Michael Egan is a glass artist in Granville, Vermont.
I was only eight years old, during the American Bicentennial year, when I came across an old, faded clapboard shed just south of Waitsfield village in Central Vermont. Centered in that room on the dirt floor was a small glass-melting furnace, roaring brilliantly orange. It was incredibly hot. It hurt to look directly into the flame but that's what I did, fascinated by the power and majesty of glass. This was the domain of two local glassblowers, and their world of manipulating glass, one of the oldest and most basic craft materials.
Thirty-two years later, I am manipulating glass to manifest my creative vision. With only a few basic elements, silica sand, soda ash, and limestone, I use intense heat to melt a clear base glass, which I then weave into a tapestry of art and objects from the simplest vase to the most complex sculpture.
I was born right here in Vermont in 1968 in the small farming town of Fayston, population at the time 273. There were five of us in my kindergarten class. Following my elementary studies, I attended the local High School in Duxbury, Vt. After graduation, I moved to Burlington to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sculpture at the University of Vermont. At a party, a friend invited me to visit the glass shop where he worked. I started hanging out at the hot shop, owned by Alan Goldfarb, an amazingly talented glass artist and supportive mentor. Eventually I was hired on as first assistant, later running Alan's second work station as glassblower while solidifying hand skills and developing my own creative aesthetic.
After my first apprenticeship I made piecework in a number of Vermont studios. Throughout the years, I was privileged to study with many glass artists including Richard Marquis, Jack Wax and Lino Tagliapietra. In the summer of 2000, Granville, Vermont became the home of my first studio and gallery where I reside today, right on Route 100 nestled against the Green Mountain National Forest. I am located just south of the Mad River Valley home to The Mad River Glen Ski Area and Sugarbush. It couldn't possibly be a more beautiful spot.
I welcome you to come and find me here and watch this amazing process up close and personal. I have successfully designed my facility to invite you, the public, to almost be part of the action. You're right there with me as I work, often I will explain as I go, describing the steps of the process.
Much of my work is an exploration of possibilities using intricate traditional Italian cane, in the Murano tradition. During a visit to my studio you might see my team at work producing these remarkable glass rods. Using a wide array of ancient techniques I blend clear base glass with colored glass from Germany and New Zealand, drawing and twisting large masses of glass into rods up to 50 feet long and sometimes no thicker than a familiar yellow pencil.
Making my own cane allows me the latitude to carry a creative concept from the very first hint of an idea to its full fruition. This cane, when broken into shorter lengths, informs the final design of much of my glasswork, both functional wares and sculpture.