Robert has been working in blown glass for over 20 years, while maintaining a broad production line he is Increasing his focus on one-of-a-kind and commission work. His glasswork consists of vases, perfume bottles, paperweights and sculptural pieces, with his current specialty being works that incorporate veiled silver glass with delicate bubble patterns. Since 1977 Robert's works have been shown in numerous shows across the country. Says Robert, "Most of my inspiration comes from my natural surroundings, and is further enhanced by the beauty of the glass in its molten state. I am fortunate to have found work that I love and that allows me to be creative."
"I don't know if I chose glass, or it chose me," Robert Burch muses. The two met dramatically in the late 1960's when glassblowing was still new as a re-emerging craft. While visiting at Penland School of Arts and Crafts, Burch ventured out for an evening
walk in the surrounding North Carolina woods. "I came upon a little cabin with a roar coming out of it and a strange glow in its windows," he almost whispers, remembering. "I looked in the door, and there was this guy blowing glass. I was stunned! The magic, the sensuality, the energy of that moving, molten glass! From that moment on, my purpose was to get as close to glass as I could."
And so he has. A chance opportunity to simultaneously learn and teach glassblowing at Goddard College led the former production potter from clay to glass. By 1978, Burch had moved his first glassblowing studio in Plainfield, Vermont to its current home in a 200-year-old Putney barn.
Brandywine Glassworks now supplies over 200 shops and galleries nationwide with exquisite vases, perfume bottles, paperweights, and sculptures, each handblown by Burch. Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Neiman-Marcus have been among his clients.
Watching Burch in action explains his conscious choice not to further expand his thriving business.
Clearly it's a venture or perhaps a dance in which Burch and glass are the closest of partners. His every muscle keeps pace with the fiery substance he cajoles into shape. A twist here, a light touch there, a breath, a moment's rest. A master is at work here, following the lead offered by glass heated to over 2,000 degrees.
Occasionally, the roles are reversed. "Sometimes I feel like a tool the glass is using," he exclaims between precise puffs on his long pipe.
So intimate is his relationship with each piece, that Burch claims he can easily identify his work from years past. In his first five years as a professional, he produced over 10,000 items.
"If you lose contact with the glass, you lose your potential for creative growth," he adds emphatically.
This is not the voice of a potential paperpusher. To separate Burch from glass and the process he so obviously loves would be a tragedy. In this case, small is indeed very beautiful.