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<p><font size="+1">Google News Alert for: <b>glassblower</b></font></p>
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the Job: Artist began business from scratch</a><br>
<font size="-1"><font color="#666666">Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -
Another benefit of being a work-at-home <b>glass blower</b> is hanging
with his dogs, Dexter and Millie, while he spins and blows his pieces
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<h1 class="headline">On the Job: Artist began business from scratch </h1>
<span class="boldgrey"> By <a class="headlinelink3"
</span> <span class="greytext"><i>Monday, June 30, 2008</i></span> <br>
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<div id="storyBody"> Drew Hine sleeps above a bubbling vat of molten
<p>And for good reason: Hine is a glass blower.
<p>He and his wife, Jeannine, spent three years and $120,000 converting
the bottom floor of their South Side home into a work studio.
<p>They built the equipment themselves -- including three furnaces
that burn 2,400 degrees -- and Hine sells the finished products a few
blocks away at his Carson Street gallery, Vessel Studio, which opened
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"Working at home really cuts down on the gas expenses," Hine said. "I
haven't driven in a long time."
<p>On the other hand, he added: "I have a $2,000 (natural) gas bill
waiting for me."
<p>Still, Hine wouldn't trade this job for anything.
<p>He moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to take a job at Pittsburgh Glass
Center, but left three years ago to start his business.
<p>"I like the freedom," Hine said on a recent day as he made a
series of plates as artistic as they are functional. "I have complete
creative freedom. I don't get bored with this."
<p>Another benefit of being a work-at-home glass blower is hanging
out with his dogs, Dexter and Millie, while he spins and blows his
pieces of art.
<p>On this summer day, the dogs chased balls in the studio while
Hine and his assistant glass blower, Kim McKinnis, finished eight
<p>Each plate takes a little less than an hour to make. It is a
meticulous process punctuated with an almost violent spinning that, in
one second, transforms the glass from an ovule to its final flat form.
<p>The process begins when Hine dips a blow pipe, or a long hollow
pole, into the vat of molten glass and gathers a fist-sized glob so hot
it glows orange. He blows through the other end of the pipe, sending a
ball of air into the center, creating a hollow ovule.
<p>McKinnis, meanwhile, melts colored glass -- in this case, blue
-- in the furnace. Hine later folds the colored glass over the clear
glass. Though the finished piece appears to be solid blue, it's
actually mostly clear, with only a thin veneer of color on the outside.
<p>Throughout the process, Hine must return the piece to the
furnace. The glass cools and hardens quickly when he works with it, so
he must re-heat the glass constantly.
<p>After 45 minutes, Hine has created a vessel from the once
molten blob. He puts it back into the furnace and spins, first slowly,
then with increasing speed. In doing so, the heat and centrifugal force
combine to slightly flare the edges outward.
<p>When the moment is right -- Hine says he can feel it in his
hands-- he pulls the rod out of the furnace and spins it furiously. In
an instant, the vessel with flared edges flattens into a smooth plate.
<p>"It kind of looks like a big spider web," Hine said of the piece.
<p>As he moved on to begin the next piece, Hine acknowledged that
running a glass-blowing studio at home is not cheap. It costs about
$3,000 a month in overhead, including supplies, energy costs and
<p>But it's starting to pay off, he said. The plates he just made
will fetch $95 each in his gallery. He makes large bowls costing $195
to $700, paperweights that start at $35, and vases ranging from $35 to
$2,000. Lately he has been experimenting with small drawer knobs that
will sell for $15 to $25.
<p>Hine has created large-scale pieces for local companies. Most
recently, he finished a piece for Medrad Inc.'s global headquarters at
the Tech 21 Office Park in Marshall.
<p>"We're able to make a profit now for the first time," Hine
said. "Within the next two or three years, we could have a bulk of our
loans paid off and still be doing well."
<p>It's not an easy job, Hine said, noting that he works seven days a
week, either in the studio or the gallery.
<p>But he gets to create every day, be his own boss and control his
<p>"And I love that I can work with my dogs," he said. "They just make
it so much fun."<br>
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