For the past 10 years, Drew Hine has dreamed about opening his own glass studio. He has spent the last three years transforming that aspiration into reality.
“Having the opportunity to run my own studio has always been a goal of mine,” said Hine. “As a student at CCS, I had full access to the studio 24 hours a day. It was fun and exciting to be able to blow glass whenever I wanted.
“It’s taken me three years to renovate the studio and purchase equipment, but I’m proud of this accomplishment. Years of selling glass taught me that it made better sense to open my own studio as opposed to continuing to rent space from someone else.”
Vessel Studio, founded by Hine after three years of teaching and managing the studio at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, is one of the largest fully equipped private studios in Pittsburgh. The studio houses one furnace, three glory holes, seven annealing ovens and a metal fabrication area.
“The studio actually comprises 2,000 square feet of the lower level of a home built by a plumber 110 years ago,” explained Hine. “The upper level has two apartments - one for me and my wife and one for the studio assistant.
“In recent years there has been an influx of artists coming to Pittsburgh to take advantage of the affordable cost of living and seeking ways of opening their own studios. It’s been good for my business to only have to pay one mortgage. This lets me concentrate more of my efforts on projects instead of worrying as much about paying the bills.
In addition to smaller pieces, Hine creates large-scale sculpture at Vessel. In late 2007, he completed work on a permanent installation in the Sprint Center, a new sports arena in Kansas City, Mo. The sculpture consists of 275 hand blown plates arranged around a stainless steel double helix-shaped armature surrounding a giant pillar. Measuring over 40 feet wide by 60 feet tall, the project has been dubbed by some as the largest glass sculpture in the world.
“This project actually caught the attention of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition producers. They toured the city to see some of the area’s aesthetic influences and were interested in our sculpture. As part of the upcoming Kansas City show, a chandelier we designed based on the larger Sprint Center piece will be used in a residential home makeover. We hope to start a product line of these custom blown chandeliers.”
Before relocating to Pittsburgh, Hine studied glass as part of the Crafts program at CCS. He developed his skills by spending long hours in the College’s studio. Taking advantage of the campus’ resources and talent around him, he learned how to create opportunities for himself in a competitive field.
“CCS was a great place to really hone my skills and develop as an artist. I felt that I was more prepared than other artists graduating from four year universities. I was fortunate to have talented upper classmen mentor me through the program."
I still come back to the Detroit area to visit fellow alums, Israel Nordin and Andrew Madvin. They inspired me to become the artist I am today—always pushing to be better.