The History of Chicago Hot Glass
By Daniel Staples.
Chicago Hot Glass started in the summer of 1999.
In '97 I had just finished taking all the glassblowing classes I could find and was working in the closest studio I could find to work in, in Mundelin Il. (Hey Peter!).
After a year of that commute 2 - 3 days a week I was pretty much done and somehow managed to stumble across Kevin Ward. Kevin had a tiny little hole in the wall studio in an industrial building actually in the city! AND he was willing to rent me bench time! This worked out pretty well for a while but then gas prices spiked hard and Kevin had to shut down.
At this point I was pretty bummed out, but now I knew a bunch of other glassblowers (who also had nowhere to work). I came up with the idea of opening a public access studio and school to fill the obvious need and build the real dynamic glassblowing community the city of Chicago deserves.
After talking to literally every glassblower within 200 miles of the city, either directly or through friends and being told that "I was crazy if I thought I could pull this off" and "that I had no idea what I was getting myself into" I decided that the best thing to do was to put together a group of people that had the skills and knowledge to make the idea a reality.
We started out with four major business partners, Myself (Daniel Staples), Kevin Ward, Brad Braun and Steve Webber and also Liz Fink, not a partner but an integral member of the studio. We also gained a late additional business partner, Jamie Stevens.
We pooled our knowledge, money and resources and formed Chicago Hot Glass Inc. We scoured the city for nearly a year for just the right place to put our new studio and never found it.
We did however find 1250 N Central Park, an industrial zoned space that was big enough and cheap enough and had enough gas and electric service but is in west Humboldt park, way off the beaten track for the arts or galleries and at the time not the greatest of neighborhoods
It was the spring of 2001 and we with the help of Liz Fink, Rebeccah Byer, Curtis Kim and others who's names escape me at the moment built, and toiled and spent and built and got inspected and fixed and rebuilt and reinspected for months until all was right and we FINALLY lit up the furnace.
It was a party that day!
So anyway, that was the beginning of Chicago Hot Glass.
An idea that couldn't be done, executed by people who knew that with enough dedication and hard work that ANYTHING can be done, and done right.