Thursday February 16, 2017 | by Andrew Page

A new student film provides insight into the Seattle glass scene

Filed under: News, Video

The lighting during interviews could be a little brighter, and viewers might wish for more context on the changing marketplace for glass art, but a short documentary just posted to YouTube by a freshman at Oberlin College offers an insightful look at the contemporary Seattle glass scene. The last name of the aspiring filmmaker -- Mahlon "Dizzy" Farbanish -- provides a clue to how he got access to Dante Marioni, Preston Singletary, Janusz Pozniak, and Paul Cunningham. But the deft editing and crisp camera work are solely the work of the precocious younger Farbanish, who became fascinated by video editing when he began putting together videos of his and his friends' skateboarding exploits, which led him to take film classes in high school, and attend a summer workshop to further hone his skills. The short film holds together well, and its professional qualities don't betray that it's a student project.

The younger Farbanish spent his recent winter break editing the footage he had shot on a 5-day trip to Seattle with his parents glass artist Tom Farbanish and ceramicist Liz Quackenbush into a 7-minute video documenting the passion for glass that drives a close-knit group of artists. Each of his interviewers shares his own brief biography, and what drives him to continue to devote himself to working at the furnace. The camaraderie of the Seattle scene is celebrated by each of the subjects, but each also acknowledges how things have changed. 

"The buzz in the community is that the glass movement is in trouble," says Pozniak. "It's getting a lot harder than it used to be."

"You have to have perseverance in anything that you do," exhorts Singletary, whose individual career continues to blossom. "And you have to dig a little deeper to create that really interesting, unique thing."

"I wanted to capture the struggle of actually becoming a successful glassblower," said Dizzy in a telephone interview with the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet. Though not himself a glassblower, he credits his parents for instilling in him a deep interest in the arts. And though he was always too young to work with glass when his father kept an active glass studio, he was exposed to the many glassblowers coming to assist the elder Farbanish on his projects. "My upbringing was always informed by glass," he added.

Asked about how he feels about the final result, he felt he hit the right balance between length and keeping it compelling for a general audience.

"Anyone can watch it and get an idea about the glass scene in Seattle without being committed to a long video," Dizzy says. He hopes the film will get noticed and plans to continue to make documentaries throughout his college years to have a portfolio ready when he graduates in 2020.

You can view Farbanish's film "Seattle Glass" below:

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.