In the world of functional glass art there are some well known names - Snodgrass, Tony Cray, Mike Philpot, Darby - names conjuring images of intricate borosilicate art pieces. Precious metal trapped in glass to form rainbows and skulls, graal-worked labyrinthine patterns and puzzle pieces, spinner jets and razor marias, glittering dichro cacti and peyote buttons...These men are some of the peak artists in the community but they have also spent years working on their greatest collaborative achievements: Their children.
Some children of these modern glass masters have followed their parents onto the torch, some of their grandchildren, too - Snodgrass, particularly, already has two generations lampworking with him! Tony Cray's son, Niko, is well known to collectors and artists alike for his amazing work forming glass into functional shark sculptures. Mike Philpot's eldest son, Mike Junior (known as Coilpot in the lampworking community), is an up-and-coming artist based out of Oregon with peerless color-working ability.
In this particular blog we had a chance to interview the talented but humble Shurlok Holm (Darby Holm's eldest son) about his work, family roots, and future. If you are not familiar with Shurlok Holm let's go over the basics: Coming out of Grants Pass, OR, (Another hotbed for the functional glass industry) this twenty-one year old is already years on the torch - A GTT Delta Elite, in case you were wondering. Without further adieu let's get to the interview!
Illuzion: All right, thanks for taking the time to chat. So how long have you been on the torch?
Shurlok Holm: Probably, let's see, do the math now, I wanna say I've been making it my job the last three years but I've been on the torch for as long as I could remember. So there's kind of a little patch in there where I was still playing on it, but it wasn't a job. So I'd say I picked up the flame around seven and learned the basic fundamentals. That is where my addiction [to glass] started.
Illuzion: So what did you learn to do first when it comes to glass?
Shurlok Holm: So like I said, I started playing when I was really young, like elementary school still. I started making just clear marbles then on a real regimen and I kinda went from there - I made a certain amount of this and that and then I made some mushroom marbles, then some mushroom pendants and some simpler pendants. I went from that to - I started learning, let's see - Eush showed me how to make vases to test out my hollow themes, like little tiny ash vases for people - for their loved ones [cremains]. So I started on basically the fundamentals and after I learned flowers and mushrooms I learned how to twist dichro and pull spikes. I turned 18 and then he (Darby) finally gave me some hollow tubing and said, "This is how you make a pipe", that's when I started at making functionals.
From that point on, I've always had my eyes set on functionals because of the fact that was who I've been around.
Everybody's always been like, "When are you gonna do that? When are you gonna do that?", so it's always been a goal of mine, but I knew it was all for a reason and there was a purpose for the way it was being done. He (Darby) was honing me into the shape that I needed to be before I could actually produce what I wanted, anyways so I took the steps necessary to learn my craft.
Illuzion: Very nice. Now, obviously, growing up as Darby's oldest you've been exposed to glass from an early age but if an alternate reality had happened, if you were just coming into this, you think you'd still be interested in working in the medium? Would it have been something that you would've gravitated towards even if you weren't raised in it?
Shurlok Holm: Yeah, I think the only reason I'm actually so into it, to be honest, is the fact that this community and this lifestyle, it's a staple in our [American] culture as it is already. You know what I mean? So, for me, this is kinda like, it's my lifestyle no matter what. I don't see any other life, really.
Illuzion: That being said, have you found it to be good or bad to be growing up as Darby's kid in the industry, both trying to be your own artist and just growing up as Darby's son in general?
Shurlok Holm: Well, there's definitely the sides of both coins with every question, you know what I mean? Being my dad's son has got me to meet amazing people. It's brought me to amazing places and I've seen amazing events. I've been a part of amazing changes within our culture [the glass industry] that I've actually seen firsthand, which is rare and beautiful. That's honestly the best thing about being his son is the fact that I'm just able to be alongside most of the greatest things that are happening in [functional glass] history at the moment.
There's also the side of it that, yeah, I do get a lot of stress sometimes, cuz I have to live up to that but at the same time, I'm my own artist and I'm my own name. I will make my own image and whatever that turns out to be, my dad is pretty proud of me because I'm working hard. As long as I work hard, he will continue to be proud of me and that's fine with me. As long as I do what I do, I feel like I'm doing a good job.
Illuzion: So what is the story behind the name?
Shurlok Holm: I actually really like this story! So Merc, like the Merc's Minions MERC, so it was Colorado project. I wanna say this was, wow...yeah, it was just a little before I turned eighteen. It was around 2000, I wanna say maybe '13 or '12. That way I was still fidgeting with the name a little bit back then, how I was gonna do the logo and the style and whatnot. So anyways, I got on stage with the Chicharrones..they were playing at this afterparty [for the Colorado Project] and Merc happened to know them and he got me up on stage with them. Then I was beat boxing with them and before I walked down, he was like, "So those of you who don't know...this is Darby Holm's son, aka Shurlok Holm", and he kinda just said it and made my name. He just said it in front of a lot of glassblowers and everybody was like, yes, I love it.
Illuzion: It stuck, nice!
Shurlok Holm: Yeah, it really stuck and it was kinda cool. So from that night on, I was always trying to just make it more me and become that name. More or less, I didn't become the name but it became me.
Illuzion: So what is your favorite subject matter, man, when it comes to actually working glass - even if you haven't worked it into glass yet - what is your big thing?
Shurlok Holm: I don't have a favorite subject per se, but my thing is I like to expand my knowledge. Where I stand now on only 5, 10% into what I could know, I really wanna learn how to do soft glass. I don't know anything about soft glass, the techniques in that I feel like I could bring back over into borrow and utilize those techniques like way better than I have been. Just from observing and using those techniques and honestly, the more I collab, the more my knowledge grows. The more I work alongside these amazing artists, the more I find new techniques and new things that make my work better as it is. So, I can't really say I have a favorite subject. I can't really say I know what I'm working towards because in the end, I'm just working towards being better than I am yesterday, you know what I mean? Tomorrow is [my work] better? Because tomorrow is a better day. That's how I wanna see my work. If it can come out cleaner, more precise - sharper edges that don't look bad - just that clean sharp, sexy look. If I can get that to look that much more every time, that's what I work towards. That's what I've always worked towards, excellency, I guess. Without working for excellency, you're not gonna get excellency.
Illuzion: I got you. So, keeping that in mind, what is your current favorite technique? What do you like the most?
Shurlok Holm: Well, mille work is since I learned to make it two years ago now. That's what I have been using in my pendants, bear rigs, and all the tiles in Hoobs collab shoe. Really liking exploring it.
Illuzion: So, all right, besides Darby (with him being pretty obvious) who's your biggest inspiration? What artists either in the glass industry or outside the glass industry are really inspiring you right now?
Shurlok Holm: Give me five seconds to think. [COUGH] To be honest, man, I took a lot of art school and if I could say anybody besides my dad - which is a really hard one to pass up because he is most my inspiration - yeah, so anybody besides him? I'm taking out the rest of the glass industry, cuz I don't feel like that really counts, and music doesn't count for me either because I am so iffy and so back and forth with music. But I'd have to say between the three, I really appreciate Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, and...Picasso, obviously. So those three artists - besides glass, music, and anything else modern - I'd probably have to say are really inspirational.
Illuzion: Very nice. So who's your fantasy collaboration, man, what's the fantasy collab for you right now, the artist you feel like you can't approach?
Shurlok Holm: I've never been asked that...well, you know what? That is a hard fucking question! See, that's the thing, because I've collabed with quite a bit of people. The thing is, is I would really, really - honestly there's probably one collab that I see being the most beneficial for everybody but then, well, [whistles] I see two pretty dope collabs in my head [those] would be obviously a collab with Buck and then obviously a collab with WJC. Those would probably be two of the heaviest collabs I can think of at the moment...or a Banjo, but we all know that would be sick as fuck no matter what. Those are probably the sickest in my mind I could come up, besides one with my dad.
Thanks for joining us here at Illuzionglassgalleries.com this Father's Day week for our first artist interview here on the blog, we are incredibly happy it could be with one of the up-an-coming second generation glassblowers. Beyond this article we are also excited to announce, officially, that our downtown Denver location will be hosting father and son, Darby and Shurlok Holm, as a team later this year for live demos later this year! Happy Father's Day, one and all!