Ever since childhood, I’ve loved fire, its compelling heat and the excitement of burning energy. Now, at my Lampworking bench, I get to “play with fire,” with the 2000 degrees Molten Pyrex glass I hold in my hands, red-hot with endless possibilities. Is it any wonder that, at seventeen, I was struck with the force of instantaneous combustion when I saw my first glass blower? Ideas poured over me as he whirled molten glass into form. Ideas so full of creative heat that I apprenticed at once, and felt fully directed toward my new work.
Traditionally, Lampworking involved small pieces, figurines and wine glasses. But today’s Lampworking Renaissance encourages glassblowers like myself to innovate more and work larger and larger – up to one foot and beyond. The expansion of our color and material palette have also fostered new styles and possibilities.
Once I start a piece, the pace and demands of blowing glass force me into completion. Exertion, sweat, and attention engulf me as I burn through the abstract idea to its physical counterpart, and then move to the next one. The process consumes me, exacting full commitment, until 15 pieces later I haven’t noticed another day just melted away.
At its core, it is the extremes within the very nature of Lampworking that ignite my passion. Here I am, playing with colors full of chemicals, with burning, sharp glass ready to cut and raze me with the slightest slip of attention; yet, this volatile, combustible, and dangerous power turns into an elegant work of delicate crystal, glimmering with light, fragile and vulnerable to the slightest inattentive move. These yin and yang states of glassblowing demand nothing less of me than total attention to the responsibility and power, as well as the gentle nourishment, of creative commitment.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the age of seventeen, James discovered lampworking and found love for blown glass. He struggled to develop his craft with a few tubes of glass and a small propane bottle in his father's garage. During this summer, James worked for minimum wage in order to purchase his first torch and a few tools.
In 1998, James moved to Boulder, Colorado to work at Diablo Glass. At Diablo he was able to work with artist Steve Sizelove. "I feel Steve's teaching was instrumental in my lampworking career.” In this year, James learned advanced lampworking skills, which have served as the foundation of his art.
After his apprenticeship, James moved to West Virginia to further his knowledge. There he received mentorship from Genny Zback. “The lessons with Genny influenced the intricacy of my work.” During this time, James was a member of an artist co-op that opened a gallery in the Seneca Glass Factory. The once booming glass factory closed its doors in the eighties due to exorbitant expenses. In the nineties it was restored to a glass museum and shopping center
In 2002 James relocated back to Albuquerque, where his son was born. While in Albuquerque, James had the privilege to exhibit his work at the South Broadway Cultural Center, and placing first and third in the New Mexico State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit (Sculpture Category).
James defines his work as being detailed symmetrical designs and defined colors. "I hope to present work that can attract the eye, even at a distance and bring the mind to focus. These images speak of personal struggles, triumphs and beliefs. My passion for visual art, music, and nature has served to expand and inspire my imagination. Glass blowing has taught me many life lessons, enlightened my views, and has broadened my perspectives. My hope is that my work can have a similar effect on others.”
James is currently the advanced Flameworking teacher at the Mesa Arts Center. The new center is the premier art center in the southwest. James and his partner placed 1st in the Sonoran Art Foundation Annual Flame Off this year and thier piece brought in the largest auction value of the night.
James, his wife Christie, and their son Jaden currently reside in, Arizona. His passion and drive push him harder than ever to succeed in making an imprint in the world of glass art.