Glassblowers united: Art in the family
CANAAN, N.Y. -- Nathan Hoogs and Elizabeth Crawford are married glassblowers. They run their business, Hoogs and Crawford, together out of a barn adjacent to their house on Route 295, just over the Massachusetts border.
They have both always been glassblowers, and they have both always been fascinated and inspired by glass. Crawford, originally from Connecticut, first saw glassblowing when she was 15; Hoogs, who grew up in Great Barrington, has been working in the field since he was 19.
"This is really what I feel like I should be doing," Crawford said, remembering the first workshops she ever tried. "That was it for me."
This is their business’ five-year anniversary. They moved to Canaan in 2002, when they both worked at Berkshire Glass in West Stockbridge, and set up the studio up a few years.
They sell everything from paperweights to hanging pendant lights. Their glass pumpkins are popular, and in their studio an assortment of bowls and vases and dishes catch the light.
"Nothing we make is mass-produced here," Hoogs said.
The studio is half gallery and half workspace, and Hoogs and Crawford built much of their machinery. They have an electric glassmelting furnace that is always on; inside, a crucible holds 250 pounds of melted clear glass.
Color "is crushed-up glass," Crawford said.
They apply new shades of colored glass by rolling pieces in progress over the crushed-up bits, which come in different sizes, from the size of a grain of sand to chunks like small pebbles. A reheating oven called a "glory hole" keeps things hot and shapeable after they come out of the crucible.
People follow Hoogs and Crawford’s art, and many return year after year for new items. They have a solid group of collectors, and they do commissions -- recently they made a hanging sculpture about 30 inches long.
The glassblowers work about four days a week making things.
"We only make what we want to make, essentially," Crawford said. "We enjoy it all Š I don’t have a favorite thing. The material itself lends itself to all different options."
The couple work together, cooperating and trading roles: on any project, one is in charge and the other takes direction.
"It’s better when one person is making the decisions," Hoogs said.
They have different methods and different ideas, and respectfully allow one another to explore their artistic visions.
And they appreciate each other’s work. Hoogs said his favorite thing Crawford has made is a series of scalloped glass bowls -- he likes the shape and the colors especially.
Crawford’s favorite of Hoogs’ work?
"He makes beautiful torchiere lights," she said.
They now offer the kinds of classes that caught their interest when they were young -- anyone can come and make a paperweight, or get an in-depth, hands-on look at their art. The classes are small, one or two people in a session.
"When we opened the studio, we really wanted to diversify, so we did everything," Crawford said.
They move freely in and out of the gallery during the day, keeping an eye on their kids. While they work and greet customers, their children, Aiden, 8, and Jane, almost 2, play in their sandbox, or hang out with their dog, who eats from a glass bowl.
Hoogs and Crawford are together all the time, but they approach their marriage and their business from the same warm place.
"What brought us together was our love of glassblowing and glassworking," Crawford said. "We really need each other and depend on each other."
Being married "probably makes it easier," Hoogs said. "We have to work together one way or another. We have a strong bond, and the ties that bind us together help us work together better. This has always been part of our relationship."
If you go ...
What: Hoogs and Crawford, glassblowers -- glasswork, classes and commissions
Where: 2439 Route 295, Canaan, N.Y.
When: Gallery open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Classes: Make a paperweight for $50, or get an in-depth, hands-on look at the process for $100 per hour.
Information: (413) 212-9404 Hoogsandcrawford.com
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.