Turning creative art into a legitimate business is one of the most difficult facets of becoming an artist.
Chris Mosey opened Ignis Glass Studio in 2001 on the Southside. In 2011, after several moves, he landed in the current location at 409 Broad St. This past weekend marked his one-year anniversary at that spot.
The studio is an interactive facility where patrons are encouraged to blow their own glass ornaments under the guidance of a skilled instructor.
Mosey is in his early 40s and has the look you would expect from a professional glassblower: thin build, glasses and a silver soul patch. His demeanor is friendly and relaxed.
He starts the day at the shop by firing up the ovens and the "glory hole," which is the furnace used in between steps to keep the glass in a malleable state. Part of the draw is the entertainment aspect of the glassblowing process.
"The kids are freaked out and fascinated by the process," he said. "When we tell them they can make their own, that’s when we can do business."
Mosey demonstrated his process, which involved using a large rod to dip the glass out of the glory hole. (No kidding, that's what it's called.)
In the hands of a professional, the entire operation takes just a few minutes, using repeated trips to the furnace and various tools to shape, mold and cut the glass.
Mosey is constantly standing and sitting, standing and sitting. After rolling the glass on a marver, Mosey can at this point blow the shape of the ornament.
He can also add color using a variety of beads, in which he simply rolls the hot glass.
Of course, other people can do this, too, a reason that Mosey said business is moving.
"I have all of the traffic I could imagine," he said. "Some people just call; some people just walk in. People are intrigued by the activity when they walk by."
Ignis employs two full-time employees, which allows Mosey to spend his day worrying about the business. Lately, his focus has been on expanding Ignis to other locations and making sure the Chattanooga location remains active.
The majority of customers are families, but Mosey said he gets the "girls night out" crowd and plenty of corporate team-building excursions, too.
He said the store should be booked solid by October with customers scrambling to make ornaments for the holiday season.
Being so involved in the business, Mosey doesn’t blow glass as much he’d like to. He said much of the fascination with glassblowing remains the same since he started.
"I like the teamwork, the heat, the lifestyle, " he said. "... I like the perception that people have about it that it’s kind of mysterious."
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