Based in Pontiac, Michigan, artist April Wagner owns and operates a private, state-of-the-art hot glass facility – the largest in the Midwest – called Epiphany Studios. Blowing glass for nearly 20 years, April has created some of the most unique and striking pieces imaginable, from small glass gifts and contemporary glass vessels to large private sculptures and corporate installations. Stepping away from the heat of glass blowing, April and her assistants Ally and Nicole share the beats behind Epiphany in this week’s Playlist.
What do you listen to while you work?
Mostly we listen to music, but in the mornings we listen to NPR. I spend so much time in the glass shop that that is usually my main source of news for the day.
How do you listen?
A laptop hooked up to our stereo system with four Klipsch speakers and a Velodyne sub. So we can listen to CDs and the radio, or Internet radio, and music over our network or from the interweb.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers?
I have a love/hate relationship with Pandora. We used to listen to Slacker Premium Radio but switched to Pandora because it was cheaper. But you get what you pay for. I’m so frustrated that I think we will switch back to Slacker — I mean how many times do I have to tell Pandora that we never ever want to listen to a John Mayer song again?
Does music influence your work?
Absolutely, but in an abstract way. I always listen to music when I work. It helps set the tone and pace of the day. Glassblowing is very physical; it’s a dance that needs rhythm and music helps provide that. If you look at my work I think you’ll see the flow everywhere thru it. I try to capture the lyrical qualities of glass as a molten material in the curves and line quality. A really beautiful piece should sing to your eyes. I included pics of a couple of my new favorite pieces.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste?
My favorite sources of new music come from my assistants Ally and Nicole. They are really on top of everything hip and new, but they also love old-school stuff that I’ve never heard before. Sometimes NPR will have great suggestions, too. I love checking out their end-of-the-year “best of” compilations. The music we play during the day definitely depends on our mood and what we are making, and sometimes on the weather outside. We’re in Michigan, so it can be sunny and 60 one minute and cloudy and snowing the next, so you’ve just got to adjust your music to match — a little of this a little of that, you know, mix it all up.
What song or artist best represents the work you create?
This is so hard to decide. I feel like my work is always changing and growing in different directions, but that it has a distinct style, is technically well crafted, is beautiful, appeals to a lot of people, and ultimately is feminine in its balance of fragility and inner strength. So who is that? Madonna or Aimee Mann or Norah Jones or Amy Winehouse maybe (but without the drug problem and untimely death — she had so much more to give the world). I guess the answer is a little bit of each of these wonderful, creative, successful, and passionate women.
Ideal place to sit and listen to your playlist:
In the Aeron Chair. I love the Aeron and since I hate office work it really helps to have something comfy to sit in. Sometimes when I’m sitting in it, I’ll come up with my best ideas for a sculpture and I can sketch them out in comfort. It is usually in the office, but we’ll roll it into the studio when people come to watch us glassblowing. The studio is an active workplace with hot glass, chemicals, and machinery everywhere, so I am amazed at how well the Aeron has held up. I’ve had it for probably 10 years and it still looks brand new!
Epiphany Studio’s Playlist:
1. Conspirer, Luciano
2. Naked Figures, Public Lover
3. Puerto Rican Girls, Bruno Pronsato, Thomas Melchior
4. 808 The Bassqueen, Ricardo Villalobos
5. Berg, Tolga Fidan
6. Part One, Cesare vs Disorder, Mikael Stavostrand
7. Into The Night (Nicolas Jaar Remix), Azari & III
8. Vibe Your Love, Maceo Plex
9. In The Mood, Art Department
10. Let’s Go Crazy, Prince
11. Everybody, Madonna
12. Oh Sheila, Ready For The World
13. Faith, George Michael
14. Need You Tonight, INXS
15. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out, The Smiths
16. Night Moves, Bob Seger
17. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
18. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Talking Heads
Photos: Les Ward (top), Sebastian Sullen (2nd to last), April Wagner