“The glass is at 2,000 degrees, and everything is moving like honey on the end of your pipe,” says artist Ty Nault, a glassblower from Shelton. “You have to keep it hot so it doesn’t crack, and keep it moving, so it doesn’t flop on the floor.
“The first time [you work in molten glass], your mind is going through a thousand things. You might make a paper weight, or something flat. With the small pieces, you can do it by yourself. When creating larger pieces, you need an assistant, called a gaffer, to help you. You have to be super strong. You are usually working with one helper or more, depending on the size piece you are making,” Nault explains.
Nault grew up in Mason County, graduating from Shelton High School. After working in the insurance industry for a few years, he took a mail room job at the Tacoma branch of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc., a company specializing kidney care.
“Eventually I ended up in their IT department as an IT support person. During lunch breaks, a friend from the office and I would walk around and look at the Tacoma art galleries. We saw lots of glass work, including Dale Chihuly’s art work. We remarked about the expensive price and decided that we should try blowing glass. I took my first class in 2003 and have been blowing glass ever since,” shares Nault.
“I watched the Museum of Glass being built on my lunch hours. I worked for awhile as a gallery monitor there. It was mostly public relations work. I walked around the gallery, seeing all the art work. When Chihuly visits the Museum of Glass, he brings along a trailer so he can have a private place for a rest. My job was to guard the trailer,” Nault tells me, with some excitement in his voice. “I got to talk with him when he came in and out the door. I told him that I blow glass and am inspired by him and his work. I asked him if I could take a photo of us together, and he said, ‘yes.’”
“That was on my bucket list. Chihuly is very personable.” Nault gives a big smile.
“I started noticing glass when I was a kid. I was raised Catholic, and I loved looking at the stained glass windows in church. Then, as a teenager, I had fun melting and messing around with glass bottles in the campfire. Now, I am so addicted to glass blowing,” he tells me. “It is a meditation I lose myself in. I never know what I am going to make. It always comes out a little bit different. I plan to make it my life’s work.”
Additionally Nault works as one of the virtual curators for the online gallery of Museum Contempo, a private gallery museum in Mason County. “I stopped in one day with some of my glass pieces,” he tells me. “I hit it off with the owners, right off the bat. It is a private gallery bringing in artwork from around the world. The museum has two themed, juried shows per year – one features regional artists, the other international artists. The current theme is Asian Fusion.”
“The museum also has a large collection of art for the public to view,” says owner Andrea Mastrangelo. “We are a private museum. Everyone is welcome. For an invitation to a show, or a private viewing of our collection, call 360-870-6619. Our current show, Asian Fusion features work by Ty Nault. His work was chosen by our glass curator to stand alongside pieces by well-known artists.”
Nault enjoys his work at Museum Contempo.“I grew up in Shelton. It is kind of neat being from a small town, and now being involved with art from around the world.”
Currently for his glass blowing, he rents hot shop studio space at Area 253 Glassblowing in Tacoma. Owner Patrick Cahill tells me, “Ty Nault and I met in a glass blowing class nine or ten years ago. This is my fourth year owning this studio offering hot shop space and classes. Ty is enthusiastic, talented, and a great communicator in the way he is able to project his thoughts into the glass, into a solid object. He is a ‘lifer.’ He will never quit what he is doing with glass. It is ingrained in his DNA.”
Nault connects with his public and markets his glass through his online company Molten Glass Works, and by exhibiting at area craft fairs.