Stevie P is a glass artist based out of New Haven. He sells some amazing pieces through local retailers and has his own workshop. Stoked interviewed Steve to find out a little more about his background, style, and what makes him tick.
Stoked: So Steve, what got you into glass work?
Stevie: About halfway through college I got into glass, but I would say going further back I had first seen glass being done at probably about eight years old. It grabbed me then. A lampworker came into school and had a bunch of his figurines and a video of his work. Then in my sophomore year, a family friend who had moved from Colorado came by for the holidays and brought his kit. That was it. I was like, ugh God, I gotta try this stuff.
Stoked: How did you learn to do what you do?
Stevie: I started teaching myself out of Homer Hoyt’s glassblowing book and used to ask a friend in Lake Tahoe some little things over the phone. It was a lot of trial and error back then. Whenever you figured something out, it was extra gratifying. I used to go to head shops to get ideas and see what everyone else was doing. You don’t want to get too influenced by other people, but it helps to see what people are buying.
Stoked: So you learned this all yourself?
Stevie: I finally took a class after five years of being self-taught. The class was with Cesare Toffolo at the Corning Museum of Glass and I learned some really solid skills from him. After another couple years of pipework on my own, I got the opportunity to work with a company in Jersey that made equipment for labs and scientific companies, like quartz test tubes. It was a 180 degree turn for me, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use new equipment and learn from guys who’ve been working in glass for 40 years. So I dropped out of the pipe world for four years.
Stoked: What was it like to come back?
Stevie: When I returned around 2009, I had a lot of catching up to do artistically. When I left it was how big the bubble was, but it was a lot more detailed when I got back. Since then I’ve been refining my type of work. Mainly, I like line work, but I also like to do a pretty clean and simple style piece, more scientific.
Stoked: That scientific glass background seems pretty unique to you. It really shows in a lot of your pieces.
Stevie: Yeah. It’s kinda weird how I went from no structured foundation to getting some really solid fundamental work. When I was taught by those guys, they said, “once you learn how to do it our way, you can do it you can do it whatever way you want, but until you learn how to do it our way, you’re gonna do it our way!” For a procedural thing, after 80, 100 years of trade, a lot of techniques have already been perfected. Unless the technology changes, you gotta do it their way.
Stoked: So it’s kinda just doing things the master’s way?
Stevie: Yeah. When you’re learning a new technique, you know that there’s more than one way to do it. But you gotta sit there and ask, what’s the best way to do it, the most quality way to do it?
Stoked: What would you say is your specialty these days?
Stevie: I still make a lot of small stuff, but it’s mainly rigs and minitubes and recyclers now. It’s happened slowly over the past five years, especially with shots from the cannabis oil sector, but it’s great to make something more refined and more detailed. Some old-timers like me like the flower pieces, and I still make them!
Stoked: Do you get inspired by what other people are making?
Stevie: I critique my own stuff more than anything. I try not to look at too much, and I go on Instagram to look at rocks and minerals more than glasswork. I do like to see what other people are doing, but it’s usually when I go to stores. Sometimes when I go online, though, I’ll see something amazing and I need to take a screenshot.
Stoked: Do you do any other glass art besides pipes and such?
Stevie: I do like making drinkware and making ornaments for Christmas. My family and friends expect new ones every year.
Stoked: Haha! I’m sure. So where would you like to go from here?
Stevie: Someday I’ll make a chandelier, but that will be when I can keep it. I can’t justify making something like that right now and maybe having no one ever buy it. I’d love to get a welder and get some metalworking going on, some freeform larger pieces that can have a frame using softer glass. It’s neat pushing the scale on largeness. Maybe get a few jigs to make all the parts exactly the same.
Stoked: You mentioned earlier that you look at pictures of rocks and minerals on Instagram and there’s a bunch of that on your own. What’s that about?
Stevie: My big hobby now is mineral collecting. Just love going out there after work at around five or six. If I find something good it’s pretty rewarding. There are a few minerals in New Haven, but there are a few other towns that have better spots for what I’m looking for. Connecticut’s really rich in minerals, but it’s not profitable to do gem mining.
Stoked: I had no idea!
Stevie: Yeah! There’s tourmaline and beryl and aquamarine – it’s still there but you gotta dig for it. They mined feldspar during World War II but they left the beryl. Once in a while you’ll see a rock without a crystal and then you smash it and bam, there’s a crystal inside. That’s really nice.
Stoked: One more question and I’ll let you get back to the oven. Is there any advice you’d give to someone just getting into the industry?
Stevie: I feel like for anyone who’s just getting involved that it must be overwhelming or overinspiring. When I started out, I saw my goals as achievable in a decent amount of time. I knew if I worked for a few years I could made some decent pipes. But now in comparison to what some of these other artists are making, it must be hard to stay grounded enough to say “I’ve got a long way to go, I can’t push myself that far yet.” I see people who haven’t been working that long trying to do some complex pieces and I just wanna say “whoa, settle down.” It’s like, “I’m gonna make that!” and I’m like “no you’re not!”
Don’t start out with the hard things, is what I’d say. That’s my number one piece of advice, start with achievable goals. People can appreciate a small piece that’s really good. You can still sell them and they make great gifts.
Stoked sells a number of Stevie P pieces here: https://stokedct.com/product-category/artists/stevie-p/
You can also check out Steve’s Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/steviepglass/