Pubdate: Wed, 01 Mar 2017
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Penticton Western
Author: Dale Boyd


As far as he knows, Patrick Vrolyk may be the first glass blower to
have his one-of-a-kind bongs and glassware displayed in a public art

Vrolyk, better known as Redbeard, will have his unique works on
display for the Penticton Art Gallery's opening of Grassland on March

"I'm super proud, super excited. It's a milestone of my career, a
highlight, you could say. I'm working hard to be ready for it. I'm
really excited, it's going to be fun," Vrolyk said.

Vrolyk, who lives in Kaleden, creates functioning glass sculptures.
For example, You're Drunk Ref, an expression of the lack of Canadian
teams in the NHL playoffs at the time, features a drunken Moose in a
referee uniform drinking a bottle and trying to keep his stick on the
ice. Another includes a dirty joke in the form of glassware answering
an age old question, entitled The Chicken Came First.

These will be on display for the exhibition's Alice in
Wonderland-themed opening, which Vrolyk will be attending, on March

Vrolyk started glass blowing around 1998. His roommate at the time
happened to get into the craft after discovering it at a Dead Tour.
Both were Grateful Dead fans, or "deadheads," as Vrolyk put it, and
his roommate, fellow glass blower Sebo Latour of Irie Island Glass,
saw glass blowing and decided to invest in the equipment to give it a
shot. With a combination of learning the first steps from Latour and
being self-taught, Vrolyk set out to take classes with masters in the

"I guess I didn't really realize I had the creative side until I
started doing this," Vrolyk said. "It's also based within my love of
cannabis as well."

He started out making small pipes and filling orders in production
work, but yearned for more of an artistic outlet.

"That was fine, but I felt like I wasn't really challenging myself
anymore. I wasn't able to put as much creativity into those little
pieces of work," Vrolyk said.

Making a living off his work, he was taking a chance and a big step to
leave the bread-and-butter craftsman work behind. Around two years ago
Vrolyk held an online auction for his last production order, ready to
move into expressing himself through glassware, creating statements
and portraying emotions rather than filling orders.

"I was halfway through an order and I decided, that's it. I just don't
need to do that anymore," Vrolyk said. "I was kind of getting bored in
the studio, watching movies while I blew glass. Now it's a lot more
challenging, making one-of-a-kind pieces."

He now embarks on artistic projects, often portraying comedy,
sometimes with a raunchy tone.

"Each one is a bit of a joke or a punch line. A bit of a story
happening all in one piece of glass," Vrolyk said.

Many of the pieces to be featured at the art gallery were made live on
Vrolyk's YouTube show, The Redbeard Show.

He has been producing episodes for around three years, with 150
episodes, usually airing once a week. Vrolyk infuses "comedy, blowing
glass and smoking grass," into his show with a somewhat instructional
tone as well for aspiring glass blowers.

"It's basically a more fun How It's Made show, so I do give tips and
tricks for glass blowers, but I kind of make it fun and general enough
for the general public to also get a kick out of," Vrolyk said.

Putting his work in a public gallery is fulfilling a dream he's long
since thought of, not just for himself, but for the larger community
of glass blowers.

"I think back to interviews I've done long ago, very similar to this,
where I mention how we dream of being in a real art gallery and
exposing the mainstream media and the, quote, normal folks, to what
we're doing. It's quite a movement that's not getting a lot of
exposure. It's a multi-million dollar industry," Vrolyk said.

Vrolyk's work can be found online on Facebook at Redbeard Glass, on
Instagram  On YouTube search The Redbeard Show. Vrolyk
is aiming to shoot some episodes of The Redbeard Show at the Penticton
Art Gallery during the exhibition as well.

There is still a public call out for submissions to Grassland, with
the deadline on March 3. Artists working in all media can submit up to
four works for consideration by emailing images, along with the type
of media and dimensions of each work by Friday, March 3. Submit  ---
MAP posted-by: Matt