem” to a martini glass cone. Each year, in the fall and early winter, he also has a selection of blown glass pumpkins and ornaments on display at Edgewater, beautiful for adorning a holiday table or tree.