Glass Blowing in the Delta

Muffinjaw Designs

Freddie Blache of Muffinjaw Designs is a 25-year-old musician who found his passion for blowing glass.  Blache will graduate from the University of South Alabama with his Fine Arts Degree in December.  “It’s about performance,” he said as we chatted during the Halloween Bash at Cypress Gift Shop at 5 Rivers Delta on a cold October morning.

Freddie Blache

Freddie had been up early.”I don’t sleep a lot before a show.”  For this October outing, he was set up on the porch of the Cypress gift shop at 5 Rivers. With the temperature in the fifties, his small propane fueled furnace nicknamed “Smog” was taking a little more time to get up to its glass melting temperature of twenty-one hundred degrees. “I’m used to working in a shop where it’s a hundred degrees.” As a crowd gathered for a demonstration, he joked about the cold, damp temperature.

Blowing the glass
Shaping the glass

Freddie began taking classes in 2013 and knew he had found his life’s calling.  “It’s my passion; I will do this for the rest of my life.” He began showing his creations at a downtown Mobile Artwalk in 2014 and began the public demonstration of glass blowing at South Sounds in 2014.  He was a hit and he continues his demonstrations at each show.  By 2016, he had many repeat customers for his pieces and began signing his handmade creations.

Glass bubble
Shaping the glass with wet newspaper

“Muffinjaw” was a term a coined by a classmate of Freddie’s dad, Fred, Sr. when he had swollen cheeks in school due to a tooth infection. Freddie Jr. said, “It’s what we call our cheeks when we puff them out to blow bubbles in the glass.” Muffinjaw Designs is a family affair. Freddie admits he could not make this journey without the support of his wife, Caroline, and baby, Eva, as well as his family and friends. They were there supporting him on this cold, damp morning.

Freddie and Caroline

His Dad, Fred Sr., explained that when Freddie told him he wanted to change his major to glass blowing Senior encouraged him to have a back-up plan, because an artist’s life is never a sure thing.  Freddie took the advice in stride and will give himself a year to make a go of it as a glass artist.  “We are living in the age of glass, it’s all around us and we don’t see it.”

Currently, his handmade pieces sell for between $10 and $40 for the smaller pieces.  Some of the large pieces are a bit higher priced. They are sold locally at the following locations: Cypress Gift Shop at 5 Rivers, Ashland Gallery in Midtown, Red Beard’s Outfitters, The Happy Octopus on Dauphin Island and at Haint Blue Brewing in Mobile.

Glass ornaments

Among Freddie’s glass artist influences are Lino Tagliapietra, a Venetian artist known for his flare with sculpting molten glass, and William Gudenrath. Freddie wants to work on Tagliapietra’s technique in the future.  He also hopes to work with William Gudenrath at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.

Freddie Blache, a self-proclaimed “Nerd for Glass” is an up and coming Mobile artist. He is setting the local art scene on fire with one molten glass creation at a time.

Update: Freddie’s thesis exhibit December 4-8, 2017 at the University of South Alabama Visual Arts Gallery.

UPDATE:  Muffinjaw now has a studio in downtown Mobile  https://www.muffinjawdesigns.com/

At Dauphin Island Art Trail

Freddie at work

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