Hello Martin, what can we expect at this glassblowing show?
We have succeeded in acquiring three very interesting and well-known glassblowers who all have special skills. These are Daisuke Saito and Yoshinori Kondo from Japan and Eusheen Goines from the USA. They have been active for many years and already have a lot to show.
Most of these glass artists come from overseas, aren't there any creative glassblowers in Europe?
Of course we also have creative glassblowers. But at our company, glassblowing is a profession requiring training and is called glass apparatus engineering. These are completely different conditions than in the USA, where there is no such training system.
With us everything is very technical and highly precise, as the glass products are primarily used in the chemical industry. These are high-tech products where there is little room for creativity. In the USA it is completely different. People there learn from books, by watching and, of course, nowadays via the Internet. They have a completely different approach, much freer and more casual than we do. But they are also less technically sophisticated. They were very impressed when they saw for the first time how to make plug connections with the help of a precise glass cut.
How were the connections between two glass parts made there?
With a piece of silicone tubing, which is not optimal because the tubing can become dirty, porous and leaky. Meanwhile, however, also there are used grindings, imported from Germany...
In the States, such glassblowers are real stars and get tens of thousands of dollars for an object. What's different there than in our country?
In the USA, a cannabis scene has existed for several decades in which glass pipes play a special role. In the USA, pure smoking is used, and for this purpose appropriate pure pipes are often used. There is a pipe culture there that differs significantly from that in Europe. We primarily use glass pipes, which can be seen to have been adapted from glass apparatus construction. They work and are perfectly manufactured, the customer knows what to expect. But the variety is limited, because most bongs are more or less similar. In the States it is different. The glass artists often work alone and have at most one assistant. Each of their pipes is unique and no two are alike. Soon I will be at a glassblowing show in Las Vegas, where 25 glass artists compete against each other to create the most beautiful objects. The winner gets 25.000 dollars prize money.
This shows that the dimensions in the USA are quite different.
Could this be related to the fact that there is a legal cannabis industry in states like California and Colorado?
Of course, that plays a role. But the pipe culture is much older and goes back to the hippies in the 1960s. And if you have ever driven through California, you can understand why a song like "Hotel California" by the Eagles could not have been written in the Black Forest. There is a special feeling for life there, which is also reflected in the creative glassblowing scene.
How did you manage to attract famous glassblowers to Vienna for the third time?
Well, I have been doing business in the USA for a few years now and have been able to make a certain name for myself there. The product name "ROOR" stands for quality there as well, which opened some doors for me. The most important thing is the personal contact, and that I spend a lot of time with the artists and get involved with them. Only then friendships can develop, which make such a cooperation possible in the first place. Yoshii, for example, is a much sought-after glass artist. He has already performed at numerous shows and has won countless prizes. He currently has over 300 advance orders to process, for which he plans to work for two years. Customers have ordered without knowing what they will get in the end. He actually wouldn't have time, but the prospect of a cool weekend in Vienna - where none of the three glass artists has been before - could convince him...
Then you will take care of these three during the Cultiva?
Of course, I'll make sure they have a good time. Only then can you put on a good show and show your true colors.
At this point I would like to mention that this glass show is only possible because we cooperate with the Austrian glassblower Stefan Kollar from Vienna, who provides the kiln, participates in the process and also blows glass himself. The high-quality gas burners are provided by the Arnold company.
So an international cooperation...
Exactly, a cooperation where everyone brings in his or her possibilities and abilities and in the end everyone benefits from it.
What happens with the glass objects that are created at the trade fair?
That remains to be seen. If the price is right, maybe you can take these home...
Is there already a market for such high-priced works of art in Europe?
In comparison to the USA the market here is almost non-existent, but there are also in Europe the first collectors who recognize the value of such pipes and are willing to pay. And such events are intended to arouse interest and promote understanding for the filigree work behind them.
Sounds exciting anyway and we won't miss it...!
The glassblower show takes place daily from 11:00 to 18:00 on the Cultiva.
Glass blowing at world champion level (excerpt from the magazine "THCene!")
The renowned brand ROOR will present a superlative glassblowing show at Cultiva 2017 and will have three representatives from the top 10 of the world's best experts in this craft flown to Vienna. From October 6th to 8th, the event pyramid in Vösendorf will not only host numerous international exhibitors of hemp plants, but also offer the opportunity to watch how glass is melted and processed into fantastic glass works of art by international stars. We talked to Martin Birzle from ROOR about this special live show at the upcoming Cultiva.
Who exactly are the glassblowers ROOR will present at the Cultiva 2017? Please tell us something about each of the artists.
Okay, let's start with Eusheen Goines - this US-American artist has developed his very own style in recent years and is one of the ten best glass artists in America. I've worked with him three times in the last five or six years and got to know him quite well. The results of our collaboration - i.e. the jointly produced unique pieces - were always sold quickly and are now all available from various international collectors. This is also the case with the Japanese glass artists Yoshinori Kondo and Daisuke Saito, who incidentally know Eusheen well, since the three of them have often cooperated and created special works of glass art together. In this respect I am also very happy that the calendar of these three top people has allowed me to bring them to the Cultiva in Vienna this year. Regarding Yoshi and Daisuke, it must be said that Japan has developed its own technique and way of working with glass, which is very different from that in Europe or the USA. In Japan, painting is not done in the classical way, but the picture is composed by many tiny dots of colour, very similar to a dot matrix printer. This technique opens up new creative possibilities and Yoshi, like Daisuke, is a real master in this technique. It is rare to see him work in such a relaxed manner as he did on the Cultiva this year. Yoshi may be the much better known and more experienced glass artist, but newcomer Daisuke has also been doing well since 2015 and is now considered one of the world's best in his field. Together they also operate as "Team Japan" and as such have won various international awards for their jointly designed individual pieces - for example, five years ago in Toronto. There they also worked together for three days on a unique piece and exhibited it afterwards - then people could choose which piece they liked best and so Yoshi and Daisuke won first place here.
Is Japan a real hot spot for glass artists?
No, something like this actually only happens in the deepest underground here, as cannabis is strictly forbidden in Japan - here one gram of grass costs around 100 Euros on the black market. The government there is unfortunately quite restrictive and so even glass artists have to keep a low profile, which is why the Japanese glassblowing scene is very manageable. Nevertheless, everyone here has good connections to the USA, where the items are usually sold. In Japan there are maybe five or six real experts and two of them are coming to the Cultiva in Vienna.
Do you actually have a favourite among the three yourself?
Hm, that's really difficult - but I'll say Eusheen now, because with him it's his incomparable way of working that makes my heart beat faster. His nickname is "the living lathe" because he can turn glass so incredibly smoothly - and that's the key to everything. You can only get exact patterns if you turn it really smoothly. And Eusheen has perfected this, so his style cannot be copied and with a trained eye you can recognize his work immediately.
When and where exactly will you be able to experience the three artists live on the Cultiva?
On all three days - Friday, Saturday and also Sunday - you will be able to experience them live on the Cultiva in their extraordinary work. And not only that, if you don't disturb them during this work, you can of course ask them all kinds of questions and talk to them - in the end they are normal and super friendly people. Nobody really needs to be afraid of anything - you should just take advantage of this unique opportunity.
So Yoshi and Daisuke speak good English, too? English isn't very common in Japan...
That's true, but her English is good enough for a few questions. After all, most of her works are sold in the USA and, as I said, Japanese glass artists practically all have close ties to the USA. Because that's where the financially strong collectors sit, some of whom have invested several million in glass art works.
Will it be possible to buy the glass works of art publicly produced on the Cultiva on site? And if so, how much money do you have to pocket?
When three international luminaries like Eusheen, Yoshi and Daisuke create a piece together, you have to bring along 20,000 and more euros. If, on the other hand, each of them produces their own piece, then they will of course be available at a slightly lower price - because then there will be three unique pieces and not just one common one. But the sale of these pieces is not part of the demonstration, i.e. the sale will probably be done later via the internet and I guess the pieces will go to collectors in the USA as so often. But in the end the production process is also the special thing, after all you can watch the three of them working very closely for several days. Others pay a lot of money for this and go to appropriate courses to learn from these experts. Now this is much cheaper on the Cultiva.
Are the works of such top-class artists actually rather unused and well-protected collector's items that gain in value over time or rather objects of daily use through which smoke is sometimes drawn?
I think it's a mixture of the two - some collectors would never think of actually using such a device for smoking, others use the pieces on special occasions or with special friends. The works of certain glass artists could also be defined as an investment - in my opinion, Yoshi and Eusheen are among them. For me, however, such a high-carat piece is more comparable to an oldtimer, which is usually parked in the garage, but is driven from time to time. Of course not every day on the way to work, but maybe on special occasions with especially good friends.
How do you actually assess the German and European glassblower scene compared to the international one?
There is still a lot in its infancy with us - especially when it comes to working with colours. We have also learned a lot from foreign artists in the last few years. If you do an apprenticeship as a glassblower in Germany, then you will be a laboratory glassblower afterwards - and all the knowledge you acquire here relates only to laboratory glass. Artistic work with colours, on the other hand, cannot be learned in Germany as part of vocational training. You need a good deal of personal initiative - and then you don't have so much to do with the German glassblower scene anymore, since it works primarily for chemical giants like BASF and doesn't want to have anything to do with the production of smoking appliances. Not for anything in the world do these people want to be associated with the "freaks" who make "hash pipes". In Austria it's a bit different - there I have, for example, together with Bernd Weinmayer, a glassblower association, I have made unique pieces such as the Ray Gun, the Ray Machine or the Drill Bill and won the HighTimes Cups with them. In the last few years Bernd has developed a beer dispenser from laboratory glass that is far superior to all conventional dispensers in terms of hygiene and appearance, as glass can be disinfected easily and without residue. How beautiful such a system looks in operation can be seen as a world premiere on the Cultiva - very close to the spot where we blow glass there is a hemp beer bar with this unique dispensing system. This is another good reason why you should definitely visit the Cultiva this year.
Well, you and ROOR have already presented live glassblowing shows at the Cultiva in the past - will you be able to top the show this year?
I think the question is rather whether you always have to top it - of course our glassblower show this year is a very special highlight of the Cultiva, which is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. But even here I see the potential to top this show sometime in the future - because there are many other very good people worldwide and after the glassblower show has established itself so successfully on the Cultiva in the last three years, we will continue it in the future. Nevertheless, every show can only be seen once a year. Who misses this opportunity is really unlucky - because such an opportunity comes only once in a lifetime. Come and check it out!