The Independent Artist Podcast

Paying Your Dues/ Christopher Jeffries

February 19, 2024 Douglas Sigwarth/ Will Armstrong/ Christopher Jeffries Season 4 Episode 3
The Independent Artist Podcast
Paying Your Dues/ Christopher Jeffries
Show Notes Transcript

Working Artists! You are not alone! Listen to these entertaining and inspirational podcast conversations with working artists.

When Christopher Jefferies caught the glassblowing bug in high school, he charted a course that would ultimately result in building his own glass shop by "paying his dues." From working on Dale Chihuly's team to sleeping on the floor of a Czech hot shop, Christopher immersed himself in the fast-paced environment of production glass studios that created hundreds of pieces daily. Once he launched his own studio, his work evolved into multiple-element wall installations on a large scale. Christopher talks about going after those "big fish" on the art festival scene and how he navigates his unique career.

https://jeffriesglass.com/

#blownglassart  #residentialwallart #lagunabeachglassartist #modernwallart #customglassartdecor #art  #corporateart  #homedecor #chihuly #glassinstallation #wallglass #studioglassmovement #glassartist #interiorstylehunter #designerwallart #homestaging #crystalglass #sculpture #artistinspiration #independentartist #independentartistpodcast #indieartspod #artistpath #artistpodcast #artistconversations #artistprocess #workingartist  #contemporarycraft  #artisticvision #youtubepodcast

Visual artists Douglas Sigwarth https://www.sigwarthglass.com/ and Will Armstrong http://www.willarmstrongart.com/ co-host and discuss topics affecting working artists. Each episode is a deep dive into a conversation with a guest artist who shares their unique experiences as an independent professional artist. In today's preamble, we discuss going to Miami, being an ADHD artist, and making money off your art that is meant to help a cause.

The link to the article about corporate filing
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/corporate-transparency-act-impacts-self-employed-artists-2417585

File your Beneficial Ownership Information here
https://www.fincen.gov/boi

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Music  "Walking" by Oliver Lear
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Douglas Sigwarth: [00:00:00] Welcome to the independent artist podcast sponsored by the national association of independent artists 

Will Armstrong: also sponsored by zapplication I'm will armstrong and i'm a mixed media artist. 

Douglas Sigwarth: I'm douglas sigworth glassblower Join our conversations with professional working 

Will Armstrong: artists Let's jump right in here.

Will Armstrong: Welcome back to the show everyone. I have not had Quite such a response from, uh, almost any show as, as we did with, uh, Matthew Nafzger, it seems like a, like a friend to most everybody. So yeah, that was a welcome addition to the show. Sure was 

Douglas Sigwarth: great reaction. Great responses for sure. How are you doing? The listening audience will be happy to know that I showered for this recording of the 

Will Armstrong: podcast.

Will Armstrong: This is not Aldous Huxley. We do not have some elevation just yet. So no one was particularly bothered except for [00:01:00] maybe Renee 

Douglas Sigwarth: and myself. There's something funky down on the lower left. side of my body. That leg is starting to reek. I can't wait to get this cast off in a couple days. 

Will Armstrong: All right. Couple days.

Will Armstrong: That's what we're looking at. Is that, uh, you go cast right to boot and back to work? Is that, um, is that how it's going to work? 

Douglas Sigwarth: I'm not falling for that trick again. I did that last time. I thought I got in the boot and I could just start making work again. The real work, the hard stuff, the physically hard stuff is about to happen once I get in the boot.

Douglas Sigwarth: Because once I put my foot down, it's a long period of rehab. So we're gonna give myself time and just see what I'm actually dealing with before we make too many plans to hop back in The studio right away. 

Will Armstrong: Yeah, you posted a picture of your foot and all the screws and everything pulling together And I think I said if I fixed the deck that way then my wife would quietly call the contractor 

Douglas Sigwarth: It's like yeah that this screw Goes here, right?

Douglas Sigwarth: Kind of up at a 45 degree angle. And maybe I'll put this one in this way. And I mean, when you 

Will Armstrong: see that stuff, you realize like exactly how kind of [00:02:00] medieval doctors can be at times. And it's like, well, that just looks like a deck screw, you know, just looks like a four inch deck screw. I, you know, I 

Douglas Sigwarth: started before this next procedure, the one I just am currently dealing with.

Douglas Sigwarth: I started asking questions like what a normal foot is and what this looks like and that and he looked at me He goes there is no such thing as normal We're just trying to put a couple of things in a certain place and see what happens So that does not give you too much confidence when you know, it's like, okay But this is what I'm gonna do and you just kind of work with it, you know Yeah 

Will Armstrong: What's what I find interesting about this this whole procedure is the fact that you and I don't actually have to record We can just replay what we talked about last year.

Will Armstrong: Just, it's just a rehash. This 

Douglas Sigwarth: is actually just some of the cutting room floor clips from last time, and we're just re airing 

Will Armstrong: it everyone. Douglas ran me through AI, and uh, man, I didn't realize what an a hole I was until you actually pushed me through AI. Um, no, all right. Hey, [00:03:00] um, we've got Florida coming up.

Will Armstrong: I'm taking a little bit of a break. Um, I'm driving down to coconut grove for the first time since 2015. I have not given that show another try. 

Douglas Sigwarth: So you and so many other people. It seems like there's like two waves that happened for Florida. It's like either there's the group that hits it right after the new year.

Douglas Sigwarth: And then about mid February is that second big push. By second week of February, with all the shows going on between Miami and Jupiter and, uh, Naples area. If anyone's gonna do Florida, they're coming by mid February. 

Will Armstrong: Here's an interesting thing. Speaking of Naples, um, Sue Brown Gordon took over Naples National.

Will Armstrong: She's run some great shows up in the Northeast and, yeah, it's nice to have kind of one of our own. She's a, she's a jeweler and the wife of a well respected painter here, David Gordon. Um, so. Interesting to have her in charge. I texted her said something like taking one for the team You know, but I I believe in it, you [00:04:00] know, you got one of us kind of Taking over a show and she's already had uh, quite a bit of experience and and running shows So it'll be interesting to see what her experience is with a with a city like naples that seems to sometimes fight Uh, the art shows and, and, and how things are run and set up.

Will Armstrong: So I hope that runs well. And thank you, Sue, for taking one for the team and looking forward to hearing how things go. Great. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Yeah. So how about you? Are you all set and ready to go to Florida? 

Will Armstrong: You know, I'm getting ready. I feel a little bit of comfort with the fact that I'm renting a van. Oh yeah. Yeah. I'm finally getting rid of my truck.

Will Armstrong: I've got it sitting out front, but it, it needs like three or 4, 000 in order to make a decent. Profit off of it or at least kind of recoup some of the money and get so okay So 

Douglas Sigwarth: is it a lawn sculpture now? I mean, it's 

Will Armstrong: a studio sculpture and I don't think anybody in my complex, uh listens to this but I I definitely am clogging up a nice big fat parking space out front downtown santa [00:05:00] fe, but 

Douglas Sigwarth: You know considered a storage unit yeah, 

Will Armstrong: it's it's another one of those, you know, beg forgiveness instead of asking permission kind of things because I think they'd say no, but Whatever that's 

Douglas Sigwarth: where that's where it sits.

Douglas Sigwarth: Well, i'm seeing all of our friends you included all of the great work that you've been getting Ready for florida, and I know I said in the last episode I don't feel any fomo But I actually am starting to feel like i'm missing out on all the fun that's about to happen here in miami Oh, it's 

Will Armstrong: just so much fun.

Will Armstrong: Douglas. Why are you missing out on all the fun? Fun, all the good 

Douglas Sigwarth: times. Maybe you should call me on the road and let me know just how, how your never ending drive is going. And I'll be like, yeah, have your fun. I'll stay home. Thanks. Do you have any 

Will Armstrong: strategies actually, when you guys get out there on the road?

Will Armstrong: I know it's always two of you, but do you have any? Ways to mentally wrap your, your head around a long road trip, like, like these, these thousand mile plus, you know, everybody talks about the cannibal run from Portland to St. Louis [00:06:00] in two and a half days, but besides just hiring a guy, which I, I, I had a guy and he fell through, so I know I'm doing it myself.

Will Armstrong: Okay. But do you have any tips? Like, how do you guys handle it? 

Douglas Sigwarth: Well, back when I was doing the solo drives when our kids were home and younger and I was off doing the road by myself, whatever I could stream on my phone, I'd have to switch from music to books to podcast to calling people who, even if I didn't have to say a word, I come from a family of talkers.

Douglas Sigwarth: So I'll just put the ear up to the phone and let them tell me what's going on and anything to keep the eyes awake as I'm, as I'm going on the road. Sure. How about you? 

Will Armstrong: Uh, like when I'm traveling with my wife. We do this, she picks an album, I pick a podcast, she picks a podcast, I pick an album, and then all of a sudden that's four hours, plus like kind of breaking and talking about it, but trying to do the same thing solo, I've got 30 hours to drive, and I'm going to do, that is insane, [00:07:00] you know, I mean, it's just what we do, but I'm going to do 12, like the first day, try to be fresh, hit 

Douglas Sigwarth: early.

Douglas Sigwarth: Well, my long days were always the second day. I could never put in super long on the first day. I don't know what it is. I can't always get out the door first thing in the morning on the first day. I don't know if you're all ready to go, but. 

Will Armstrong: Yeah, I'm gonna try that. I'm a, I'm a get on the road by like 6 a.

Will Armstrong: m. kind of guy. So I put in that first day is like, okay, let's do all the heavy lifting kind of thing. I, I hate packing and leaving on the same day. I try to be, you know, have it all ready, but. Um, totally. I don't know. It's, it's, it is what it is, but I've got a rental van and there, there is a comfort in that.

Will Armstrong: Yeah, 

Douglas Sigwarth: you won't end up on the, on the side of the road like Christopher Jeffries talks about in, in this episode. He says his first time making that cross country tour from Laguna Beach in California through Santa Fe all the way to Coconut Grove the first time. He was pulling a trailer and that thing ran out of gas.

Douglas Sigwarth: There was [00:08:00] no gas stations along the whole Arizona line. So 

Will Armstrong: you know that one. Absolutely. I've done that, um, doing the Minnesota to, uh, Santa Fe thing. And you know, that, that first gas station, you were like, Oh, wow. How kind of them to charge six and a half dollars for a, for a gallon of gas. But they've got you because it's another.

Will Armstrong: You know, it's the only thing going and they can, they can charge whatever they want and you're glad to see, you know, yeah, 

Douglas Sigwarth: totally 

Will Armstrong: filling that tank with your fingers up. Just kind of just giving them the, you know, letting them know, letting them know you. Yeah, I don't like you. Here's 

Christopher Jeffries: my middle finger 

Will Armstrong: anyway.

Will Armstrong: Hey, uh, you, you've talked about, uh, Jeffrey's, but, but how about our friend Rako? She was headed down to Florida and, and going from Des Moines all the way to Florida and had to ditch the van. And what was it? St. Louis. So St. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Louis. Yeah, just, you know, got a rental and kept on going. I mean, good for her to just keep on moving.

Douglas Sigwarth: I mean, sometimes you just want to turn around, go home and say, ah, fuck it. 

Will Armstrong: Well, you don't have any, I mean, these first kind of [00:09:00] shows of the year. Rents due. You've got, yeah, the rent is due and you've already paid rent on all of your booths and Yeah, everything going for the next six months. You've already put the rent out.

Will Armstrong: So Everybody's broke this time of year and has a lot riding on it. 

Douglas Sigwarth: So, I wanted to bring something up and see what you had to say about this. Thinking back on a number of our past talks, this was a reaction that I had gotten. Talks where people are talking about they want their art to do, like, good for the world.

Douglas Sigwarth: Something that's kind of a humanitarian effort kind of thing. Okay. And the reaction was, well, if you're truly doing humanitarian work, you should give all the proceeds to the artwork you're making for this humanitarian effort towards that and not actually profit from it bullshit. Well, that kind of made me stop and think like that's a tough thing to say to an artist who's trying to make a living and is trying to connect to their voice in the work.

Douglas Sigwarth: And if they want to do [00:10:00] something for the world through their artistic talent. I mean, should they just not even do it because somebody says it's not pure enough for them? I mean, that's crazy for me. 

Will Armstrong: That sounds like that person's probably like 20. I mean, come on, if you can make a living and also make a statement about the world and get that out there and Maybe you're even being a little subversive and, and selling things to people that they don't know are, are, are statements, uh, that they were to you, because I think that the work is, you know, it, it, it can be open to an interpretation.

Will Armstrong: And I think if you're out there making a living and making a statement, more power to you. I'll make, uh, the occasional statement, but really I consider my work to be more storytelling, but I think it is tricky. To make a living and make a statement, but God damn, who's going to belittle somebody for making a living?

Will Armstrong: Um, there's 

Douglas Sigwarth: that. And then [00:11:00] it's also like we do change the world through the message. I mean, through changing people's minds. It's not just. Related to commerce. You know what I'm saying? That there's another element to what we do as artists that isn't so, um, self serving, I guess. It's like trying to help.

Douglas Sigwarth: Right. 

Will Armstrong: Yeah, I don't, I think that, that is, um, pretty naive, uh, to, to consider that, unfortunately. I don't mean to. Yeah, fuck it. Yeah, I do. I do mean to piss somebody off. It's, well, how, how precious. Uh, 

Douglas Sigwarth: so. Bless, I think that's a bless your heart moment, right? 

Will Armstrong: Yeah, 100%. 100%. Bless your heart. Wow. Alright, uh, moving on.

Will Armstrong: What do we, what else we got on the list? You got anything else to say about that? Because I think, um. 

Douglas Sigwarth: I just put a pin 

Will Armstrong: in it, ink stamp, just bullshit on top of that and move on down the line. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Moving on. The other thing I wanted to bring up is, you know, [00:12:00] Matthew brought up in the last episode about being diagnosed as classically ADHD.

Douglas Sigwarth: Yes. And I hear so many people. Use that like, oh, I'm so ADHD. It's kind of like kind of a throwaway thing, but just because maybe they have anxiety or their attention to detail, but the whole idea of that coming into focus for him and how that related to his art and learning about those, like those self.

Douglas Sigwarth: Imposed mechanisms that have helped him and that awareness. I found that really interesting that we never got to talk about after, you know, we finished our conversation with him last 

Will Armstrong: time. Yeah, that one stuck out to me as well. And, you know, I have known him for a very long time. And that really does kind of explain a lot like he does seem to be more like at peace with the world.

Will Armstrong: And but like being able to focus on your work and get through. Certain 

Douglas Sigwarth: things so but also the idea of being like stubborn. I know a [00:13:00] thing or two about ADHD I have plenty of people in my world that are and I know them and love them And I really know that it is hard to break through that mental barrier to do something that you're just not okay with doing.

Douglas Sigwarth: And I think that being an independent artist is kind of like the perfect career for that type of person because you can create your own rules, do what you want to do, make what you want to make, craft the life you want to craft, no matter what anybody else thinks or what they would say is supposed to be, you know.

Douglas Sigwarth: Right, 

Will Armstrong: right, that's a great point. That's a great point. Hey, so 

Douglas Sigwarth: next up here on our list, do you have that point that you had written here about what Stephen posted on, on the forum? You know, uh, 

Will Armstrong: this is interesting. If you're on the NAIA Facebook group, uh, Stephen King posted, uh, a pretty interesting link, uh, about money laundering and thanks a lot, uh, government.

Will Armstrong: I, uh, here goes my, um, my retirement plan. No, my retirement [00:14:00] plan. I, I just, I've always thought that, like, I, we watch Breaking Bad and, uh, I've watched Ozark. Like, I, God, I feel like I, I ought to be able to call up, uh, Walt and let him know. We could launder money so much more easily. I'm like, yeah, here are these 60, 000 paintings.

Will Armstrong: It's just such a great factory. You could just take in that money and, and turn it right back around to the drug dealer. Don't do that. That's a joke. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Well, I think the bigger point that Steven was making instead of the loophole, it's the, there's a new filing that we have to do as small businesses as either LLCs or whatever.

Douglas Sigwarth: I don't know exactly. I read the article, but this is something I'm turning over to my accountant. So everybody do this, but if there's a new filing you need to do to ensure that you aren't. Money laundering. So that's all we know. So we're all in the taxes mode right now. So look at that article for yourself, ask your accountant about it [00:15:00] and.

Douglas Sigwarth: Just make sure that this new thing doesn't get you, doesn't bite 

Will Armstrong: you in the ass. That's right. Here's another thing to bite you in the ass. Um, I did just forward that article to my, to my accountant and be like, Hey, make sure I'm covered. Um, but I did feel like I handled that similarly to the way I do when I have, uh, the same show as you.

Will Armstrong: And I'm like, Hey, where, where do I go? Uh, what do I do here now? What's the location? Drop a pin. Drop a pin. Let the guy who does it for a living, the smart guy, let them handle it. I just show up and sell. Well, it's 

Douglas Sigwarth: good to know this one upfront because a lot of artists have been learning the hard way about when California changed one of their franchise board tax rules and artists have been getting over the last couple of years have been getting bills of late payments and all this stuff thinking they're following the rules, but the rules.

Douglas Sigwarth: Changed so kind of in line with the whole [00:16:00] California thing. Make sure you're doing this one, 

Will Armstrong: right? Yeah, I I'm gonna text my bookkeeper here real quick because I forgot about that. 

Douglas Sigwarth: He's doing it right now people right now I am I 

Will Armstrong: really am because I will forget I'm in the middle of like production mode and panic mode and and I can't Get the guy to do the thing that you can't do that.

Will Armstrong: That's my big advice. That's our 

Douglas Sigwarth: model. That should be our model Yeah, get the person to do the thing 

Will Armstrong: isn't guy, uh Sexually ambiguous these days it could be But I don't whatever I call my daughter's guys isn't that like hey guys because they they hated being called girls they're like girls it's time for dinner they want to be there like can you just so i've been yelling humans and guys and I don't know if that's why you get the 

Douglas Sigwarth: fuck in here everyone hey.

Douglas Sigwarth: Calm 

Will Armstrong: down. Geez. All 

Douglas Sigwarth: right, [00:17:00] everyone. Well, we have jabbered on long enough. It's time to give an intro to our guest. Our guest is Christopher Jeffries this week on the podcast. Um, another glass artist like, 

Will Armstrong: Oh my God, you're going to nerd out on glass for the next hour. 

Christopher Jeffries: Well, 

Douglas Sigwarth: maybe a little. No, first of all, I don't know if you knew this, but he worked for Chihuly.

Douglas Sigwarth: Very cool. When I'm at a show, just about every other person walks in my booth and says, does you work for Chihuly? Do you know Chihuly? Well, he can actually say, yeah, I worked for Chihuly. All right. Yeah. Yeah. So cool stories about that and about his, his time in the working in the Czech Republic and sleeping on the floor of a studio just to immerse himself.

Will Armstrong: It's more interesting when he says it. Let's cut to the interview. We just, 

Douglas Sigwarth: yeah, what he said. There we go. So here is Christopher Jeffries. Coming up. 

Will Armstrong: This episode of the Independent Artist Podcast is brought to you by ZAP, the digital application service where artists and art festivals connect. So Will, 

Douglas Sigwarth: it's that time of year [00:18:00] again, when we all need to start getting stuff ready for taxes.

Will Armstrong: Uh, thanks for that, Douglas. I appreciate that. We all do, quite literally. I did get an email recently from ZAP. Uh, they were talking about, uh, doing line items and keeping everything together in one place. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Yeah, that's right. I tried it out for myself. So when I was logged into Zap, I went to my profile and one of the options further down the page is to download your transaction history.

Will Armstrong: Amazing. That's after you've proven to them that you're not a robot by, uh, correctly identify the tractor before you play that lovely game. So once you've 

Douglas Sigwarth: identified that you're an actual human, it's super easy just to select your date range, and then it will create a report of. All your purchases so you can hand off those booth fees and application fees directly to your accountant.

Douglas Sigwarth: Hey, my friend, how's everything going with you? 

Christopher Jeffries: Everything's good. How are you feeling? How's the leg doing? The leg is 

Douglas Sigwarth: good. It's still attached. That's important. I've still got it. I've thought about giving up [00:19:00] on it, but you know, what are you going to do? You got to work through it, I 

Christopher Jeffries: guess. You're doing everything you can do.

Christopher Jeffries: I am. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Yeah. And, you know, it's going pretty good. It's hard. I mean, we know as glassblowers, so much about what we do is so physical. We see the world through that physical lens. Aside from our artwork, I think a lot of glassblowers tend to be real active people. I mean, I see You doing stuff on the ocean all the time and fishing and all that kind of stuff and doing fun stuff.

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, it requires a lot of us physically, just even the show aspect. I mean, it probably even beats me up more than, more than being in the 

Douglas Sigwarth: shop. So last time I saw you was in, in La Quinta at a show. Have you had anything since? Are you getting ready for Florida? Where are you out with your show season? The first 

Christopher Jeffries: show of the year was in Naples, the new year show.

Christopher Jeffries: So, uh, went out there and did that, but we got a lot of rain. The first time I've seen that show get cut short on Saturday and then Sunday we saw some rain. It all ended up turning out okay, but it was, it was a pretty tough [00:20:00] show. I mean, it was just downpouring, but that's Florida for you. You know, totally the weather's all over the place.

Christopher Jeffries: It changes by the minute. So, uh, so I did that show. And then this weekend. I'm doing a show with a gallery in Palm Beach Gardens. Nice. I'll have, I'll have free walls that I'll show for that. Yes. I'll set up the, the artwork and run the show and kind of a mix of, uh, some sculptors. Mark Lewanski is showing in that show with the gallery that I'm showing with.

Christopher Jeffries: Nice. And then a jeweler, Ted Gall, Gary Traczek, Leanne Luster, uh, and uh, Alexis Silk. Yes. She does the kind of like the torsos and stuff. Yeah, the glass torsos that are like hanging from hooks. Yeah. So Alexis is in our gallery as well. So it's, it's a really cool group of artists and most of them are out there kind of representing themselves through the gallery, helping the gallery owner kind of run the show.

Christopher Jeffries: So me being here in California and as [00:21:00] I do three or four shows over the season in Florida, it was just kind of. A lot of back and forth. So try to stay here with the family when I, when I have the opportunity, they're nice enough to help me kind of run the show and, and be there and help represent me. So it's called Art Palm Beach.

Christopher Jeffries: Oh, cool. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Nice. So when did you get out onto the outdoor festival scene? Maybe 

Christopher Jeffries: 2004 or five, right around then I kind of just started locally here in Laguna Beach. They have the sawdust festival, which is all in July and August. That's an outdoor show that 60 days, you'll build kind of a booth where you, you frame it drywall.

Christopher Jeffries: It has lights. It's kind of like a little mini gallery, but it's, it's open air. So, um, you'll have a roof over yourself and, and then it's permanent. It's there for 60 days from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. Seven days a week. So that 

Douglas Sigwarth: sounds like a 

Christopher Jeffries: marathon. My gosh, that's a marathon. And then they have a glass blowing [00:22:00] little demo booth there that's set up where you can work out of the furnace and, and sell stuff right off the pipe and do demos.

Christopher Jeffries: And then there's maybe eight or nine. 10 glass blowers in there and they all kind of just rotate doing demos. Okay. It's, it's a long 60 days. It's not just 

Douglas Sigwarth: glass though. It's all mediums. 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah. Yeah. All medium. Yeah. So you'll have, you know, painters, you'll have photographers and, uh. Jewelers, sculptors, just kind of a mix of artists, ceramicists in there.

Christopher Jeffries: And the only prerequisite for it is you have to live in Laguna beach. And I think I've lived in town for like a minimum of, I want to say it's three years prior to doing this show. So they like really kind of tries to push the local artists in the area. Well, I remember when I 

Douglas Sigwarth: first started, you know, we started crossing paths out on the road and I remember thinking to myself, wow, this guy is really going big out here.

Douglas Sigwarth: You know, it's like a lot of artists on the scene, maybe create a piece that you can [00:23:00] hold in your hands. You were doing installations and you were presenting kind of on a different scale than maybe most people around you, 

Christopher Jeffries: you know I kind of evolved and morphed over the period of years when I started doing more shows back east really that was the the goal and the focus was to to be able to show larger scale work and Kind of focus on that.

Christopher Jeffries: It's definitely a kind of a different animal because You know, you're, you're going for a big fish, you got to be really patient and wait quite a while until you find something that, that works. You know, with some of the shows, just it's, it's not a volume thing. It's more quality versus quantity in terms of the people that come to the show, just looking for a few people to have great conversations with and connect with.

Christopher Jeffries: And different than when I first started out doing more pedestal kind of pieces or accessory pieces where you would, you'd be busier. Selling one or two pieces that going inside of someone's home instead of a 

Douglas Sigwarth: collection. So it's like you're [00:24:00] making connections at the show and you're not typically sending people out of your booth with something you're setting up appointments and visitations Projects that are more complicated than just the let me wrap that up and bubble wrap and hand it to you.

Douglas Sigwarth: And off you 

Christopher Jeffries: go. I mean, we're probably one of the few artists that's really just kind of selling a concept. We'll have anywhere between one to three pieces in the booth. It might be sit on a pedestal, but everything else is custom made for the client and for the space that we're going to install it in.

Christopher Jeffries: So. At the end of the show, or most people are packing up and, and kind of like it was a good show, it was okay, however it felt energy wise for us, it's kind of just the beginning of, of what we kind of got into there, so we'd stay after the show. Hopefully, if we're lucky enough to have appointments and work with clients, start the design process and get to see the space and whatever design we come up with.

Christopher Jeffries: And when we get back to Laguna [00:25:00] Beach, we drop it into Photoshop and start doing digital renderings and providing color samples. So it is a long process from start to finish from the time we meet, initially meet the client to really selling the artwork. 

Douglas Sigwarth: When I first came in contact with your work, my first thoughts were, wow, that's a tough road to hoe.

Douglas Sigwarth: Thinking I knew like what the street could accommodate, but then obviously over time of getting to know you and seeing that you have a presence out on the road that you you are able to make a living and meet the goals that you want to meet. I guess it does change the perception, maybe sometimes as artists, we have self limiting beliefs as to what's really out there.

Douglas Sigwarth: You know, who we're really talking to on a, on a weekend by weekend 

Christopher Jeffries: basis. It's interesting, you know, how most of our shows that we're doing, we find that there are unique spots that people have second and third homes, and that's kind of our, Clientele base, we want people that collect or they get it and [00:26:00] understand it and can appreciate 

Douglas Sigwarth: it.

Douglas Sigwarth: Yeah, so did you kind of grow into that confidence that those folks were out there or were you already working with that type of a clientele before you were showing on the road like that? What was that process like? 

Christopher Jeffries: Maybe a little bit of both. It was probably a huge leap of faith that I'd be able to make a living selling the work on a larger scale and kind of testing it here locally doing like Beverly Hills did the show there.

Christopher Jeffries: We go up to Washington and maybe do a show there kind of basically on the West Coast. Doing the summer shows in Laguna beach, but it was definitely a leap of faith heading to the east coast to try and open up my eyes to a whole different market and Intel base extending ourselves that far and try to figure out how are we going to do it logistically?

Christopher Jeffries: How are we going to get back east and and then Do these shows and navigate across the U. S. over the period of the year. Well, you have developed 

Douglas Sigwarth: a [00:27:00] kind of a unique way to maneuver that with like having two different show vehicles and displays and set up. So it helps you be able to maneuver that lifestyle of getting from coast to coast.

Douglas Sigwarth: Can you talk about how that came 

Christopher Jeffries: about? Basically, what we ended up doing is after we were doing a handful of just local shows on the West Coast, I decided I'd invest in another vehicle and get a trailer made that would allow us to fit everything in it. We packed everything up and our first show was at Coconut Grove in Florida, and I was heading out of California and I was looking at meter, how many miles I had on our tank, but it was still registering what my truck was driving without pulling the trailer.

Christopher Jeffries: So by the time I think I got into. Arizona. I thought I was, the next gas station was maybe 60 miles. Next thing you know, I'm on the side of the road, like only four hours into the trip, ran out of gas, call it AAA. And [00:28:00] then we make it to the next gas station. I ran out of gas twice crossing the country on our first travel from, from Laguna to Florida.

Douglas Sigwarth: Pulling a trailer. It just drinks the gas, doesn't it? It just drowns 

Christopher Jeffries: it. Eight miles to the gallon, nine miles to the gallon. And it was like a 1500 Chevy truck. It wasn't even, it was like a Duramax diesel or anything. So, so yeah, there was a little bit of a learning curve there. And, uh, I spent everything I had, everything I pretty much had saved on the getting another vehicle and getting the trailer made and then creating the new booth and building it.

Christopher Jeffries: And, um, it was like, we were all in. I have two kids at home, my wife and I have two boys. And so we were like, man, this is, this is kind of gutsy. I don't know if it's borderline stupid or just A leap of faith because we had no idea what the Florida markets were going to be like or what the shows were going to bring to us.

Christopher Jeffries: So it was, uh, it was a great experience and, and, you know, never know unless you try, right? I do 

Douglas Sigwarth: feel like as glass [00:29:00] artists, I feel like we have a little bit more pressure to get that bottom line to go because It's not just driving off to the show. It's like the cost of running our studios at home are just insane.

Douglas Sigwarth: I mean, it's just completely insane. And so when you get yourself so leveraged to do the shows and stuff, and then you think to yourself, My furnaces are on at home, and I'm out here selling, and if I'm not making money on the road, I'm really losing money back home. It's so true. 

Christopher Jeffries: It's so true. And then we have people in the shop who are lucky enough to have great help and people that are helping us and you think about them and the whole picture of the furnace is ready.

Christopher Jeffries: Well, we're gone. And then employees needing work when you get back and trying to keep everybody busy and keep things moving forward in the right direction. And you're bound to have a show where you get pouring rain and you get rained out or you don't. Yeah. You talk to a million people, but you might not sell one thing, you know, it's the, the zeros are hard to swallow and you have [00:30:00] to think, well, big picture wise, I mean, maybe we'll get a phone call six months from now or three months from now or next year, but it doesn't immediately pay your bills and put money in the bank.

Christopher Jeffries: And 

Douglas Sigwarth: keep that faith going too. Cause sometimes those, those downshows can kind of weigh 

Christopher Jeffries: on us. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and nothing's a guarantee. So we just do what we love and put it out there and hope. Something sticks. 

Douglas Sigwarth: So you you mentioned something about having glass blowers at home So you have people who work for you in your studio?

Christopher Jeffries: I do. Yeah Yeah lucky enough to have a great team of people that have came on with me over the years that went to school at Cal State Fullerton and We have a great glass program here in Southern, California We have two programs one at Cal State San Bernardino And one at cal state fullerton that where you can get your mfa and glass and study glass and they're currently building one at Ucsd as well.

Christopher Jeffries: So that would be san diego will have one and then the junior college palmar and junior college in [00:31:00] San diego has a program. So we're within maybe a 60 mile radius 40 to 60 mile radius. We have all these these programs and schools here. So um close with the instructor at cal state fullerton harami takizawa And she helps over the years has helped students that would come in and study glass that really wanted to continue to pursue Glassblowing as a career or get in the shop and see what it would be like to to work in a production environment I feel really lucky.

Christopher Jeffries: She she'll kind of every once in a while. There'll be a student that just Has the bug like we got it and just loves the shop and wants to be in there and and then we'll bring someone in And slowly kind of bring them in and introduce them to the studio and slowly get them working in the shop with us So it's it's been a really good good opportunity for 

Douglas Sigwarth: us.

Douglas Sigwarth: So then working for you Do they then also have the opportunity to use the studio for their their own learning too? Or do they have other access like through 

Christopher Jeffries: the school or? Some will do some co teaching through the school [00:32:00] and use the school and then the employees that work with me they'll use, they'll rent the shop and have it occasionally depending on a few of them have been starting to do shows so they'll be able to use the shop to make their work and start kind of developing a body of work.

Christopher Jeffries: And one of my employees just did a winter show that was at the Sawdust Festival. They also have a winter show. So he had a booth there and he's been working on getting a body of work together. So it's nice. And they're all kind of diversified doing different things. Some are more sculpture based, some are kind of more driven probably to the production side.

Christopher Jeffries: So there's kind of a blend of personalities there and it's great. They all get along really well. For those 

Douglas Sigwarth: not in glass, what does that mean when you say the production side? What does that mean? 

Christopher Jeffries: So, yeah, I would say that I guess the production side being where you're. You're more focused on developing maybe a body of work, a collection of work or a style, and you're going to make pieces at a [00:33:00] higher rate or volume of pieces that will go out to either galleries or you'll go to shows and sell.

Christopher Jeffries: So, for example. The individual that was working with me that is developing kind of a production line. He, he has a line of vases and work making some vessels that, that are functional and non functional, but we'll go into the shop and try and make a handful of pieces over the period of the day. So 

Douglas Sigwarth: something that might be more, not easily reproducible, but reproducible within like an essence.

Christopher Jeffries: Right, right, yeah. And I mean, during the wintertime, he was making everything from, I think, drinking glasses to ornaments to small stuff that you could sell and produce a lot of over a period of a day. Versus spending days on a, on a concept. So we have another individual in the shop that does more sculptural pieces where there's a lot more cold working involved, which is post production after we're done blowing it, they're in the cold [00:34:00] shop, spending countless hours, grinding and polishing.

Christopher Jeffries: lenses into pieces or making multiple pieces to create a a sculptural piece of Maybe spending 25 or 30 hours on a piece versus making maybe 10 or 15 pieces in a day 

Douglas Sigwarth: early in our career renee and I we We kind of got a wake up call when we did like the buyer's market of American craft, you know, we'd go and do the wholesale show.

Douglas Sigwarth: Okay. And we were really then exposed for the first time to all these different production quote unquote studios where, you know, they had like a line of tumblers, a line of ornaments, a line of this and We realized that wasn't for us that as a two person operation, we didn't want to hire other people. We wanted to make our own thing and just kind of work as partners.

Douglas Sigwarth: And so we, we kind of have crafted our business away from that whole aspect. What you're describing for you almost sounds like what you experienced when you were An apprentice for like Chihuly, right? [00:35:00] Is it kind of set up 

Christopher Jeffries: similarly? Yeah, I would, I mean, when I had the opportunity to work there up in Seattle with Chihuly, he was, it was definitely production oriented, high volume, there would be two teams of six people.

Christopher Jeffries: So typically we'd have 12 people in the shop working together. We divide them into two teams of six, and then you'd have. Two to three people on a starting kind of starting the initial shape for the chandelier part, applying the color, blowing the setup shape like a genie bottle, and then we'd pass it off to the second half of the team.

Christopher Jeffries: The other three and three, you're finishing bench and kind of a starting bench and then. Gathering on that, that start shape that we would create. And then someone would be making the finished piece. And we're making hundreds of pieces in a matter of a day with the two teams gathering hundreds of hundreds of times during throughout the day.

Christopher Jeffries: So when we first started [00:36:00] working there, I, I remember gathering like. with the palm of my hand open. Sure. Like by the end of the day or the second day, this was, yeah, this all, this was just blistered and filled up with water. So I'm like, okay, I'm going to have to start to gather with, with this part of your hand.

Christopher Jeffries: Cause I wasn't, I wasn't used to gathering. Adjust your grip. Yeah. I wasn't used to gathering that many pieces in a day or that kind of volume. It was just really high volume. And And your hands were in the, in and out of the furnace a ton. So it was a great experience in terms of being able to just work with the glass and gather that much in a day.

Christopher Jeffries: But it, it's a totally different animal than like what we're doing in our shop. Yeah. 

Douglas Sigwarth: I'm sure like the consistency and stuff too, like how much glass you can gather at a time and. I'm sure it becomes remarkably consistent. 

Christopher Jeffries: And then you're working with 12 people at any given time in a shop and everybody has hot glass on a stick and you got a lot of different personalities, but it was like, it was a real good group [00:37:00] of people there at the time working.

Christopher Jeffries: And you had so many different personalities and people working together that worked together. Well, the days flew by. It was, it was a cool environment to work and be in, as you could imagine, after a year of doing it, you. You kind of hit the glass ceiling, so to speak. You really feel like you experienced something special and really cool, but you're, you're not doing a ton outside of that specific job that you're really doing day in and day out on kind of like an assembly line.

Christopher Jeffries: So. Wanting to create and develop and grow as an artist, you kind of like, okay, well, what's the next step? And it was an amazing experience, neat experience, but what would be kind of the next step to allow me to grow and continue as an artist to experience new things 

Douglas Sigwarth: in your own career? Yeah, have it be in your own career right yeah i mean what you were doing it's almost like being an athlete and doing drills over and over and over and you know you get technically proficient [00:38:00] and i'm sure the wheels are spinning in your head like okay this is what i want to make for myself but.

Douglas Sigwarth: I'm working eight hours a day in this hot shop for somebody else. So. Yeah. Well, what was it like being in his orbit? I mean, we all hear these stories about Chihuly. Was he present a lot? Did you interact with him at all? What was it like? 

Christopher Jeffries: In all honesty, he was, we, we didn't see a ton of him. So it was more the, the blowers that were there and the people that were running the shop were, had been there for, for some time, but we would occasionally see him.

Christopher Jeffries: At the shop for a kind of a short period of time or we'd be maybe moving some pieces that we made from one room to another that he would be signing or Sometimes in the evening they would have bring someone in that was well known or famous whether or not it was a musician or a successful actor or someone that Was well known and we were maybe doing a [00:39:00] chandelier for them.

Christopher Jeffries: So they would come in and watch us blow and then he would be present for that. I 

Douglas Sigwarth: see. So like you'd have like celebrity guests who are buying his work. Yeah. 

Christopher Jeffries: So he was kind of give them a tour of the, of the shop and let them kind of see his place and, and kind of the pool where the Persians are and the, well, us blowing glass, uh, in the shop and kind of basically giving them a tour.

Christopher Jeffries: So occasionally we would see him at that time, but. We didn't see a ton of him. He was kind of definitely behind the scenes. This was at the boathouse? At the 

Douglas Sigwarth: boathouse. Yeah. Okay. For people who don't know Chihuly, that's his, that's his big studio. I mean, that's where his operation is. And it's in Tacoma. Am I right?

Douglas Sigwarth: No, 

Christopher Jeffries: it's, it's in Seattle, Seattle. Okay. Yeah. Tacoma. They have the, this is where the museum is there. And then the boathouse is in Seattle. So that's right on the water on the sound there. That's where the boathouse is located and then they have another shop that they built there in Seattle as well where they're making some of the production stuff more [00:40:00] of the the Persians kind of the Nesting bowls and the plates that look like seashells some of that that stuff and then the museum is in Tacoma They don't think they do any any His production out of there.

Christopher Jeffries: Maybe every once in a while, they'll come in and utilize 

Douglas Sigwarth: it. But does the mystique of like his persona, his ego, his reputation kind of wear off pretty quick once you kind of get to know the person, you know, like, like whenever we meet any kind of a celebrity or when they walk in our booths and say, Oh, do you know?

Douglas Sigwarth: Chihuly, you actually can say, yeah, I, I know I've worked on his team. So, I mean, what would you say from behind the scenes kind 

Christopher Jeffries: of thing? I really never got a chance to, to know him. He has a strong presence and he's done a lot of amazing things for Glass and, and has allowed Glass to kind of be viewed as a, I'd say less as a, as a craft and more as a fine art.

Christopher Jeffries: His regards, you know, what he's done for a lot, a lot of the other glassblowers, even though he's not in there physically blowing the glass himself, [00:41:00] he's really kind of brought glass to, uh, to another level as an American glass artist is one of the boomers of glass, what he's done, but he employs a lot of people and employees still does.

Christopher Jeffries: And at that time it was, it was a big operation. There's so many people, I think, coming and going and he's just kind of, More or less behind the scenes and not present a ton in terms of the the hot shot part of things 

Douglas Sigwarth: Okay, gotcha. So what what prepared you or what led you to the point of? Walking into the boathouse and being employed for Chihuly.

Douglas Sigwarth: What got you into glass to start with? I 

Christopher Jeffries: went to school at Chico State. They had a glass 

Douglas Sigwarth: program there. And is that Northern California? 

Christopher Jeffries: It is. Yeah. It is just kind of east of San Francisco, if you kind of drew a line out that way, but it's up in Northern California, and they had a glass program there. I graduated early from high school.

Christopher Jeffries: Took, uh, some classes. I grew up in Bakersfield. And in [00:42:00] San Joaquin Valley and took a glassblowing class at the local junior college in Bakersfield and fell in love with it. And from that point on, I was like, okay, I want to research and find a school that has glass. I wanted to stay in California so I could have in state tuition and be in still in California, close to, uh, to family.

Christopher Jeffries: And so I, I went to, um, San Jose state had a program and then Chico state had a program. And California College of Arts at the time it was called CCAC, but the west coast of RISD, California College of Arts had a, had a program as well. So those three programs I knew about and I went and met each one of the professors and kind of met the students and kind of got an idea of how much time do you get here as a glassblower to work in the shop and kind of what the professor was like and really connected with Chico.

Christopher Jeffries: Love the area. Ended up going to school there and [00:43:00] the professor there really was kind of a nice blend of pushing conceptual side of things and also pushing us On a, uh, on a technical level of the bowl, kind of a nice blend. Nice 

Douglas Sigwarth: balance. 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah. Yeah. So like we couldn't just make goblets or cups all day, unless we were going to cut them up and do something with them or we, whatever he'd let us make.

Christopher Jeffries: Things to improve our skill level, but it was all about coming up with an idea, a concept and, and trying to do something else with it for our body of work and kind of forced us to photograph our work and document our work. So a lot of great things that I picked up through that program. 

Douglas Sigwarth: That's so many other elements to glassblowing that some people take for granted.

Douglas Sigwarth: I mean, I've had experience with programs that are really all about technique and then programs that are maybe more heavily. Concept driven and I feel like the concept driven are those really for us as artists. It's a [00:44:00] stronger background for me. I mean, for what I want to do and what I want to make, I don't just want to like do the perfect drop foot on a bowl.

Douglas Sigwarth: I want, I want to create something that maybe has an elevated sense of aesthetic or 

Christopher Jeffries: whatever. Right. Yeah. And it has a message or that says something about, about you or what you're inspired by or some, an experience in your life that kind of stemmed of audio work or it's connected to you. So having it look different than everybody else's.

Christopher Jeffries: So I think being able to be unique and create kind of a look or a body of work that looks like your work or different than everybody else's is important in the big scheme of things of trying to make a living as an artist. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Coming back to the Chihuly model. You know, how many of his people who've worked for him just go off and do the faux chihoulis to create a career on the back of what they learned making stuff for him.

Douglas Sigwarth: That has been a little bit of a, of a, a thing that I've kept in mind with [00:45:00] having people in the shop or, or working around us is. You know, when you come up with an idea, you, you, you want to kind of have proprietary ownership over that and not really have somebody else who can see step by step by step how it's done and then do their knock on it, you know?

Douglas Sigwarth: Right, 

Christopher Jeffries: right. Yeah, that's true. It was just, it was a great chapter being there at that point in my career. So the very first day I worked there, I didn't even get to touch the glass. I was basically in the silver suit loading pieces all day. Putting them away. Yeah, and fortunately, I got to transition out of that pretty quick.

Douglas Sigwarth: Well, for anyone who doesn't know what you're talking about there, Christopher, you are the guy wearing the hot, it looks like a tinfoil suit, and when these blown pieces are finished, and Chihuly's pieces can be massive, you're the one who has to catch it and hold this thousand degree piece. In your arms, carry it and put it in the annealing oven.

Douglas Sigwarth: That's how you paid your dues. That's how you started. 

Christopher Jeffries: That's it. Yeah. They break it [00:46:00] off. And then we had a, uh, a torch that had a, just like our hot torches, but it had a foot pedal on it. So you put your foot on the pedal. We, we fire polish where it broke off and then the ovens there were like the size of a Cadillac.

Christopher Jeffries: It was, there were these huge ovens because some of the pieces would be. Six or seven feet long is when they went to pool like the horns or the longer chandelier elements. So you'd have it in your hands Yeah, basically crawl inside this oven. That's like a little car, you know You crawl inside there and set the piece in 

Douglas Sigwarth: there.

Douglas Sigwarth: Crematorium 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, exactly. And then they chalk up. All right, we got one more mage, you know, and we The two teams would kind of keep count on what you're making and you can compare your team to the other team. A little, you know, have that competitive, who's going to make more elements in a day, kind of keep it fun.

Christopher Jeffries: It was a great experience. And then after working there for a year, I was definitely felt like. Ready for a [00:47:00] different experience or to continue to grow. And then that's what my dream was to live and work in Czech Republic for while I was in college. So the Czechs work real different than the Italian way that we learned at Chico.

Christopher Jeffries: And you probably learned the same way as like, we've learned sitting down on benches, rolling the pipe on the bench more. Italian way of working. And then the Czechs, they'll, they work standing up. So they don't work on benches there. So it's a real different way of approaching the glass. Are the benches 

Douglas Sigwarth: taller and they roll the pipe standing up on the, on the arms?

Douglas Sigwarth: So we 

Christopher Jeffries: work on platforms, elevated wood platform. Cause a lot of what they do is. Mold blowing and the shop that I was working in they were doing a mix of mold blowing and free blowing stuff so we would work on wood platforms and then there would be a Kind of like a basin like a water trough with a yoke off the front of it That would have our blocks on it and they would have all your tools sitting on it.

Christopher Jeffries: So no one [00:48:00] ever sat down everybody from The, your first gather to finishing the piece, you're standing up working off of the yoke and then the pipes are about half the diameter of our pipe. So you can roll them in the, in the back of your hand and then the handle on the end of the blow pipe, they're wood and they're about twice the size, the diameter of our.

Christopher Jeffries: Our handles, they're larger wood handles, a real different way of working there, which was interesting, but was lucky to get a job opportunity with a glass artist there. His name is Igor Muller. Okay. So Igor worked in, uh, Simon Pierce, saw a job offering when he was in, in Czech Republic, studied glass there, came to U.

Christopher Jeffries: S., worked for their company for Simon Pierce and saved a ton of money. And moved back and opened up his hot shop in his studio about an hour and a half outside of Prague in a small town called Holice. Nice. So, through a friend of a friend, someone told me [00:49:00] about him. I emailed him and he said you can come check out the shop.

Christopher Jeffries: I had One way ticket to check and brought my tools and I'm just like, I'm going to go over there and hopefully find work and And just knock on doors and takes a lot of faith. Yeah, it took some some faith and stupidity, but it was great. So I uh, I just packed my bags and I think I had not even a thousand dollars to my name and just flew over there and Fortunately, your money goes a lot further over there when you get outside of Prague.

Christopher Jeffries: You could, you know, beers are a dollar and food's more affordable, but so Igor was nice enough to let me hang out and basically sleep on, on his floor at the shop. And I kind of started there from the bottom up as well. And when I showed up, he said it was a good time to be there and they have some orders and they could use my help.

Christopher Jeffries: And so he, he didn't employ me for four weeks and then. Four weeks ended up turning into four months and that turned into eight months. And the next thing, you know, I was, I was [00:50:00] there a year later, working there. And that was definitely one of the highlights of my life, the path of working with glass, learning a lot there of different aesthetics, the way they approach the material.

Douglas Sigwarth: How would you describe it as different or how it influenced you? A little bit of the minimalist, maybe? 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, they were a lot of, a lot of some. A lot of optical stuff and the minimal less being more We would occasionally do a melt of that green glass the kind of bavarian looking like green glass tinted glass So we do some antique stuff as well but a lot of stuff we were doing was kind of thicker optic stuff and doing a blend of working with Forms and molds that they had that was part of their production line and then some free blowing stuff that wasn't mold blown.

Christopher Jeffries: So Yeah, it was, it was amazing living and working there. The kids there go to basically high school to learn kind of like a trade school. So they'll [00:51:00] go at a young age at 14, 15, 16, start learning about glass blowing, being able to make batch and all the properties of glass, fusing, slumping, blowing, a school just for glass.

Christopher Jeffries: And um, and so The, the kids that I was working with when I was over there, they were younger than me, but they had been working for, for a handful of years. So kind of like you going to trade school and they're like 15, 16, 17, they're already in kind of like. Uh, trade school learning and it was a small studio, which was nice because over in Europe, some of the studios are, are larger, but, and most of what we made ended up actually coming oddly enough back to the U S and some to Holland and different parts of Europe, but the bulk was coming to us.

Christopher Jeffries: So I felt lucky cause it was small and, and it felt like a family and they, uh. We're right on all the heat shields. I was the only American living in town So I was [00:52:00] trying to learn how to speak Czech and yeah heat shields They'd write one word in English and then check English check and then so they were learning English And I was learning Czech and the all the heat shields were covered with words as we'd sit there and reheat all day We we would We'd be drilling each other on words.

Christopher Jeffries: And I was going to 

Douglas Sigwarth: ask that had to be a bit of a challenge, that language barrier, but it sounds like they made it accommodating. 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, it was great. And then Igor being that he lived in the U S he, he spoke English, so he could help explain a lot of things as well. And, but they really kind of helped push me to, to learn how to speak check and you learn like all the colors.

Christopher Jeffries: And then you learn, turn, you learn all the words in the hot shop, like right off the bat. And, and then you go to the restaurant, you learn chicken, beef, fish, and then you, and then you just point at something, and you slowly 

Douglas Sigwarth: You missed the word that would make all the listeners laugh, and that was blow.

Douglas Sigwarth: Whenever, whenever glassblowers talk about telling somebody to blow, it makes everybody, uh Giggle [00:53:00] like they're in grade school or something. 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, there we go. You can't forget that word. So yeah, it was awesome just being there and having the ability to kind of live in a small village and work 

Douglas Sigwarth: over there.

Douglas Sigwarth: And you did some stuff in Italy too, didn't 

Christopher Jeffries: you? So I went to school when I was still in college. I went to school at Lorenzo de Medici, the art Institute. So when I was there, I was studying. Mainly, um, sculpture. I got to work with marble a little bit and, and do some more figurative stuff, kind of traditional stuff and study a little bit of, of the architecture over there and art history.

Christopher Jeffries: And no, there was no glassmaking when I was there living in Florence, but, uh, it was cool living in, in Florence and being able to study art. So it was, it was fun being over there. That was. when I was still in Chico. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Would you say that that architecture element had influenced you and [00:54:00] influenced your style of of installation work?

Douglas Sigwarth: I mean because it does take a certain eye to be able to take a piece or multiple pieces and visually designing big spaces when it comes to placing glass. I mean I would 

Christopher Jeffries: definitely say that it kind of a little bit of every Piece of the, of something you, you learn or absorb as you, as you travel and places that you go that you pick up on that it all somehow ends up in, in there somehow, you know, with whatever you, wherever you end up going with your ideas and, and your concepts as an artist.

Christopher Jeffries: But Prague is just, it's, it's incredible how preserved it is and, and the architecture they have there. So. But everywhere you go, I think, in Europe, there's, you're surrounded by so much history. It's definitely very inspiring. I 

Douglas Sigwarth: mean, I do think about like the different kinds of, of titles or, or, or names that kind of describe what we do, at least [00:55:00] in this country as glass artists, you know, some glass artists would think of themselves just that, you know, glass artist or a glass blower.

Douglas Sigwarth: I think about like being a designer crafts person do any of those titles ever like get in your head and be like well am I this or am I that 

Christopher Jeffries: we wear so many hats we do so many different things like running our own business and trying to be an entrepreneur trying to. Be a salesperson, try and be a bookkeeper, stay on top of all, all of the shows and deadlines and dates and, and all, a lot of moving parts, trying to run a business on top of it, go out and sell it and, and then get it in people's homes.

Christopher Jeffries: And people ask me, what do you do for a living? I'm a mom and artist and, uh, But we, we have to wear a lot of hats day in, day out, different things we do outside of the glass studio. I feel like that being in the glass shop is almost such a small element of what we do. Yeah. A lot of post production stuff after we're done blowing it.

Christopher Jeffries: But the fastest part of the whole [00:56:00] process is probably looking at the big picture from the time we go out and try and. Sell it and produce it and install it. Like the fastest part of the whole thing is making it, which happens in the shop because glass is so immediate, but there's so much post production work, whether or not we're sandblasting or grinding or mounting the mounts on, onto the pieces or meeting with the client and doing all the back end work and the designing it.

Christopher Jeffries: Or or with the installers that are installing it for us So we really do have to be pretty diversified and in a lot of different things You can be a great glassblower But there's there's so much more to it than that in order to to make a living and survive doing it You see a lot of great glassblowers that are incredible glassblowers, but they're you don't see all of them out They're really pushing to sell the work Do not everybody has the skill set or it's acquired Skillset that I think we've developed over time.

Christopher Jeffries: But when I first started out [00:57:00] in doing the show and just Laguna, that one show during the summer is all I had throughout the whole entire year. So I'd do one show and that would be basically it. And then I was working for other people, helping them make their work, doing some freelance work, and then trying to work one or two days a week for myself.

Christopher Jeffries: Slowly work more than one day a week for myself for two days and where it comes three and then so it's definitely an evolving process. So 

Douglas Sigwarth: like you do big installations for people's homes of varying scales that'll translate or correlate into let's say like a hospital or other types of corporate spaces.

Douglas Sigwarth: Do those people who are doing those kinds of projects, do they find you at the shows out on the road? I would say it's 

Christopher Jeffries: probably a blend. It could be from one of the shows that we have done in the past where you'll meet a designer at the show and then follow up with them, sending them, [00:58:00] you know, information and, and a portfolio of work and corporate things maybe that you'd worked on, try to develop relationships with them and, and they don't always happen.

Christopher Jeffries: Immediately. And a lot of those typically take quite a bit of time to evolve. And someone will find us organically through online or maybe an Instagram. Yeah. But I usually, I feel like we meet one or two designers every handful of shows or every show. You'd feel like you end up meeting someone in the design industry.

Christopher Jeffries: Okay. We don't specifically target and go after designers. It just kind of is people find us through. Uh, either online or through shows, kind of, I think how we end up creating those connections and relationships. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Once you end up having a body of work that you have in a portfolio of that scale, for example, so, really what we have to do is we have to sell them the idea in the space.

Douglas Sigwarth: On the street that makes them feel confident that they can [00:59:00] step into attend twenty thirty thousand dollar project whatever it might be to feel like okay i can see where this is going and i can envision it. As opposed to just being like, well, here's a sketch of what I could do. And then they'll look at you like, um, like, can I see examples to kind of help my brain figure that out?

Douglas Sigwarth: It 

Christopher Jeffries: helps to paint the picture and having something that they kind of like a foot you can stand on something you've done where they can see that you're, you've installed maybe a body of work that you're interested in and a. Commercial setting and they're like, okay, you've jumped through the hoops.

Christopher Jeffries: You've been through it before. I can rely on you when, when you say it's going to be done in four weeks or six weeks or eight weeks or whatever, however long the, you know, your deadline is that you actually are going to step up to the plate and they can perform and rely on you because if you burn a bridge in the design industry, it's usually, it's not something you'd want to ever do.

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah. I'm always like, if I say it's going to be done at this time, like, I can [01:00:00] guarantee you it's, and let's say there's something catastrophic, I can guarantee you, we're going to follow through for you. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Do you work with contracts with 

Christopher Jeffries: people? Depends. Typically we'll sign a contract if it's a commercial location or stating how many pieces and kind of how much ground it's going to cover.

Christopher Jeffries: And, and then sometimes they're just like, we'll give them a rendering or a design. And we'll, we'll get a deposit and then we'll end up just completing the project, shipping it out, and we'll have someone install it. But 

Douglas Sigwarth: at first, one of our first projects we've kind of entered into like on faith. And then at some point, it, it started to feel like risky, so that was a wake up call for me, and so I have a cousin who, who's a, an accomplished lawyer, and I talked to him about my concerns, and so he hit all the target points that I've used as kind of, um, I don't like a template for when I work with big dollar items.

Douglas Sigwarth: I mean, [01:01:00] there might be a threshold before I would, it would kick in, but ultimately, you know, what if you're working for a project and let's say you're already, you know, several thousands of dollars into the materials and they've paid you, what if they want that money back? Or what if like the zoning falls through and they can't use the space and then like, well, now I want my money back, but.

Douglas Sigwarth: As artists, we don't have that kind of cushion or liability issues 

Christopher Jeffries: too. Have you ever had to deal with anything going backwards like that? Or have you been pretty lucky in that regard? Been really 

Douglas Sigwarth: lucky, but it's good to know that we, we made sure our business was covered. Right. How about you? Have you ever had that situation?

Douglas Sigwarth: No, 

Christopher Jeffries: fortunately, knock on wood, you know, I've been really lucky, but yeah, I mean, you go to make something custom and a specific color, you're designing it for the client and colors they want, and then. If you had to eat it, then what do you do with it? It's not like everybody's going to love purple or everybody's going to love whatever color they maybe ordered it in.

Christopher Jeffries: Or I think it's, [01:02:00] it's important in a larger project like that to know you are protected and you don't have, and from a liability standpoint, it's a good thing 

Douglas Sigwarth: to think about. Or figure out a way that, you know, resolution can happen in that write up, you know, so it's like, well, we can adjust something.

Douglas Sigwarth: Maybe we can change some colors, but it's not like we're just going to have somebody walk away from the entire commitment. Based on that purple, suddenly that purple doesn't work or whatever. It's like, no, stay invested in this. We could make it work for you. Let's just work with it. 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point.

Christopher Jeffries: Not everything always goes perfectly. That's for sure. 

Douglas Sigwarth: Well, I talked to you this summer about the fact that you're a dad and you have two boys and I know they're at that age now where they're like into stuff and they're into activities and everything. And you're juggling the professional side and the family side and you actually said, you know what, they're not going to be this age forever.

Douglas Sigwarth: And you find yourself in a position where you can be flexible [01:03:00] with where you go for shows so that you can be a dad, an invested dad, and also Yeah. So, 

Christopher Jeffries: um, my wife and I have two boys. We have a 10 year old and then we have a 15 year old. So we have, the two are extremely awesome. I feel so lucky. Um, it does, it happens fast being a parent and watching them grow up and is.

Christopher Jeffries: Throughout as they've been growing up doing art shows in order to support the family and support what we do Um, you always want to kind of try and find a balance and all that so I think that there's there's never a perfect recipe or answer for that, but this past summer and the summer before I really kind of tried to Scale back the amount of shows that I did during July and August and the end of June.

Christopher Jeffries: So we can spend more time with them, do a couple shows that seem to be the best shows for us, but, but also in locations where we can take them with us. Oh, we'll do [01:04:00] a show in Colorado where we can, we can take them to do some fishing. We did some whitewater rafting when we were in Colorado. Cool. So I think you're trying to find a balance and that is a, an important thing for me.

Christopher Jeffries: So. We can take advantage of, of any free time they have. My wife's from Czech Republic. I, I met her when I was living and working there over 20 years ago. So we'll go back to Europe every couple summers and spend time visiting friends and family, all her family's there. So visit some family 

Douglas Sigwarth: in Czech. Yeah.

Douglas Sigwarth: I feel like that time went so fast for me. Both of my kids got through their teenage years. It felt like a whirlwind. And so when you told me that, I'm like, I'm really glad to hear that because you're on top of it before I, I'm not saying I missed, I missed out, but I will say that this business is a hustle getting from show to show and making enough money and stuff that.

Douglas Sigwarth: You know, it's good that you can put that intention and make it all [01:05:00] work out because being a parent is one of the other big things that we want from this life, not just being artists. There's 

Christopher Jeffries: always another show I could do or there's always another couple shows I could do and kind of try and like find some kind of balance.

Christopher Jeffries: There's always more money to be made, but you'll never get that time back with your kids. So it's not easy. You know, like you say, we're trying to make a living and support them. And find a balance. But, you know, the oldest one's 15, and I'm like, man, next year he's going to be driving, and the next thing I know he's 18, and he's off to college, so it's, 

Douglas Sigwarth: it's quick.

Douglas Sigwarth: Yeah, so did they show any interest in the artistic side or glassblowing or anything? With the oldest 

Christopher Jeffries: one, no. The youngest one, maybe. But the glasses is a pretty unique material that we're working with that's hot. During COVID, we had them in the shop a handful of times and tried to get them in to make a cup or make a piece and pick out your colors and had them in the [01:06:00] shop, but they're just like, Dad, it's hot.

Christopher Jeffries: What did you do? Working with the glass is hot. There's been with the youngest one on maybe so a little bit of interest then I think the oldest one really respects and appreciates what we do and I think because he gets older it will even maybe Resonate more with him that we we make our living with our hands and it's pretty uh, pretty unique way to to support a family and a renaissance way of you know, totally of making this living and And what we're doing in order to survive, but they're, they're around it and they're exposed to it, which I think is important.

Christopher Jeffries: So 

Douglas Sigwarth: our studio is a building just detached from our house. It's a small garage on our property. And so like home life and studio life was very intertwined. And I remember one summer I, we'd had the kids doing their chores, doing yard work, cutting the lawn. And they came and they stood in the doorway of the studio and they gave us.

Douglas Sigwarth: The look of like, it's so hot out here. [01:07:00] Come here. Walk a little closer. Like, no, come closer. I'm standing at the glory hole, like come a little closer. And they're like, what, what? And they're standing in front of the 2, 300 degree oven. And I'm going, you see how hot it is right here. Do you want to change places?

Douglas Sigwarth: And I'll cut the lawn and you can work in here. I'm like, no, we'll go cut the lawn. Done. 

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah. What a deal. 

Douglas Sigwarth: They're like torture. 

Christopher Jeffries: That's torture. All of a sudden cutting the lawn is not so bad. That's right. Yeah, do you want to wash the car or do you want to, you want to help me blow some glass? What do you want to do?

Christopher Jeffries: It's not, we're not a dime a dozen. So I think their friends are like, no, they don't have parents that are, that are standing in front of the furnace or, you know, at the shop working. Nine to 

Douglas Sigwarth: five. Yeah, totally. Well, one thing I've always wondered is, you know, we've just, since we got into this, Renee and I, It's just been a hustle, and we haven't had the opportunity to do as much networking or being in the scenes like the West Coast scene versus other glass scenes in the [01:08:00] United States.

Douglas Sigwarth: It just seems like out on the West Coast, it's like glass everywhere. It's a mecca. There's 

Christopher Jeffries: a decent amount of glass out here. I mean, it's pretty surprising how, you know, obviously Seattle is like a huge hub for glass, but just even in Southern California, you have So within, I'd say, you know, uh, an hour north or south, you have, you'd maybe have seven or eight probably shops that, that are, we're surrounded by.

Christopher Jeffries: So if there's a job that would be a better fit for another shop, we would send it their way or we don't do lessons at our shop, but sometimes I'll get phone calls for lessons and then there's a shop that does lessons. And so we'll refer the lessons to the other shop and, um, They kind of all try and, you know, work together.

Christopher Jeffries: If someone needs something, we all know each other. So you can pick up the phone and say, Hey, I. I need a, I need a favor. I need to come in and so maybe someone's sandblaster is not working. They need my [01:09:00] sandblaster to, to do something. We'll have them come in the shop or they need a bag, a batch for something, or somehow they ran out of glass, but I think everybody's really helpful.

Christopher Jeffries: And I, in that regard, just to be able to, if you need something, where everybody's kind of a phone call away. Yeah. 

Douglas Sigwarth: We're a real unique group in that. I mean, it's not like the equipment that we have. That people just make and fix and sell equipment, few and far between, maybe, you know, one or two in the whole country.

Douglas Sigwarth: But it's like you have issues. We really do need to rely on networking with people in our area who are other glass blowers. We might need a hand with changing out a pot or rewiring stuff in the furnace or rebuilding a furnace. Any of that kind of stuff. Right. That I don't know that other mediums have that same kind of need to have that networking with somebody else in their medium just in order to do and maintain their, their work and their projects and their 

Christopher Jeffries: studio.

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, there's a lot of a lot of. A lot to keeping the shop up and going and [01:10:00] and then with our furnace with any furnace It's just melting the glass. It's so corrosive every year. We'll change have to change either change the pot out or we'll fix the burner block or the burner or something gets replaced and None of it lasts forever.

Christopher Jeffries: The furnace is sitting at 2, 000 degrees and you're melting glass in it and it just breaks down over the period of time and then, so there's always something that needs to be repaired at some point. 

Douglas Sigwarth: The repairs come a lot sooner than when we want them to. 

Christopher Jeffries: I know, that's, I guess that's one constant thing.

Douglas Sigwarth: Yeah, like we turned off our furnace for me to have the surgery because it was going to be a four month downtime for recovery, which We've never had that. I mean, last year we did it for the, we had the downtime for the right foot. And now this year for the left foot. But before that we were like 24, seven furnace studio running all year round.

Douglas Sigwarth: Anyway, we flip off the furnace and sure enough, one of our elements broke. So we're going to have to drop in a new Molly element and possibly change out our pot. I was hoping [01:11:00] just to come right back to it, hoping we weren't going to have to fix anything. So, right, right. It's the beast of what we do. 

Christopher Jeffries: It is.

Christopher Jeffries: So you guys have an 

Douglas Sigwarth: electric furnace? We do. We have one of the Stadelman furnaces from years ago. And we've just, we rebuilt it last year for the first time. Uh, we had to replace all the castings and the glass leaked out of a couple of pots over the years. And so we had like a moat of glass that had settled around the lower chamber, which was why we needed to replace everything.

Douglas Sigwarth: Cause we just lost so much insulating properties from having the glass eat through that. Okay. And that was a whole new experience for us building it from scratch. But when you do it, it's like such a high that you are so capable to fix something, you know, it really pushes us to the limit. That's so 

Christopher Jeffries: cool.

Christopher Jeffries: Well, that's, yeah, it's, it's just crazy. It doesn't, there's nothing that lasts that long in the, with the furnace and the glory hole. There's always recasting doors or something's going to, over time, it just. Breaking down with the amount of [01:12:00] heat and contraction and expansion and, well, the abuse we put it through, you know, just the normal wear and tear.

Christopher Jeffries: Is it, it's gotta be nice for four months though, even, I mean, minus the, your, your foot, but to be able to be down for a bit, is it kind of a little bit. It's been interesting. Allowing you to get some other stuff 

Douglas Sigwarth: done. Well, I've, we've been trying to keep ourselves creatively interested. We watched some YouTube videos, like we'd watched a few talks from Dante Marioni last week, which he's our.

Douglas Sigwarth: He's probably one of our favorite contemporary glass artists of the studio glass movement. It's almost like when we're blowing glass, we're in the trenches. And yes, the work itself does spur new ideas and stuff, but then having this passive period where we're not immersed in it, other stuff is coming up.

Douglas Sigwarth: So it's, it's kind of interesting. 

Christopher Jeffries: That's great. I'd say. More of my ideas and more of this, there's some of the things that evolved in our body of work has been outside of the studio where we've had a break or we had a time to [01:13:00] kind of like exhale and maybe my eyes get open to a new idea or a concept comes to me from being outside of the shop and being whether or not just in a different state of mind.

Christopher Jeffries: Yeah, because we are constantly when the furnace is up, you're kind of grinding it to the show. You're in the shop. You're trying to wear all those hats, but it's, it's, there's something kind of liberating about having it shut off just for a minute. It's quiet. It's weird to be in the shop without that sound of the furnace.

Douglas Sigwarth: It almost feels lifeless when there's no sound and no smells, there's so many elements of what we experience with being in the studio that is of other senses, you know, the smells and the heat and the whatever, and the sounds that we hear. That that feels like the energy of the studio, which is as addictive as working with the glass itself.

Douglas Sigwarth: You 

Christopher Jeffries: got the glow, you got the sound of the furnace, you have, you know, the fans that [01:14:00] are on, Cherrywood's burning, I mean, there's, there's newspaper burning, but even when it's just, when it's just idling, it's just, you walk in, it's warm, and you kind of hear that. That sound of the furnace roaring, it's, it's weird when it gets shut off for a minute.

Christopher Jeffries: You're like, Oh man, it's so quiet. I'm missing something. It feels like it's 

Douglas Sigwarth: dead in here. Totally. Wow. 

Christopher Jeffries: Well, before you know it, it'll be back, back 

Douglas Sigwarth: on fire. Back on the grind. Yeah. Well, Christopher, this has been good. I really appreciate this conversation. And I don't know, I think we've talked about some things that maybe other artists out on the road who aren't glass blowers.

Douglas Sigwarth: I don't know about the process of that goes behind it. That is just a little bit different than, I mean, the things we maybe take for granted, but other people don't really know when they think about glass 

Christopher Jeffries: blowers. Yeah. Well, thank you, Douglas, for having me on. It's been, it's been fun. I've enjoyed it. And, um, look forward to seeing you.

Christopher Jeffries: What's the next show we're going to see each other 

Douglas Sigwarth: at? I'll be out on the road in April. So you'll see me then. I'll be limping. [01:15:00] I'll probably still be in a boot or in one of those, one of those knee carts. But. You're amazing. I'll, I'll get there. 

Christopher Jeffries: You're amazing. Yeah. 

Douglas Sigwarth: All right, 

Christopher Jeffries: man. Take care. All right.

Christopher Jeffries: Thanks. 

Will Armstrong: Great talk with Christopher Jeffries, Douglas. Thank you for doing that one. And, and cool insight too, with talking about Chihuly and, and that is everyone's kind of go to when they talk about glass, if they don't know the movement and they don't know that much about it. I found that fascinating. I mean, I'm a Chihuly fan.

Will Armstrong: I like the installations. He 

Douglas Sigwarth: is somebody who has. I mean, done so much. He's basically given us a career because people want to collect contemporary glass art. But the thing that I found the most interesting is just about anybody else I can think of on the street. Christopher Jeffries, not Chihuly, by the way, he is selling a concept.

Douglas Sigwarth: He's not wrapping stuff up from his booth and sending work with them. He is selling installations that, you know, could range from 10 or up. Those are price points that I don't think a lot of [01:16:00] us would feel comfortable on the street, just saying, this is what I do, you know, it's a risk, which pays off for him.

Will Armstrong: Yeah. Big, big numbers. Sometimes they're round. 

Douglas Sigwarth: The round ones are hard to take. He says. 

Will Armstrong: Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, that is, that's the thing. Once you're in that market, I think you, you start to kind of figure out where you can make that happen. True. So not pull a zero. And if you do, then, you know. If you pull a 50 next week, then the zero was worth it.

Will Armstrong: Zero is so worth it. Planning the seeds. Yeah. Yeah. Planning the, the, the seeds and getting in people's heads. And maybe they'll come back and get it next 

Douglas Sigwarth: time. So. And when that thing happens in three months, six months, a year. Well, you know, then that show that you did all those many, many months ago. It's like, okay, that was worth it.

Douglas Sigwarth: Ooh, 

Will Armstrong: ooh, ooh. I got one. I got one for you. Even if you laid an egg. Sometimes the egg hatches. Hatches. It hatches, people. Huh? [01:17:00] Huh? Okay. Who do you love? I love it. Yeah! That's awesome. There's your metaphor for the day. You might have laid an egg, but maybe it'll hatch. It'll hatch. All right, folks. Uh, no more insight and bullshit.

Will Armstrong: I gotta go paint. Douglas has to go, uh. Elevate. I don't know. What are you? Elevate? Go elevate and fester. All right, guys. All right, friends. Uh, we'll see you on the road. Perfect. This podcast is brought to you by the National Association of Independent Artists. The 

Christopher Jeffries: website is naiaartists. 

Douglas Sigwarth: org. Also sponsored by Zapplication.

Douglas Sigwarth: That's zapplication. org. And while you're at it, find us on social media and engage in these conversations. Be sure to 

Will Armstrong: subscribe to this podcast to be notified when we release 

Douglas Sigwarth: new episodes. Oh, and if you like the show, we'd love it if you would give us your five star rating and offer up your most creative review on your podcast streaming service.

Douglas Sigwarth: See you next time.[01:18:00]