Orient & Flume Art Glass
Story and photos by Stacy Fisher
Glassmaking traces its roots to at least 3,500 BC in Mesopotamia in the coastal regions of north Syria. Even earlier, Stone Age societies used volcanic obsidian glass to make weapons and tools.
The art of glass blowing, a technique that involves heating a blob of glass in a furnace at around 2,400 °F (1,320 °C), then inflating the molten glass into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe by an expert glassblower, is a highly skilled undertaking. The glass is molded into various shapes with special tools into beautiful decorative or practical objects for the home environment.
Founded by Douglas Boyd in 1972 in the town of in Chico, Orient & Flume Art Glass is nationally acclaimed for its excellence in glass design. Boyd was trained in the science of glass chemistry and has been a creative force in the studio’s success.
The company produces quality glass products that employ both traditional and contemporary styles in a wide variety of both iridescent and crystal glass. Many of their pieces can be found in the permanent collections of the most prestigious museums in the world.
Assistant Manager Ronda Davis has been working at the retail store for 28 years, and conducted a short tour of the blow shop located behind the retail section of the business where all the magic happens. The large room consists of several glass furnaces and workstations where master artists Scott Beyers and Bruce Sillars have been producing beautiful glass pieces for the company for a number of decades. Each artist enjoys the creative freedom to develop their own unique style, as well as collaborate on certain pieces, and may also customize items under special conditions agreed upon with serious collectors.
“One might say that a finished product like a vase may take two hours plus decades of experience to produce,” Ronda says. The quality of the craftsmanship is unparalleled, she adds. Products vary from functional forms like vases, paperweights, and tiles to sculptured art glass and decorative shapes that brighten and enrich the interior of a home or business setting.
According to the company’s website, Bruce Sillars is a “prolific designer considered by other glass blowers to be a true master of glass technique.” He holds a BA degree in Art with an emphasis in ceramics, glass, and sculpture from California State University, Chico.
Master glass artist Scott Beyers is known for his graceful, free flowing designs achieved through the expert use of “torch worked” techniques. “Through his extraordinary finesse with these most difficult techniques, his work displays mo- tifs that display the most delicate of lines, sensitive colors and sense of movement.”
The artists use an engraving process to sign many of the finer pieces, which are in high demand.
Museum quality glass creations are also on display at the store in a separate room that are not for sell, but provide stunning examples of glasswork that are simply jaw-dropping masterpieces.
Orient & Flume provide glass pieces that echo themes drawn from and inspired by nature in intricate, three-dimensional designs. The store showcases innumerable glass products that are unique and often mesmerizing. Ronda says that customers will find a large assortment of glass products that will appeal to any taste and budget.
Located at 2161 Park Avenue, Chico. Wholesale inquires are also welcome. Phone: 530-893-0373. Website: www.orientandflume.com.