The Universe Marble journey began for me in 2000. I had moved from Philadelphia to New Mexico and it was under the naked mountain skies that I discovered a secret universe waiting to be explored hidden deep inside a glass sphere. Although glass, and for that matter, space themes were not new to me, the language that I set out to create was on a new level of expectation. I began a series of experiments to find the methods of producing the most hyper real intergalactic environments, and in 2002, my design won the marble category in the first ever 'flame-off' held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Since the first Universe Marble, I have been on a constant quest to go deeper into a new language in glass. The planets and celestial objects that I create are not literal but rather informed by science fiction with an openness to the limitless possibilities for color and texture of planets beyond our current viewing capabilities.
It has been amazing to see the growth of the glass flameworking community and to know that I had a part in perhaps the greatest explosion of American glass artists ever is humbling to say the least.
Universe Marbles are privately collected worldwide and are in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass, Wheaton Museum and the Kobe Flameworking Museum.
I like to spend my downtime in a space of different sorts, experimenting with electronic music and occasionally making tracks. The tracks are mainly used as backing tracks for videos but having access to both retro gear and modern computer equipment has made a once distant interest much more tangible. You can hear a few tracks on my SoundCloud page.
I've had a lifelong love for the arts. Born and raised in Philadelphia, I spent my early creative years exploring graffiti and photography. I graduated from Columbia University in NYC with a degree in Architecture. Shortly after college, I started to experiment with glass when my friend, Adam Kamens took me on weekend excursions to Sam Bloom's studio. Over the next few years, I immersed myself into the world of furnace blown glass and in 1995, I helped Adam build Hot Soup, Philadelphia's first public glassblowing facility. My weekend hobby became a career as the first Artistic Director. After several years of furnace glass blowing, I made the decision to transition to flameworking and ran a small underground flameworking studio in South Philly before heading west for a much needed change of scenery.
Over the next few years, I started spending more time with artist and wife, Jillian Molettiere, aka grippingTEA. We have lived and worked together for the past 13 years and currently have a small private studio, Ample Space, tucked away just outside of downtown Los Angeles.
Universe Marbles are made using a glassblowing process called flameworking. A large propane gas and oxygen rich flame is created with a bench mounted torch. Think rocket engine clamped to a table. Optically clear scientific glass rods are heated in the flame and shaped in graphite molds. The nebulae in my marbles are created with atomized 24k gold and fine silver. Planets and other objects are created with colored glass and Gilson opals. At times, I will use moldavite and other minerals that are compatible with glass. Once the marble is completed, it is cooled very slowly in an annealing oven. This cooling off can take as long as three days for the larger marbles.
This video shows the making of the Purple Phase Universe, a project I did with Direct Sound Headphones for NAMM, 2015.
Thanks a million for taking the time to visit my site. To see more examples of my work, stay up to date, or just say hi, please follow me on social media. I cannot express the gratitude that I have for collectors and fans of my work. Without you, there would not be Universe Marbles.