By Chris D’Olimpio
Michael Davis, a stained glass artist and glass blower who operates out of a studio in Long Island City, offers a simple piece of advice to those who have taken glass blowing and working with stained glass as a hobby: This is a tough business with plenty of competition.
“New York is a treasure trove of beautiful glass,” he said, noting that he finds himself seeing beautiful pieces of glass being made and sold “everywhere.”
“Think long and hard,” he cautioned, laughing when he gave advice to those wanting to go into this line of work professionally.
Davis had been at a gift show at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan and said it was a wake-up call for him.
“The market is saturated,” Davis said. “It makes this line of work very challenging.” He said he has to keep an eye on the market, learn from it and sell what he can.
Before he took the leap to work as a professional glass artist, Davis was as a modern dancer, which is what brought him to New York City back in the late-1970s. His parents had met in Brooklyn, but moved to St. Louis, where Davis was born and raised.
Wanting to be an art major, Davis attended Beloit College in Wisconsin. Later, he lived in San Francisco, and while dancing he started his then-hobby, glass blowing and stained glass work.
After moving to New York, Davis got his first break selling pieces at Barney’s in Manhattan. His work there caught the eye of representatives from Tiffany’s, and he has been working steadily since.
Davis started working with stained glass 24 years ago, and after eight years he got into glass blowing. Some of the works he has made from glass blowing are plates, vases, and glasses, which are crafted from pieces of stained glass. To make these pieces, he performs a process called, pastoreling.
The process involves laying a piece of stained glass on top of a ceramic plate or tile. He then places that piece into an oven close to 2100 degrees. When the glass is taken out, at which point it is in a liquid form, he rolls it, detailing the piece while it is being hardened by a flame.
In addition to creating his own original works, Davis repairs and restores many pieces of stained glass and makes replicas of them as well. He has made replicas for the Edison, N.J., courthouse light fixtures, and has restored stained glass pieces for various locations throughout Queens.
Davis has also made beautiful stained glass windows from sketch designs, may of which can be found in homes all over the country, on the Upper West Side, in parts of New England and in San Francisco.
To find out more about Davis and his work call him at 718-383-2171. Many of his existing pieces and past projects can be seen at Davis’s Web site, www.michaeldavisstainedglass.org.