A look inside the mind of a glass artist.
Glassical Creations is a one man team featuring Nick Eggert. Previously a tattoo artist, Nick was attracted to the glassblowing industry by a group of friends and hasn’t looked back since. Nick Eggert works out of the Burner Glassworks studio in Asheville, where he crafts his intricate glass guitars. In addition to making his guitars, Nick is always cranking out production glass and headies— the dude is a machine! Check out Smoke Cartel’s collection of pipes by Glassical Creations for some pristine work.
Last month, the Smoke Cartel media team took a trip to Asheville to learn about the glass scene. We were honored to speak with Nick Eggert of Glassical Creations. Here’s the feature we put together. Continue below the video to read the whole conversation!
What initially drew you to the torch?
The ability to create different styles of art and still make a decent living doing it.
I’ve always been an art based person, I started with tattooing and seeing as the industries are somewhat similar in art styles and all that, that had a great influence on me. At the time I was tattooing I was around a lot of glassblowers and they pulled me in. I just couldn’t let it go. I was so interested and intrigued that I had to have my hands on it and be in front of that torch.
What glassblowers initially inspired your style?
I had seen Nate Dizzle do a guitar with one of his swiss percs on it and a light bulb just clicked. I was like “I can go so many different directions with this.” It’s not where I started, but I was just intrigued with the scientific tube aspect of it at first. There were multiple tube companies out there that helped me through that. Pukinbeagle was a huge one, Ron, Worm was another one. Steve Bates, Dawnk— they were all great influences on the person I have become in my glassblowing.
Bring me through the process of making a standard pipe. Where do you begin?
Tubing. Clear tubing. Put whatever you want on it, dump stuff in it, put stuff on the outside of it, roll it in stuff and then shape it into whatever you like. it’s got all the fundamentals based around it and it’s what advances me to create my guitars. I’ve made thousands of chillums, pipes, or something like that. Every day when I go into a new batch I learn something new and that progresses my skills in other parts of the glass world. There’s no dropping it at any point. I know a lot of people who are like “I’m not doing frit anymore! I’ve seen enough of that!” I see no need to stop at this point in time.
What are the challenges of working with glass that the average smoker may overlook?
It’s quite difficult. Some of the things we make look very easy. It’s more of a repetitive thing. At some point in time, those simple things were very difficult to make and a lot of people don’t understand that when it comes to making a simple chillum or spoon. It doesn’t take much to make those items, but the road to getting there was very challenging. Lot of getting cut, getting burned, such like that.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a glass blower?
I think the art factor of it. I have lightbulbs going off in my head all the time, I could create this, I could create that. Some things do work, some things don’t work. Sometimes you learn more from the things that don’t work than the things that do and it goes towards advances and future creations and such like that. I just love it.
Are there any techniques you find difficult to execute?
Working with tubing. Making it do what you want it to do and making it go where you want it to go. The lathe work on top of it is joint after joint and seal after seal after seal and if you don’t have some of those things perfect then you’re going to have major problems.
How does working within such a glassart rich environment such as Asheville influence your work?
You get to see everybody create their work first hand. You don’t just see pictures of it, you get to see it in person. You usually have the option of going to watch them do the work or collab with them and that influences me greatly.
Why should collectors buy American glass?
The quality of the glass is great. There’s some of it that doesn’t work the best but it’s all a learning process for the blower. I think the actual heart and work put into it as opposed to import glass is much greater as well. There’s a bond between a lot of us as american glass artists where we’re able to collab with each other and create much more than what I think they’re creating in the import glass community.
What advice would you give to a beginning glass blower?
Stay at the torch. Never leave that thing. If you’ve got it right five times you better get it right five more times. Don’t drop it. Try it again, even if you’re getting it right. It’s tricky work.
If you could collab with one artist who would it be?
There’s just too many good artists out there to choose from that bring many things to the table. Mickelson like he does a lot of that lathe work and I’d love to chat with him not even work with him, just to be around him. I want to know how they react to their glass breaking or not breaking, or what advice they have to give me or me to give them.
How would you define your unique style?
There’s so many different points I hit in the glass process from the lathe work to working with solid glass to working with tubing. The lathe work is where I think I’ve learned the most. There’s so many seals and those seals have to be on point, especially with all the new colors coming out and colors you want to use that have been out. Each color does it’s own thing and if you don’t have those seals right you’re gonna have problems in the future.
Does it take different levels of heat to work with those colors?
Yes, it takes different heats and kilns, letting it sit in the kiln for a certain amount of time, just heat acts different within different colors. It’s always something new, all the time, every day. A lot of smokers ask for custom colors and I don’t think they realize how hard certain colors are — if impossible, to do certain things with. Blowing a simple bubble or doing lathe work is just impossible. You want red? Well, red boils real bad, certain shades of red and such like that. Certain smokers would definitely overlook that.
You are renowned for creating insanely detailed glassart, what influenced you to create your version of “functional” glass art?
The influence comes from a lot of other glass artists and their perspective on it. Most of my guitars are collabs, and each person has had their own opinion on the lathe work I do and the attachments that go on the them, the amount of glass I put on them, whether it’s clear, whether it’s color, or anything like that. The other artists have a huge impact on this.
Do the glass bodies have any effect on the sound produced by the instruments?
The glass that’s on the wood sections can have an impact on the sound depending on how much wood to glass ratio there is. If there’s too much glass on a small body, the tone can be kind of tinny. But most of the time I leave so much wood on it that most people wouldn’t know the difference as opposed to a whole wood body guitar.
The scuba helmet piece we have in our Asheville storefront is worked with a very unique webbed aesthetic— how did you develop such technique?
Webbing, or lathe work I like to call it, comes from my guitar. Pretty much all of my guitars has that lathe work on it. I saw a lot of it on Mickelson’s work and I loved it, it took off from there. I can pretty much create any shape I want out of that webbing by creating templates. I kind of have the freedom to draw whatever I want. It’s the most fun thing as well.
You are always raising the bar. What could possibly be next!?
The sky's the limit I have so many ideas in my head I can’t keep up with them. At any give in time on top of my regular production work which I don’t stop doing, I have anywhere from five, six, seven guitars going on, doing the woodwork and the glasswork on the guitars. I don’t do the hardware on it. I’d love to, but not yet. I do all the other work on it. I build the bodies, do the necks, I do all the setups. It’s just recently that I’ve started doing all of the woodwork, but I’ve had my hands in it the whole time.
How does your tattoo style translate into glass?
Oh man, I think glasswork and tattoo work goes hand in hand. A lot of the art styles I use in the glasswork came from my tattooing abilities and the ideas I get even with the woodwork as well are all fed off of my five years of tattooing. It’s been a great influence. If I were to go back to another career it would probably be tattooing, because they’re so the same. People are the same, orders are the same, the fight for making a living and making cool stuff and weighing those options like “I want to do this cool thing, but I want to make money” seems to be all the same, in my opinion, anyways. The people I work with are the same, the people I go to to get my products, the same.
Thanks to Nick Eggert for taking the time to speak with us! Check out Smoke Cartel's Glassical Creations collection for a great selection of Nick Eggert's work.