We love our members, so every month we’ll be featuring one of them on the site and in the newsletter. This month, our featured member is Ontario glassblower Kate Civiero of Infinite Glassworks (@infiniteglassworks), who gamely answered all our questions about her work and her life.
(P.S., not a member yet? What are you waiting for?)
Workshop: Describe your business in 10 words or less.
Kate Civiero: Functional, colourful, modern hand-blown glass.
W: What was the first product you sold?
KC: I really do not know, or remember — it was probably over 20 years ago now. But I do remember the feeling that I got selling, back when I first started. I remember being super proud of myself, that people would be interested in my glass and would want to purchase it. I look back and think, do those pieces still exist? Are people still enjoying them now?
W: What’s your latest innovation?
KC: I'm not innovating product to product so much these days. My innovations are more in the refinement of my studio practice. And that has been really big for me, because things have really changed this year with my business.
Being a solo glassblower, everything I make is made with my own two hands. I came to the realization last year that I can only do so much. So a lot of what I am trying to innovate in my business and studio practice is being mindful about how I'm making: the economies of movement, the economies of making and being more mindful of things like energy consumption, the time it takes to make things or how hard it is on my body.
W: What’s something you’ve done in the past year that you’re proud of?
KC: This past year was so out of the ordinary that I almost don't know where to start. We sold our house and my studio, which was on the property, and moved north. I put down my business for three months while I moved, in the busiest part of the year for me. So I'm proud of myself for persevering through a tumultuous change. And I don't take change very easily.
Also, last year was amazing, as much as it was all over the place. I achieved a few big goals: I had my glasses in the LCBO Food & Drink magazine, I worked with Craft Ontario for some special anniversary glassware, and I designed and built a big cocktail project, collaborating with local food and beverage locations.
W: What’s something new that you’ve learned lately?
KC: I recently, amid all the craziness, bought a Nomad 3 CNC machine. I've been learning CAD and create 2D and 3D designs so I can mill my own glassblowing molds, which is really interesting. The skills with the CAD-ing have been awesome, because I can translate it into milling or I can use it for 3D printing, models to mock up installations and things like that. I love complementing my glass with other materials like wood, stone, copper or leather. So this has unlocked another corridor of making for me.
W: What’s the most recent thing you’ve bought from another Canadian maker?
KC: I bought a gorgeous walnut cutting board — two of them, actually — from local maker Larry Cluchey. I've known him for years — he was one of the first people I met when I came out of Sheridan College and started shows. He's a woodturner and woodworker and everything he makes is exquisitely done, with so much attention to detail. He and I work together a lot; he does the lids and wands for my honey jars. Whenever I can, I get over to his studio, which is tucked in the bush in the middle of nowhere.
W: Describe your dream studio.
KC: It's funny, if you'd asked me last year to describe my dream studio, I had it. I had this incredible two-story 90-year-old barn which I had completely renovated. It had a hot shop on the ground floor and a big open space upstairs, and all this quirky charm and such a good vibe. It was really hard for me to leave it. I didn't necessarily care about moving house — it was the studio that was really important for me.
However, I am right in the throes of building my dream studio 2.0, which is completely different. It's a fully different vibe from my old studio. It's way more modern and designed with glass windows, big glass garage doors and skylights. I think my new studio, as much as it's under renovation at the moment, is going to be way more functional, and will work with my ever-expanding production capabilities.
But also, my backyard is my dream studio. I'm not even that fussy. For so many years, I drove an hour and a half to blow glass somewhere else and back again. That slog of being on the road so much was the catalyst for building a studio, and now I just feel grateful. I'm lucky to be able to do this at my home, because so many glassblowers can't. I have, very luckily and through hard work, built the business to a point where I can actually say I have a dream studio.
W: What’s one book, movie, TV show, magazine, podcast or album that you’re loving right now?
KC: I’m on a full-on media diet at the moment. I am an all-or-nothing girl 100 percent, and I cannot watch TV or movies or read books or anything at the moment because I get too invested. But I have been listening to more podcasts lately. One is The Social Focus, which is about growing your business through Instagram. I love random topics, weird knowledge, and then specifically things to help my business grow.