Ronnie Hughes was hooked in only two weeks and once you see his glass artistry, you’ll see why! The Rickie Report implores you to not only see his work at the upcoming Palm Beach Fine Craft Show, but to take the time and really study each piece. See how he brings such perfection to glass flowers. Read this article for details about the show and how Ronnie became a world-renown Master Glass Sculptor.
Palm Beach Fine Craft Show
Friday March 1st 10 – 6
Saturday March 2nd 10 -6
Sunday March 3rd 11- 5
Palm Beach County Convention Center
650 Okeechobee Blvd
West Palm Beach
The Palm Beach Fine Crafts Show is professionally juried to ensure the highest level of excellence and originality in the work presented. Every piece is designed and made in artists’ studios across the U.S.
The Rickie Report staff appreciates a wide variety of art forms and mediums. When we saw Ronnie Hughes’ glass work at the 2012 Palm Beach Fine Craft Show, we were stunned. The beauty of his work and its realism were truly something to behold. We watched, mesmerized, at his video which showed some of the multiple steps in creating these fragile masterpieces. We walked through and enjoyed the rest of the show and then came back to his booth to speak with him.
Ronnie tells us, “I was born in 1954 and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I learned glassblowing with the help of a friend after graduating from Wake Forest University in 1976. Soon after graduation, I learned the basics of flameworking from Al Lipkin and Michael Kennedy, two scientific glassblowers who showed me the infinite possibilities of working with borosilicate glass and a torch…only two weeks working with glass, I was hooked.”
“Since I had received no formal art training while getting my Bachelor’s Degree, my aptitude for glassblowing was a huge and pleasant surprise. I originally created small works, and eventually worked with J.R.R. Tolkein “Lord of the Rings” characters and other fantasy themes. The Tolkein flights of fantasy started my love of detail and I enjoyed creating them so much, that I decided to make glassblowing my career. I have spent the past 36 years creating my artwork for galleries, art shows and private collections.”
In 1980, after walking upon a field full of hundreds of breathtaking Pink Lady Slippers on the Blue Ridge Parkway, he was inspired to change his subject matter completely. He explains, ” I began creating native wildflowers and I haven’t stopped since. I had discovered what I felt was a most satisfying blend of subject matter with medium. The Trademark qualities of my work have been the accuracy of the flower structures combined with a distinctive organic style with the use of free-formed glass bases I developed about 25+ years ago. My sculptures have much more appeal to me as an artist with their own solid and continuous glass bases, though a more risky and time-consuming process. I am able to capture the essence of the flower with more movement as it springs from these bases.”
TRR: Tell our readers more about your work:
RH: Borosilicate glass is my medium. Using propane and oxygen-fed torches, I heat the glass to a molten state (2000-2500 degrees Fahrenheit). At these temperatures, the glass becomes pliable enough to shape into delicate looking wildflowers. My goal is to create original, delicate works of art while maintaining durability at the same time – a balancing act which requires diligence and careful craftsmanship.
I work by myself, employing traditional flameworking techniques to create my sculptures. There are no molds, specialized tools, glue or paints used. After completion, each piece is annealed at 1040 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln then cooled gradually back to room temperature. This process removes all thermal stress from the piece, making the glass as strong as it was originally. All pieces are then examined under a polariscope which ensures that the sculpture has been properly annealed before presenting it to the public. My glass can be repaired by flame, which is not possible with soft glass. This means my sculptures can retain their value after the repair.
TRR: The Rickie Report understands that being an artist means spending many working hours alone, especially as you described. How do you relieve some of that pressure and network with other artists?
RH: I am proud and honored to be affiliated with The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Clyde Butcher Gallery, The Galleries – Concord, NC, The Glass Art Society, The American Craft Council, The Southern Highlands Guild, Ohio Designer Craftsmen, Handmade in America, Piedmont Craftsmen, Carolina Designer Craftsmen, Lexington Art League, and North Carolina Mountain Arts Alliance.
I am grateful for the opportunity to create three “exemplary teacher awards” annually via the Rhododendron Society at Appalachian State University. We are enriched also when participating with such exceptionally talented artists in the juried art shows around the country– to see beauty as well as art in its many unbelievable and various forms.
In March of 2005, Hughes was a featured artist in Sunshine Artist Magazine, where one of his wildflower sculptures graced the cover. In October 2006, his two orchid sculptures took a clean sweep of First Place Awards at the 59th National Capital Orchid Society Juried Art Show in Washington, DC: First Place in Glass, First Place in his Art Division and Eva Campbell Memorial Award for the Best Art in the Show. In 2010 and his works were included in Bandhu Dunham’s: Contemporary Lampworking Volume III released April 2010.
Throughout his decades of professional work, Hughes has exhibited widely both in juried Fine Art Shows, where he has won numerous awards, and in Art Galleries which include The Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, PA The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, the Riley Gallery in Cleveland, OH, just to name a few. Hughes’ sculptures of wildflowers are avidly coveted by collectors, not only in the United States, but also internationally. His work is represented in countless private collections in the US and abroad, as well as in corporate collections and in the collections of royalty, heads of state, and diplomats.
“I hope to show movement in each of my works”, Hughes says. “Although I often use colored glass as a focal point to highlight certain aspects of my work, clear glass is the prominent part of my sculptures for two reasons. I believe that the purity of clear glass lends a mystical quality to the flowers, emphasizing the delicacy and fragility of our natural world. The transparent optical qualities of clear glass also challenge the observer to look more closely and to use his/her imagination to complete my creative vision”. Please visit: www.hughesglass.net
For more information about the Palm Beach Fine Craft Show: email@example.com General admission: $15.00. Senior Citizens $14.00 Please inquire about special group rate.
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Rickie Leiter, Publisher
The Rickie Report
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420