Blown glass, metal sculpture gallery to open on Port Angeles waterfront

PORT ANGELES — A gallery filled with a mixture of metallic and glass art — and a studio that will offer an opportunity for customers to blow their own works of art — will open on the Port Angeles waterfront this weekend.

Blow Hard Glass Gallery by Paul Labrie and RBS Sculpture Studio will open its doors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday — and will continue to keep those hours Mondays through Saturdays.

“We are ready to welcome people in to see the gallery,” said Bob Stokes, Labrie’s partner.

“It has been a very long time in the making, but we are ready.”

Both artists will demonstrate techniques during the grand opening weekend.

In addition to displaying and selling art, both artists intend to offer beginning art classes, but have not scheduled them yet.

Labrie also will host a “blow your own glass” opportunity for those who want to make a paperweight or other small piece. The class will cost between $60 and $75, depending on the complexity of the piece.

The one-on-one chances will be scheduled on alternating days of the week after Labrie has talked to customers and gauged when most would be interested in participating.

Long time coming

Stokes and Labrie worked with the city of Port Angeles for several years to rent the city-owned building at 110 E. Railroad Ave., and open a gallery and studio there.

The most recent obstacle had been the cost of re-establishing an electrical connection to the building.

City Manager Kent Myers said in July that the electrical connections were removed because they were in the way of construction for The Gateway transit center and were not reconnected because the city had intended to redevelop the property.

Myers said adding electrical power connections to the building, including a transformer, would cost about $10,000.

A lease was signed later in July, allowing the work to begin, and the city invested $10,000 to reconnect electricity, while the partners in the studio paid for electrical rewiring and remodeling.

“Once we got through the electrical issue, the city was extremely helpful getting us off the ground,” Stokes said.

Delicate glass pieces

The front part of the studio features dozens of delicate, humorous and colorful pieces of glass art work by Labrie.

Fairies wrapped in a piece of ribbon-like iridescent glass, elephants preparing to take a dive off of a ladder, and even kinetic glass sculptures grace the shop’s shelves.

“I like to do things that have some humor to them,” said Labrie, pointing out the elephant sculpture and another one of an anthropomorphic broccoli walking a very dog-like piece of garlic.

“I also like putting animals or vegetables in situations like they were people.”

In the back of the studio — which can be reached by entering the side door on the west side of the building — tempered glass allows visitors to spy on Labrie as he blows glass.

Those stopping into the newly-opened gallery might have the treat of watching Labrie craft melted glass — at more than 2,000 degrees — into a goblet, an animal or watch sticks of colored glass bend into tiny sculptures.

Through the other windows Stokes will demonstrate how he bends metal to his will, whether he is working on a chair or tool prototype or on his present project, bear sculptures for Tahoe City, Calif.

On display in his window are ceramic forms of the bear sculpture which were crafted by Cindy Elstrom of Port Angeles.

Stokes said eventually he will display more metallic sculptures in the building, but most of his display pieces will remain at Studio Bob, 118 ½ East Front St.

“I think that the city and community really recognize that although art isn’t the answer, it is one of the answers to creating a more inviting town for tourists,” Stokes said.

The studio will also feature pieces by Northwest glass artists, Labrie said.

The first featured artist will be Charles Friedman whose signature shell-shaped glass art is already on display.

Friendman is expected to return at a later date for demonstration of the creation of his pieces.

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Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at [email protected]

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