- Tofino Activities, Tofino Artisans, Tofino Events

Blown Away at Spirit of the Fire Glass Studio

If you’ve never seen glass blowing in action, there’s something about watching molten glass being shaped and changed with colour at around 2000 degrees that’s almost hypnotizing.  Glass meets rain forest at the Spirit of the Fire Glass Studio where local Tofino artist Sol Maya plays with fire.  Given the main ingredient in glass is sand, Sol has plenty of natural resources to draw from.

More on Sol to follow, but first here are some facts that will make you look twice at your wine glass:

  • One of the oldest forms of art, glass dates back 3500+ years to pre-Roman times when only pharaohs, high priests and nobles owned it. 
  • By the 12th century, the Catholic Church was gaining power and glass production was all about coloured glass for stained glass windows and rosary beads. 
  • By the 17th century, coveted fine Venetian glassware really put glass on the map, evolving to drinking glasses and flower vases by the late 1800’s.
  • In 1903, an automatic bottle-blowing machine started making millions of light bulbs a day. 
  • It was also the early 20th century when Parisian artists Rouseau and Galle started the Art Nouveau style used in glass that even caught Tiffany’s attention – yes, the jewelry store that originated in New York. 
  • American popularity took off and by 1960 the studio glass movement was in full swing with glass artists working in their own studios; quickly spreading to Europe, Australia and Asia.

Fast forward to 1980 when Tofino’s Sol Maya discovered his love for glass blowing.  A Canadian with Native American roots, he was studying ceramics and sculpting in Santa Barbara, California but between classes, it was watching the glass blowers that really caught his attention.  He tried it, loved it and before long was running the glass studio at the college and became actively involved in the local art scene.

After moving to Vancouver in 1992 and working with a master glass blower on Granville Island, Sol eventually made Tofino his home opening the Sprit of the Fire Studio & Gallery.  His love of surfing and the ocean as well as a passion for the solar system continue to inspire his work.

In addition to private collections, Sol’s glass has been exhibited at galleries all over BC and in California and New Mexico.  For an even closer look at his artistry, the Sprit of the Fire Studio is located just down the road from Pacific Sands so be sure to swing by next time you stay with us.  And if you’re really lucky, Sol will have the blowpipe going in The Glory Hole.  Yes you read that right – check out Sol's website for more on glass blowing equipment, tools and terms.

Staying with us this weekend?  You’ll also find Sol at the Winter Celebration Artisan Festival this Saturday, Dec 1 from 10am to 4pm at the Tofino Community Hall.  A beautiful showcase of inspired west coast artists, artisans, foodsmiths and more, it’s a fun way to treat yourself to a take-home piece of Tofino.