Nick and his wife Tamasin built Tsuga Studios in 2000 on land in Chester, Vermont that had been in Tamasin’s family for generations. Tsuga Canadensis is the scientific name for the Eastern Hemlock tree. Harvesting and milling these trees for the lumber to use in their new building Tamasin and Nick built a home and creative space for exploring and developing new techniques and design ideas while working to market and promote their work.
In 2017 an event occurred that would change how and where Kekic makes his glass art. On September 13th, 2017 the flue gases from Nick’s glass furnace ignited framing and timbers in the Glass Studio wall. Thankfully Nick discovered the fire and swith the help of local volunteers was able to control the fire before the building was totally lost. Most importantly no one was hurt but the glass studio did suffer major damage and the glassworks needed to be shut down. After much exploration, consideration and reconstruction, Nick decided to move his glass operations to Bellows Falls, Vermont where he found a site to melt and cool his glass using renewable hydro electric power from the Connecticut river. He invested in an electric glass furnace, moved equipment and began building a new studio in an old paper mill powered by the hydroplant sited on the first major canal in America. Now Nick uses the renewable energy from the Connecticut River to melt and cool his glasses, shrinking the carbon footprint and energy costs from his operation while continuing to make refined beautiful art glass from raw earth materials.
On Making Glass
Glass is a fascinating, compelling and challenging material with which to work. As a material for expression, its only limitations are the limitations that we create for ourselves. I believe there’s a way to do it in glass, one needs only to find the way. Glass working techniques have evolved for thousands of years. I’ve benefited from those early traditions, borrowing many of those old world techniques to help me to realize my own processes. Glassblowing for me has become a process of taking this super hot liquid and freezing it to room temperature in a controlled but sometimes precarious balancing act of heat, gravity, timing and human intervention in these processes. I find glass most beautiful when worked in such a way that somehow captures and eventually expresses this fluidity as a material while maximizing its unique relationship with color and light. I design my work to be decorative with clean, strong lines in form and color while most of my work is also functional as I’ve often felt most satisfied making things that are both beautiful and useful.
I’m often asked how one starts out on this path. I was lucky enough to be born into a glass-making family. My grandfather worked for forty-two years as an industrial glassworker at General Electric in Cleveland, Ohio. His experience and technical knowledge helped my father, Thomas Kekic, help build the first glass studio and program for R.I.T. in Rochester, NY. Growing up during the early studio art glass movement in America, I was surrounded by hand-made objects and people who worked hard at developing their craft, using raw, natural materials and great effort to bring their creative ideas to life. After my father passed away, I had all but forgotten his glassmaking. So it was only later in my life, at nineteen, that I fully realized my legacy while attending a beginning glassblowing class at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, where my father had been some twenty years before. Penland for me came to be a place for discovering my own creative resources. It was there that I developed a new relationship with glass, one where I began to rediscover the value of finely crafted hand-made things, not only as useful and beautiful objects but valuable for the satisfaction one gets in making them. These objects are not only important as expressions of who we are but there’s great importance in experiencing the creative process that brings them to life. Spending time making things that are either beautiful or useful, encourages us to reach into some of what makes us most human. There is greatness in the life of ideas and creativity these processes can generate. It is in this tradition that I believe making, using and appreciating these glass objects brings a richness to our lives that is both unique and precious.
– Nicholas Kekic