Summerlin-area glass blowers share art with public

The arts in Las Vegas have a new venue.

Domsky Glass is holding free glass-blowing demonstrations on Thursdays through Saturdays each month; the next ones are set for May 4-6 and June 1-3.

“We wanted to be more accessible to the public,” said Barbara Domsky. “So we get lots of phone calls, people asking if they can come watch us blow glass or take a workshop. Before this, that wasn’t really what we did. We did our commissioned pieces and lived our lives as artists.”

She and her husband, Larry, are Summerlin-area residents who began their business in 1990 and moved to its current location in 2011. Their creations can be seen at McCarran International Airport’s Terminal 3, among other places.

The open-house evenings will help people understand that the medium is an art form, the artists said.

By summer, Barbara said, they may offer workshops in which people can get hands-on experience.

“Everything will be very safe,” she said.

One of the couple’s passions is helping children with cancer. Once a year, they host an art party for such youngsters. The resulting art is auctioned to raise money for research and programs. The gallery portion of the business also features a new artist each month.

Appealing to locals is different from appealing to tourists, Larry said.

“Locals come down here and they’re pleasantly surprised,” he said. “It’s unexpected to have this kind of gallery in an industrial setting. But this is the migration that’s happening out of the arts district.”

The three-night open house invites viewers to speak up.

“We get questions, like, ‘How hot is it?’ and ‘Why are you blowing into the pipe?’ or ‘How come there’s a pipe with a hole and a pipe that’s solid?’ You learn the process,” Barbara said.

In the workshop in back of the 9,800-square-foot studio, 45 plastic lawn chairs were positioned in rows. The first event, in March, saw roughly 100 people show up. Some were families with infants, others with children as young as 7. This night, about 15 adults were there.

The informal demonstration began with Larry taking hot glass (read: practically liquid) from one of the ovens using a long pole.

“It’s all about control,” he told the audience. “You have to control the glass. Fusion is different; it’s all about design. It makes you be a good designer.”

The glass glowed white-hot. It comes out of the hole at roughly 2,200 degrees. The capture of glass was merely a blob at this point and would remain so, indistinguishable as anything else for 99 percent of the half-hour it took to work on it.

The pole was actually a hollow pipe, allowing one to blow air into the far end to affect an empty ball of glass at the other end. Larry worked the glass ball, making several visits back to the oven to keep the glass pliable. In between visits, he used a blowtorch to keep the ends hot.

When the piece got bigger, assistant Matt Humphrey stepped in to help. Humphrey also acted as a commentator, telling the audience what was being done and why.

The ending came quickly as the blob was spun into a flat shape and final touches made it into a fluted-edge platter.

“I’m into blacksmithing, so this is interesting,” attendee Kevin Green said afterward, adding that he had only seen glass blowing online. “It was an intense process. There were so many steps. I thought it was more like, just blowing into a pipe and fitting it into what you wanted. I didn’t understand the mechanics of it.”

Tiffany Tavares has tried glassblowing, making little pumpkins, and was impressed that the demonstration took things to a higher level.

“I feel glass art is underappreciated,” she said. “It’s not like you’re getting a glass vase from Walmart. Stuff like this is way cooler.” said.

Contact Jan Hogan at jhogan@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2949.

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