Bee Kingdom Glass: Calgary’s Glassblowers
Sometimes one stumbles on a hidden gem when you’re least expecting it. This was our experience when we happened to find ourselves in the northwest neighbourhood of Mt Pleasant one Sunday afternoon. We happened upon a sign that advertised a local glassblowing studio. A quick Google search of the studio confirmed that it was closed on Sundays, but since we were in the neighbourhood we figured we’d at least pinpoint where the location was for future reference. We’re so glad we did, because on that Sunday they happened to be open!
Christa and I cautiously ventured into the home-converted-to-a-studio and were welcomed by snacks, a hot apple cider and freedom to peruse the glassware on display. Bee Kingdom Glass is a collaborative studio collective owned and run by long-time friends and ACAD (Alberta College of Art and Design) graduates, Ryan Fairweather and Phillip Bandura. Their displays throughout the various rooms of the simple home give visitors a sense of their unique, eclectic and vibrant works of art. Evading mass-production, the often-quirky pieces are the creation of artists whose works have been displayed in numerous locations around the world and even been sought out by some celebrities.
It wasn’t too long after our arrival at the studio that we were told that Ryan and Phillip were about to commence with a live demonstration in their workshop. We were not going to pass up on this unexpected opportunity. We had front-row seats to the one-hour demonstration. The masters began blowing their skilled magic into the glowing globule of silica that would eventually emerge into a substantial, gorgeous vase. Sadly, it would only enjoy a short life as the base cracked moments before completing the creation, rendering it wasted. None the less it was a treat to see the men-behind-the-work at work, complimenting one another in a seemingly choreographed workshop dance, just like worker bees hurriedly yet skillfully playing their part.
Watch Phillip and Ryan create “the vase that never was” in our edited YouTube video.
Participate in a glassblowing class.
Commission a custom piece of glassware.
Discover more about their speciality pieces.
Shop their online store.