“It was a challenge. And I wanted to beat the glass and get it to do what I wanted it to do.
You can’t stop once you start. There’s no time-outs”
Glass blowers: know one? Chances are, you don’t. They’re a rare breed of artists practicing an ancient craft. Cory Ballis didn’t know any either…until he became one. After taking a glass blowing class to fill an elective requirement while studying at Fresno State several years ago, he got hooked. Now, the 32-year-old operates one of only two glass blowing studios in Fresno. (The other just happens to be run by Ballis’ mentor, Bob Kliss.) It’s a very small community forged literally by fire.
Coming from a family of artists, Ballis’ destiny may have been sealed from the start. But glass wasn’t a medium even he anticipated falling in love with until he took that class at Fresno State. But it wasn’t the beauty of blowing glass that left Ballis “mesmerized,” but the challenge. The struggle to beat the glass, as Ballis puts it.
In May 2014, Ballis started his own studio. The new business venture happened to coincide with his 30th birthday. He recalls it being a great day sitting on the back porch blowing glass. Currently Ballis works out of a space at Fresno Ideaworks in downtown, where he creates functional art (mainly drinkware) in a kaleidoscope of colors, and one-of-a-kind sculptural pieces. He travels the West Coast selling his wares and indulging his nomadic inclinations.
Here, Ballis talks about how he got into glass blowing, why the difficulty of the art form is what connected him to it, and just what kinds of temperatures he works in while creating his pieces. If you think 106 degrees is hot, just wait.