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In his first year at the University of Wisconsin at Madison as a National Merit Scholar in geology, Gary Beecham discovered the glass blowing studio. Though he maintained a deep interest in natural sciences, he soon started to haunt the glass shop, picking up what skills he could and looking for opportunities to try his hand at blowing. His willingness to help around the studio soon broke through the older students’ resistance to an underclassman’s presence and shortly changed both his major and his life.
Much of Gary’s work has been heavily influenced by ancient glass, both in form and in technique. The ancients treated glass as a plastic gem material, a substance that could be colored, stretched, melted and carved by the maker. Gary has experimented with countless ways of manipulating glass involving blowing, fusing and cutting. Over his twenty-five year career, he has become well-known for heavy, thick-walled vessels. For the imagery in these pieces, he first makes up a wide palette of colored overlay rods. Some pieces contain textile patterns that are then introduced into the crystal glass piece as it is being blown, creating the illusion of glass “fabric” floating in the bowl of the vessel, often with a second or third pattern appearing on one of the vessel’s reflecting surfaces. Others, incorporating complex millifiori, are formed into mosaics of brilliant color. The imagery of these pieces has been suggested by influences as divergent as astronomical forms, undersea creatures and figures from a Persian rug.
Gary’s work is shown and appreciated internationally.