Glass Art Just Got Hot
Hot Glass Fiji has gained notoriety as Fiji’s first glass blowing studio, but it is much more. Hot Glass Fiji is a studio, an art gallery, a home and an exciting experience. Located on the sunset strip in Korotogo, Hot Glass Fiji is the passion project of Alice and Alex Hill, partners in life, art, and business. Alice was born and raised in the UK. Her mother was a sculptor and exposed her to the arts from a young age. She first discovered glass blowing while at college, where she found artists working in the campus studio and was exhilarated by what she saw. She knew immediately that she’d found her art form. Alice spent the next ten years of her life working in the UK as a glass blower. Her journey to establish the first glass blowing studio in Fiji was certainly not direct, as life often takes unexpected directions. Alice fell in love with Alex, a professional scuba instructor, and together they travelled the world. Fiji was initially just one more stop on their global diving tour. They arrived seeking a unique experience full of memorable dives and natural beauty, but they also found a home. For the first time in years, they slowed down. Alex set up a successful scuba centre and they started a family. Alice never forgot her love of glass blowing and throughout her travels took every opportunity to get into a studio and transform her experiences and emotions into something she could hold. The vibrant colors of Fiji inspired her and she knew that glass was the only medium that could capture the distinct and intermingling colors we see both on land and in the ocean. It became her dream to open the first glass blowing studio in Fiji and in 2012, Alice and Alex decided to make that dream a reality. The couple took a risk by closing Alex’s dive center and investing in a backyard glass blowing studio. Even with their workspace, kiln and cooling oven, no glass blowing studio is complete without the right assistants. It is impossible for even the most skilled glass blower to work independently. Some artists only design their pieces and commission glass blowers to create them. Even for those who design and create their own pieces, assistance is necessary. The glass is kept at an incredibly high temperature and is in constant motion. Controlling and forming the molten glass requires a well-trained coordinated team that can anticipate each other’s needs. Alice knew her search for assistants would be
unconventional. Fiji has no history of glass blowing, it would have been impossible to find assistants who had previously studied glass blowing or had any direct experience. Alice instead searched for dedicated individuals who could transfer prior knowledge and skills into learning a completely new trade and found Peter and Liza. Peter, a big, cheerful rugby player, was Alice’s first assistant and was recommended by an artist friend. Rugby and glassblowing seem to have nothing in common, but Peter believes that when he plays rugby he has to anticipate what the other players are going to do. He brings that intuition into the studio, often knowing what needs to be done before Alice needs to say anything. Before Liza joined Hot Glass, Alice knew her as a nanny. After seeing what Alice and Peter were doing in the studio, she approached Alice about the possibility of her joining in. Liza’s experience as a nanny made her neat, precise and detail oriented, all excellent traits when creating and recreating pieces that must resemble each other. Alice was still very surprised by Liza’s immediate technical skill. Growing up, Liza often helped her father with his work as a mechanic. It wasn’t until she began glass blowing that Liza realized how else those skills could be used. Alice and Alex’s original intention was to sell decorative glass pieces to tourists and wedding parties, but because of immense support from the local community, their work is much more diverse. On any given day at Hot Glass Fiji, Alice and her assistants could be making medals and awards for local businesses, decorative lighting fixtures, or glassware for home use. They are all very thankful for how unpredictable their work can be. Glass pieces are often a blend of creativity and utility, art you can use, and this is reflected in Hot Glass Fiji’s work practices. Hot Glass Fiji has a lively social media life. Fijians can explore Alice’s gallery
and order pieces without ever physically visiting the studio. However, there is at least one very good reason to visit the studio, the glass blowing experience, Alice and her team offer guided glass blowing lessons that enable you to make your own glass vase, plate, or cup that you can take home and enjoy. The experience consists of three steps; the demonstration, the dry run, and the execution. During the demonstration, you watch as two glass blowers work together to make the item you’ve chosen. They narrate as they work to ensure that you understand what it is they’re doing and what you will need to do. Next is the dry run. You step in and walk through the entire process, minus the glass. This lets you get a feel for the equipment and the hand motions without the urgency that molten glass requires. You’ll now be ready to make your own glass piece. The only thing left to do is choose your colors and jump in for a pure adrenalin rush. Your piece is then kept in the cooling oven overnight to slowly solidify and Hot Glass Fiji delivers it to you at your convenience. Alice and metal artist Shane Bower are currently planning a major art exhibition with a third artist following the success of a show last year. The exhibition it is expected to be towards the end of the year. Reach out to Alice through the website or social media outlets for more information about Hot Glass Fiji and to stay updated about the exhibit.
Hot Glass staff
Melted glass is shaped by fire in the furnace
Bridget tries out the art of glass creation.