Amanda McDonald has an unusual problem for an artist: she has too many interested buyers and not enough pieces of her work. Her newly launched company,
Goose Alley Glass
, harnesses her love for glass blowing, but lacks one important component of the craft: a standalone studio.
Currently, McDonald rents space from other studios by the hour, but her first order of business is to open her own studio.
“The initial start-up cost is pretty high, which is why a lot of glass artists travel,” she says, pointing out that she’ll need a furnace, which must run 24 hours a day, in order to work.
She maintains a temporary showroom at Findlay Market, but has no regular hours because, well, it’s hard to be at an offsite studio and in a shop at the same time. Still, she arranges tours and sells commissioned pieces on request.
As a painter, McDonald was drawn to the strong, bright colors created when sunlight pours through stained glass. In fact, it’s how she got into glassblowing. “Today, stained glass is made from mass-produced, flat-sheet glass, but originally, it was blown,” she explains. “As soon as I got interested in that, I started working in a gallery attached to a glass blowing studio, and the owner started teaching me to blow glass. I fell in love with it, and 10 years later, I’m still doing it.”
Her work is a combination of personal style and function. She wants people who come to her studio to have the same experience she did: seeing the glass blowing process alongside finished pieces. The challenge, she says, is creating glassware, jewelry, servingware, lighting and interior decorating items that people will choose instead of mass-produced glass.
“For functional glass items, why wouldn’t you just get something off the shelf at Target?” she asks. “We work hard to provide unique, contemporary work that will have a style of its own.”
Working with one other artist, McDonald says her priority right now is keeping enough glass on the shelves to entice shoppers. Her dream? To create a space where “anyone will be able to walk away with a memory,” she says. She hopes to have her studio open by next spring.
By Robin Donovan