Zion Warne’s mercurial art illuminates Garden City’s arts community.
By Kirk Walton
Photography by Copper Chadwick
Zion Warne is a local Boisean with an unusual passion – he transforms scorching hot glass into exotic works of art. He’s been blowing glass for almost two decades, and he says he never gets tired of it. Warne moved to the Boise area at the age of six and enjoyed an artistic childhood. Once he graduated from high school, he decided to continue on to pottery school where he discovered the medium of glass.
“Glass is just so much more exciting and lively. It’s always moving around.” Warne says, as he describes the beauty of the glass as it flows and takes on new shapes under the skilled touch of the sculptor. Blowing glass is not for the faint of heart, however. Temperatures in the glass shop can get as high as 138 degrees, and moving the various parts around is very physically demanding. Warne explains that glass blowing is a hybrid between sport and art.
After completing his apprenticeship, and owning a shop in Robie Creek for several years, Warne and his family relocated to Boise and started Zion Warne Studios in Garden City. Most of his time in the shop is spent doing contract work for companies like Rocky Mountain Hardware, where he makes everything from grandiose chandeliers to humble light fixtures. And while he wishes he had more time to work on his own sculptures, he loves the creativity of his job.
In the little downtime he has, Warne has started teaching glass blowing classes to share his love for glass with the community. The classes have been popular: “Couples love it. I have people of all ages and backgrounds come in to experience glass blowing,” says Warne on his new classes. These classes are generally two hours in length, and no experience or materials are required. After each class is completed, every student goes home with a completed glass item they made themselves. The most common projects are simple bowls, glasses, or vases, but he enjoys teaching everything. “My favorite thing about the workshops is seeing people’s attitude change. They come in a little scared, but when they leave, they always have a huge smile on their face. I love that,” he says.
Boise’s retail art establishments still have room for growth, but Warne says the attitude that the locals have here is one of great interest and excitement, which explains the popularity of his classes. Warne’s shop is located on Fenton Street, which is just off Chinden between 52nd and 49th Streets. He offers tours to the public and gives several different levels of glass-blowing instructional workshops. Tours and classes are offered by appointment only; you can drop in and make an appointment most days. In the Boise area, you can find some of Warne’s work in the R Grey Gallery, Lisk Gallery, Art of Framing Gallery, Hyde Park Gallery, or Spotlight Gallery.
For more information about the art of glass blowing, visit his website at http://www.zionartglass.com.