Glass Blowing on the Delta
Freddie Blache of Muffinjaw Designs is a 25 year old musician who found his passion in 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 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 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.” He joked about the cold damp temperature as a crowd gathered for a demonstration.
Freddie began taking classes in 2013 and knew he had found his life’s calling. “It’s my passion and I believe I will be doing this for the rest of my life.” He began showing his creations at a downtown Mobile Artwalk in 2014 and began 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 a number of repeat customers for his pieces and began signing his handmade creations.
“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.
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 and 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.
Among Freddie’s glass artist influences are Lino Tagliapietra, a Venetian artist who is 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 renowned 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.
Freddie at work