5 questions for...Dylan Cotton, glassblower at Hot Spot in Fairfield
FAIRFIELD — Dylan Cotton spends his days dealing with hot air, but he’s not pushing political rhetoric.
Instead, he’s creating art at his studio, Hot Spot, where Cotton practices and teaches the art of glass blowing. And while he was an art major in college, his career didn’t start in earnest right after graduation. That’s because the band he was in, Latimer, got a recording contract and Cotton spent the next 11 years on the road, touring and cutting albums.
These days, though, the Wilton resident is a bit more settled. He’s spent seven years as a teacher in residence with the Westport Arts Center, working with a program to bring art to underserved Bridgeport students. In another month, he will begin glass-blowing classes in conjunction with the center.
Meanwhile, the studio, which opened in 2014 and is tucked in back at 112 Post Road, offers individual and group lessons and allows skilled glass artists to rent studio space to work on projects. Items created by Cotton, such as multicolored paper weights and pumpkins in various colors, are for sale.
On a recent afternoon, Cotton was giving a lesson to a mother-and-daughter duo, Pat and Bryanna Dellaripa, guiding them and helping them through each step of the process. Pat Dellaripa said her daughter is a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute “and she might be taking this for her art class. But I think I had more fun than she did.”
The Hot Spot
112 Post Road, Fairfield CT, 06824
Call: 475-999-8333; Email: email@example.com
Tuesday: 3-9 p.m.
Thursday: 3-9 p.m.
Saturday:10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Q: What attracted you to the art of glass blowing?
A: I went to Alfred University’s (College) of Ceramics. I’d always been attracted to fluid, “drippy” art. At Alfred, my locker was near the glass studio. I used to look down and watch. I did a lot of other things, too, like working with metals. It all kind of mixed together into one thing.
Q: How difficult is it to master the basics of glass blowing?
A: It’s difficult, but we’re good at teaching people how to do it.
It’s like learning to play an instrument, but it’s actually more fun than that. In the beginning, when you’re learning to play the guitar, it sounds pretty terrible.
Glass blowing is difficult, but it’s exciting and there are so many challenges to get over. People who are good at it can get hooked pretty much right away.
Q: What is crucial to be successful at creating a piece of blown glass?
A: Glass blowing is all built on steps, and it depends on what you’re trying to do. If you’re making a paper weight, you need to keep it centered and round, but if you’re making a sculpture, it’s different. It depends on what your goal is because the material can be used in different ways.
My favorite thing to do is to work with it sculpturally, which gets back to the “drippy” thing.
When I’m doing a Groupon class, then we’re trying to get everything centered, although some people don’t always want what they’re making to be centered.
Q: Do you ever start a project with a design in mind, but then wind up creating something completely different?
A: You know, at this point, I really have a very good idea of what the material is going to do, although things do happen. But then, it gives me an idea for something new, and I’ll do it again, but do it more thoughtfully. A lot of times working with glass you make a mistake and it ends up teaching you a lot of stuff.
But I’ve just been around it long enough to know, though sometimes glass that goes in the trash gives me a new idea.
Q: How many people have come in to take a class and then become hooked on the art of glass blowing?
A: It’s more like we get people who get hooked on us doing it for them.
But there’s one person, Beck Socia — he came in with a Groupon at age 14 and became fascinated and volunteered every weekend. Now I have to pay him. He’s probably one of the best glass blowers in the studio.