Hello World of Bongs Community, since more then 42 years Robert Mickelsen (Owner of the Mickelsen Studios) creates art as flameworker. He founded Mickelsen Studios, Inc. in 1989 when it was still a tiny enterprise in a 200 sq. ft. room in the back of his garage. Although he has had periodic studio assistants throughout his career, Robert has always worked alone. But that has recently changed. Mickelsen Studios has become three more artists (Cher Cheley, Kyle Smith, Ryan Moring) and a office manager.
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN GLASS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I blundered into glass when I was 23 years old. I was walking through a mall in Greeley, CO when I saw a guy in a temporary display stand making little chopper motorcycles out of glass. I was mesmerized and watched him for a long time. When his company opened a permanent store in that mall I talked my way through the door and they put me to work. It was completely by chance. I had no knowledge of glass or art. But I was hooked from the start.
WHERE DID YOU LEARN YOUR SKILLS?
Learning is an on-going process that never ends for me. I learn every time I turn on the torch. Life is for learning.
DO YOU CREDIT ANY OTHER GLASS BLOWER WITH HELPING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR SUCCESS?
I have been influenced by a great many people but the biggest influence has to be Paul Stankard. He taught me about excellence in all endeavors and how working at your craft is the purest and holiest thing you can do with your life. I have worked alone for most of my career but lately have really enjoyed collaborating with other artist
TALK TO ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR STYLE.
If I had to describe my “style” I guess I would call it surreal. I tend toward representation, but have a quirky sense of humor that comes out in my work. I like irony, mystery, and apparent contradiction. I am inspired by many things and try to be receptive at all times because inspiration can come with little or no warning.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH?
WHAT’S THE MOST FAVOURITE PIECE YOU’VE EVER MADE?
I have had many favorites but I always come back to my networked parasol that I made in 2009. If I had to just pick one, it would be that one.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON THE PATH TO “MAKING IT” AS A GLASS ARTIST?
I don’t embarrass easily, but the worst moment for me was back in 2010 when I thought maybe my career was coming to an end. It was the bottom of the recession and my sales were at rock bottom. Turning to making functional work pulled me out of it and for that I am eternally grateful to the functional glass art community.
AND WHAT WAS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT?
That’s a little harder to answer. I think every single day that I can walk out to my studio and light up my torch and do what I love is the best. I am grateful for every day I can do that.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW GLASS ARTISTS?
Be true to yourself. No one else sees things the way you do so no one else can create or interpret quite like you can. Train yourself, be disciplined, work hard, and be honorable, but above all, be true to yourself.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE STRAIN/EXTRACT, AND WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE TO DAB IT IN?
I am an IPA man myself. I do not smoke.
IF YOU COULD MAKE YOUR “DREAM” PIECE, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
Every piece is my “dream” piece.
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE, MOST OF ALL IN THIS WORLD, TO HIT YOU UP FOR A PIECE, AND WHAT PIECE WOULD YOU MAKE FOR HIM/HER?
I have always wished I could land the Rakow Commission from the Corning Museum of Glass. I would make a giant abstract networked sculpture for the new wing of the museum.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR GLASS ARTISTRY IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY?
Trying to predict this business is pointless. I do believe there will always be a demand for high-quality functional glass art. I think what comes next will be innovations in the craft and/or material that can be translated to the functional device. I try to keep up with what is going on for that very reason. I may be getting on in years, but I want to stay on top of what is going on as long as I can.
IF YOU WERE SHIPWRECKED ON A DESERT ISLAND AND YOU COULD ONLY HAVE THREE ESSENTIAL PIECES WITH YOU, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE, AND WHY?
A jackknife, a compass, and a good pair of shoes. Oh, you meant glass? A strong magnifying glass so I could start fires. Oh, you meant functional glass? A 48 inch piece of 20mm tube I could make into a blowgun. (Remember, I don’t smoke.)
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO/DAB TO?
Bluegrass all the way, baby.
THANK YOU, ROBERT MICKELSEN, FOR THIS NICE INTERVIEW AND FOR SO MUCH AMAZING ARTWORK WITH THE MICKELSEN STUDIOS!