‘BLOWING’ THE COMPETITION AWAY
SPRUCE PINE – Glassblower Colin O’Reilly said he founded Terrane Glass Designs in Spruce Pine this past year to celebrate the area, but now it’s his hand-blown creations being heralded.
His Oklahoma Whiskey Set was named the overall winner in Garden & Gun magazine’s coveted “Made in the South” awards for 2016.
“It was completely and totally unexpected,” O’Reilly said about winning the award. “It was an amazing surprise and a blessing beyond my wildest dreams.”
The award has not gone unnoticed. O’Reilly, 30, said he has been “extremely busy trying to catch up” on orders since winning the award with lead time on orders is currently six to eight weeks. After starting Terrane he said sold his products mainly at shows and online, which he admits was difficult.
“It’s really hard to sell hand-blown glass online because it’s one of those things people need to see and touch,” he said. “But, since winning the award my glass has really been validated.”
The Oklahoma Whiskey set for which Terrane won the award was described by Garden & Gun as a “flawless whiskey decanter and matching rock glasses” that are a “classic marriage of form and function.” Thumbprint indentions on the sides of the glasses add “another layer of protection,” O’Reilly said.
“I submitted photos and a short write up for the contest in July,” he said. “I found out I made it to the second round and I sent them a decanter and some glasses. I was then named a finalist and the magazine sent a photographer to the studio. I didn’t know I won until I saw it in the magazine. I was blown away.”
The Atlanta native said he wasn’t into the arts as a child. He didn’t begin blowing glass until 2008 while attending the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico.
“I was fascinated by a small area studio where hand-blown glass was made,” he said. “I was told I could be taught how to blow glass if I lived there in a camper and took care of the studio, sweeping and cleaning.”
He has since worked with some of the country’s top glass artists in places such as Oakland, California, Seattle, Washington, and at Penland School of Crafts. An internship at Penland six years ago prompted O’Reilly, his wife and two young sons along with his assistant Joe Nicholson to start a business in Mitchell County.
“I had been looking for a way to come back,” he said. “In 2016 an opportunity came up to split a studio in Spruce Pine and create more of my own work.”
His wife, Rachel, helps with Terrane’s designs, marketing, social media and all the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of glass blowing that make a business possible, he said.
The breadth of the material is what O’Reilly cites as his inspiration for glasswork.
“It’s the heat, the physicality of it,” he said. “You can blow it, cast it and grind it but the final product is this fragile, beautiful thing.”
Visit www.colinoreillyglass.com for more information.