The Molten Art Classic is an organic example of what happens when passion meets resources. Team leader, Adam Whobrey, also known as Hoobs, handpicks some of the top borosilicate glass artists in the world to create an exquisite one of a kind piece together at Classic 33 Studios in Huntington Beach, Ca. It is the largest collaborative art event to unify top borosilicate glass artists from around the world, all adding their respective influences and unique flair to the collective piece.
With thousands of hours of work, each piece is 100 percent handmade flame-worked borosilicate glass with no metal, wood, or glue involved. Every piece is welded together in a hot flame and sculpted freehand—no molds involved. Multiple torches are used to melt and shape the glass within the flame and an electric oven called a kiln is used to keep the individual pieces warm while building. Some pieces are composed of hundreds of separate pieces put together to create one final product. Other than the artist’s hands and the torch, a few basic tools are used, like graphite pads, rods of various sizes, and some brass carving tools shaped like small butter knives.
The composition of borosilicate glass does not expand the same way traditional soft glass does. By adding boric oxide with silica to the traditional glass mix of sand, limestone and sodium carbonate, it adopts different chemical and thermal properties including a low rate of thermal expansion. The benefit of this low thermal expansion is that it can withstand different temperatures at the same time and transitions smoother between temperatures allowing for more work to be done and different colors to interact.
These properties allow borosilicate glass lampwork artists to add much more detail per square inch. However, this massive collaboration is not limited to the size of a shelf. In 2018, “The Glass Odyssey” space station stands at 48″ tall, 28″ wide and weighs 50 pounds; the piece is an amazing sight with an estimated 3,000 hours of work to get lost in. This massive creation had 27 talented artists involved, showing a truly collaborative effort. This groundbreaking event allows for collaborations across every medium. This is the first event of its kind; this scale has yet to be achieved in the medium of glass. The bar is being set high.
The Molten Art Classic started in 2015 by founder Carlos Ali and lead artists Hoobs, and Steve Hops getting together and coordinating seven other artists to work together and create the amazing “Tow U” truck. The response to not only the artwork but also watching the process of putting it together was so positive that the Molten Art Classic became an annual occurrence. The second piece was the “Ziggy’s Correctional Bus” with thirteen talented artists on board in 2016. The Molten Art Classic provides top-tier artists with a venue that has worldwide attention and space for all to show glass sculpting at its finest. These were the humble snowflakes responsible for the avalanche of lampwork to come.
In 2017, eighteen artists came together and produced the “The Sea Cow Pirate Ship”—a magnificent piece weighing in over 18lbs and standing 29” tall, 12” wide, and 28” long. The piece exemplifies the special and intricate control over the molten medium that these artists have. The goal is to push the limit every year and keep creating as new ideas and techniques are perfected and grown.
“The Glass Odyssey” and 2019’s “The Glass Shipwreck” were chosen as a way to push the boundaries and yield larger results. These showcase the limitless possibilities and highly detailed work that borosilicate glass art can achieve. While it is fully functional as a pipe, the end result is art and beauty for all to appreciate. Breaking the glass pipe roof that borosilicate art has been limited to is the intention of this project.
There are many techniques and colors incorporated into this style of art that have been limited to private collections and have not been seen by many other avenues of art or the eyes of the world in general. The Molten Art Classic seeks to expand the scale of these artist’s work and allow for much larger results with new ideas and projects to propel these pieces of art to tour museums, galleries, and prestigious art shows around the world.
The top-notch team is carefully selected, as each artist is brought together for not only their diverse and extensive tangible skill sets, but also their humble attitudes and ability to work fluidly and efficiently as a team. Their deep love and passion for this relatively new art is what they all share, and is the soul of The Molten Art Classic.
The event begins with the lead artists creating some sort of empty vessel as an open canvas for all the other artists to add their influence and style. The live event usually takes place from morning to midnight over four days, with prior planning and prep work taking months. The well-orchestrated event houses artists near the project so they can really focus and invest their energy into the piece with as little distractions as possible. This is history in the making and they understand the importance of attention to detail, especially when other people’s hard work and efforts are on the line.
The process of seeing such a magnificent piece come together is breathtaking. From the beginning as rods of glass sculpted into smaller pieces by individual artists and eventually put together in its final orientation as a unified piece, the Molten Art Classic embodies humanity’s natural intrigue of teamwork, beauty, and boundaries. It is no easy task considering all factors that go into normal collaboration work and adding the fragility of glass, it is quite the documentary-worthy experience. The project aims to be an international traveling art show, touring the world and putting on the most magnificent display of borosilicate manipulation.
If you are interested in learning more about The Molten Art Classic, including the artists and sponsorship opportunities, visit @moltenartclassic on Instagram.