West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 46

A BRAND NAME Greenbrier glass artist's work has been featured throughout the country By Audrey Stanton-Smith, West Virginia South Contributor ❖ Photos by Rick Barbero Furnaces emit a bright glow. A few feet away, mounds of sugar-like color sit ready to melt into the patterns and shapes planned for them this day at Alex Brand’s glass studio, on the grounds of The Green- brier Hotel. Brand’s assistant, glass artist James Woodson, holds the cooler end of a hot pipe and gathers clear glass. He melts it, then picks up bits of sugary red glass called frit — soon to become the stripes of a little fish. He heats it again and hands it off to Brand, who blows into the pipe and uses his thumb to trap his air exactly where it should be. He swings the pipe to let the glass on the end stretch out a bit. The beginnings of a fish emerge as Brand uses a pad of folded up wet newspaper to shape its body. Back and forth they go, heating, rolling on colored frit, swinging, blowing, sculpt- ing, crimping, nipping, tweezing, texturing — working in turn, heating and blowing, to transform a gob of melted glass into a piece of art. 46 ❖ SOUTH ❖ APRIL-MAY '19