Rick Strini was one of the first artists to revive the age-old tradition of Italian-European glass blowing and bring it to the backyard studio movement of the 60’s. After years of successful achievements in the art glass field, Rick moved into art glass lighting, designing “Art that Illuminates”. In addition to being a master glass blower, Rick has been traveling the world, analyzing glass factories and studios as a glass consultant.
Rick is about to celebrate 50 years as a glass blower.
Maui Made: How did you get started with glass blowing?
Rick Strini: I saw a teacher friend doing it and since I was already into pottery at the time, it seemed like a natural extension to go for. My teacher friend had me build a potter kiln to fire my pots first before teaching me how to build a glass kiln.
MM: How did you end up on Maui?
RS: I’ve been coming back and forth since I was 14 years old. In 1978, I sailed here in a trimaran that I built, and went around all the islands and back to Santa Cruz. I’ve been here now full time the past 14 years.
MM: Your work has taken you around the world but you still call Maui home, what is it about Maui that you enjoy?
RS: The water sports, and now kite surfing big waves.
MM: You are now offering your services as a glass consultant – what does that mean?
RS: My services and expertise are for hire. I recently went to China to study a glass factory and analyze their problems and tell them how to make it more efficient. I also consulted on a studio in India.
MM: You got a lot of exposure when your chandelier was featured in the Hawaii remodel of Extreme Makeover Home Edition- how did that happen?
RS: I was contacted through my alliance with Forecast Lighting, and the then VP Brian Hart, by Michael Moloney the designer. They were featuring a Hawaii home and they thought it would be good to have something made in Hawaii. The uniqueness of my craft led them to film me working and it was edited into the show and became a hit.
MM: What are some of your most popular products?
MM: What do you enjoy about the challenges of glass blowing?
RS: The challenges in the glass is that its always moving and requires total control. I have spent 50 years practicing the art of manipulating the glass on the blowpipe and am now considered a Master.
MM: You stay up to date on the latest technology with lighting, LED, etc, what are the challenges with creating light systems? Does the new technology make it easier to combine with glass?
RS: The lighting has numerous challenges including the color rendition of the glass to the light and making sure that the colors in the glass do not change and are represented accurately when you put the light to it. Now with the new challenges of energy efficiency and LEDs in to the market it allows for major creativity that wasn’t possible before because of the “heat” of the incandescent bulbs. Also the size, the small size of the LED can be hidden much easier as to not take away from the value of the art glass.
The biggest thing was the balancing of the gas in the LEDs to a richer more balanced Kelvin scale and color rendition. The old Tube lights were a value of 4500K to 6000K and that was a real “grey” appearance and quite annoying. The new colors are down into the 2000k range which is closer to “white” and true color. With the advancing technology even the LEDs are becoming more and more efficient and energy wise and well as cost effective. Newer LEDs are even now more dimmable and come with very efficient diffusers to spread the light more effectively.
MM: Where can people see and buy your work on Maui?
RS: The pieces are available for sale at Dolphin Galleries and Maui Ocean Center, and I have pieces on display at Porto Restaurant in Maalaea, Mama’s Fish House and Milagros Restaurant in Paia. People can also make an appointment to come by our Haiku studio
MM: Can you offer any tips for artists looking to turn a hobby/passion into a career? RS: Follow your passion, be smart, and just do it.
Mahalo to Rick Strini for taking some time to help spread some ‘light’ on his amazing work, and congratulations on 50 years!
Want to see more? Besides offering custom pieces, there are many pieces available for sale on his website, including Chandeliers, Ceiling Lamps, Jellyfish Lamps, Lily Vases (Jack in the Pulpit), Glass Pumpkins, and urns.
(Part of the Masters at Work Series)