I caught up with Ginni DeLong for a brief chat on the second day of the Humboldt Harvest Glass Gathering. She and her husband Jared own the Lost Coast Gallery in Trinidad and they produce the annual event, which is held on-site at the gallery. This is their second year throwing this party, glass show and charity fundraiser.
How did the Glass Gathering come about?
My husband Jared is a glass artist and we’ve been seeing these functional glass galleries starting to pop up around the United States. Jared was part of traditional glass galleries when he started blowing glass 20 years ago, but a lot of these traditional galleries shut down with the downturn in the economy.
So now this functional glass movement is rising up along with all of the changes in cannabis, and my husband started shifting into making more functional glass. Now the galleries that used to show traditional glass art are showing functional glass.
We created this Harvest Glass Gathering event because we wanted to highlight Humboldt. We have some of the top functional glass artists in the world in Humboldt County.
What do you mean by “functional glass?”
Functional glass means a smoking apparatus — a tube, a rig, a sherlock — to smoke either flower or oil.
Can you tell me a bit more about your husband, Jared DeLong?:
He’s been blowing glass for 20 years. He started out in Santa Cruz doing traditional paper weights and vessels, and he’s had teachers in Japan and Italy. Jared is also known for a lot of cold work, which means cutting the glass, faceting the glass, carving the glass. But he does both hot and cold work.
What are the different components of the Humboldt Harvest Glass Gathering?:
This was a two-day event. Friday was our VIP night, a celebration with the artists, so buyers can come in and spend time with the artists. They can talk about the glass and smoke out of the glass with the artists. Friday night featured a beautiful catered dinner with KMUD Community Radio serving drinks. There was music, fire dancing and of course the gallery was open and there was some 215 sampling.
The event was open to the public from 11-5pm for $10 at the door, with the gallery open and glass blowing demos. The demos were really fascinating to see, especially because some of these artists who don’t demo in public chose to demo at this event, which is awesome.
A big focus of our event is giving back. Pieces the artists made on Saturday were sold and the money will be given to a gentleman who lost his home in the Butte Fire. We also had a huge charity raffle of glass pieces donated by artists, and gift certificates from local businesses. The money raised through this raffle goes to Food for People and the Humboldt Community Breast Health Project.
Both Friday and Saturday featured a large number of vendors. Taco Factory served up food. We had oysters. And there were several bands, the Rocketeers and the Jim Lawman Band. We also had a 215 lounge.
Where do the buyers come from?:
All over. We had buyers from Maryland and Florida, Georgia, from all over California, Washington State and we had some Canadians. And of course, a lot of locals too.
What do you think about this movement to collect functional art glass?:
It’s wildly fascinating. I can’t even wrap my mind around it, these collectors. They’re awesome and wonderful, but they are intense about this particular sub-culture. It’s a different world.
Functional glass art used to have to be kept secret — artists had to be underground with glass blowing aliases so that they wouldn’t get caught. But these people have families that they provide for with this art, they put their kids through college with this money. They’re just artists. Now that the functional glass scene is becoming more open and cannabis laws are changing, there’s a celebration of that with the collectors.
Where do the artists in the show come from?:
Most of them are local, and last year we featured only local artists. But this year we wanted to change it up, so there were artists from Canada, Maryland, Maine and from all over California too. Like, we had Ro Purser from the Seattle area; he’s like the grandfather of making marbles.
But we have the big names in Humboldt — Banjo, Bluegrass Man, Mr. Gray. We have Bryan Raskin from Mirador Glass, he’s a wonderful man and a wonderful artist. We also have George Bucquet of Mad River Glass and Brad Smith of the Humboldt Glass Studio.
What inspires you about the functional art glass movement?:
Watching someone make a piece on the torch is so beautiful and hypnotic. It takes extreme talent and focus for the artist. They can work on a piece for days and it can crack. But they just keep going. It’s the process of watching them create a piece that is absolutely stunning. That’s what motivates me.
You can find the Lost Coast Gallery at facebook.com/LostCoastGallery or on Instagram @lostcoastgallery. You can also find the Humboldt Harvest Glass Gathering at facebook.com/humboldtharvestglassgathering.