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Glass-blower Alan Honn

Joey Mcleister, Star Tribune

BUYER'S GUIDE

Aesthetic: Traditional and formal, slightly Gothic Goes well with: Everything from classic décor to funky furnishings Available at: The Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul; Gustaf's Galleries in Lindstrom; occasionally at Al's Center Saloon in Center City (especially during the holidays)

Hand-blown glassware

  • September 11, 2012 - 11:22 AM
Most glassblowers work with spectacular colors. Think brilliant red bowls and long-neck vases streaked with psychedelic rivers of yellow and blue. "I'm one of the few who does a lot of clear work," said glassblower Alan Honn.

Honn first dabbled with glass in 1981, when he was an undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University. "I entered SCSU as a potter and sculptor," he explained. "A lot of glassblowers start that way."

At school, he ended up getting hooked on glass. "It's just an incredible medium," he said, unable to fully articulate the allure. So he left the comfy environs of central Minnesota for a series of internships at top notch glass production studios in Colorado. A few years later he later transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he continued studying glass and earned his BFA.

Three decades later, Honn has proven skilled -- and very fast -- at shaping a scalding orb of molten glass. He's on record for crafting a simple but handsome wine glass in four minutes and 45 seconds, though the typical goblet with its spired stem and classic curves takes upwards of 45 minutes.

Honn also creates platters, bowls and other functional items for the dining room. Admirers will appreciate the familiarity about Honn's work: He draws mostly from traditional forms and details, like the finest glassware from your grandmother's china cabinet. Perfectionists will like the finish: Honn's shapely works are nearly flawless in proportion and form.

A resident of Franconia, Minn., 50-year-old Honn moonlights as the proprietor of Al's Center Saloon in Center City, Minn. He spends two or three days per week at Foci Minnesota Center for Glass, a nonprofit arts organization in Minneapolis where glassblowers can rent studios by the hour. Here's a tip for potential buyers: Start by commissioning Honn to create a custom set of goblets (starting at $70 apiece), then meet him at Foci to watch him in action.

Honn still works with color "about half of the time." Yet clear class provides the better platform for his excellent craftsmanship. "You can't hide your mistakes," said Honn of working with clear glass. "It's kind of like an unglazed pot. Unless you've got an evenly blown form, it's really not anything. I want the form to stand alone."

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