glass image
Image: Angela Cash

INSIDE ANDI KOVEL’S St. Johns studio, a large furnace belches 2,000-degree heat while the 39-year-old glass artist prepares to transform 600 pounds of gooey, malleable glass glowing hot and bright into three-foot-tall vases. “Physically, the work is really demanding,” says Kovel, the co-owner of Esque studio, who specializes in large pieces like the glass moose head at the Doug Fir Lounge. “It takes a lot of upper-body strength and coordination to keep the glass turning.” Kovel and Justin Parker, Esque’s co-owner, are among the roughly 60 practicing glass artists sweating it out in Portland, which is quickly becoming a hub for innovative glass techniques, thanks in no small part to the presence of major manufacturers Bullseye Glass Company and Uroboros Glass. Our growing glass scene has even inspired the Seattle-based Glass Art Society to select Portland to host its 38th annual conference—one of the largest glass-art events in the country. From June 19 to June 21, as many as 2,300 artists will share their secrets at venues across the city. And on June 21, at an auction of about 125 sculptures, the public can share in the spoils.