Artist in the making

by Max McGlaun

A bead of sweat drips across his brow as he stares into a pool of liquid glass, heated to 2000 degrees, envisioning the masterpiece he will soon create.

“It is a physically and mentally challenging job that is incredibly rewarding,” freshman Fabian Chain says.

Chain has been glassblowing for just over a year at his grandpa’s glass shop located in Kechi. During the summer he worked full-time for the shop and made pieces for himself in his free time.

“When I was working full-time in the summer I would have nine hours a week to make whatever I wanted for myself and I’d get to put that in the gallery. If it sells I get 60 percent of that money and then I get paid an hourly wage of $10,” Chain says.

Not originally from the United States, Chain grew up in England with his “mum.”

“I lived in England till I was 11, moved to Austin for five years, moved back to England at the end of my sophomore year summer and lived there for a year. Then I moved to London,” Chain says.

After moving to London, Chain lived with his aunt and uncle and got an apprenticeship as a glassblower. His aunt and uncle were planning to move to India and he would soon have to find another place to live.

“I was like ‘What am I gonna do grandpa, you’re a glassblower, you’re old, you know what I should do right?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, you can come live with me and I’ll pay you to learn and give you a home and put you in a proper school,’” Chain says.

Chain enrolled at Butler, with a plan to get an associate’s degree in business, and a hope to transfer to Emporia State University for glassblowing and business. He will eventually take over his grandpa’s glass shop and has opportunistic ideas for it.

“…I want to franchise it. Basically, we have recipes for pieces that sell. That’s the way restaurant franchises work, they have recipes for food that sell; well, we have recipes for glass that sell,” Chain says.

If his plan for franchising fails, he believes that a business degree is a good fallback. But he doesn’t plan to fail.

“There’s a lot of excellent glassblowers that don’t have money, and a lot of people looking to invest that don’t have anything to invest in that’s going to have a proper return. Well, this could have a really good return,” Chain says. “I’ve decided I’m going to be rich … so it’s gonna work out.”

With a natural talent for glassblowing and optimistic plans for his family glass shop, Chain has a bright road ahead of him.

“I had it rough originally, but I feel like it’s helped me grow as a person. I feel invincible now,” Chain says.

 

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