“You can’t have one without the other.”
See how the artist Hayden MacRae and fascapple glass came to be.
Passion strikes in curious ways. For Hayden, it was a Rupert the Bear story his gramma Betty read to him as a young boy. Rupert’s visit to a glass factory sparked an interest in glassblowing that stuck with Hayden. Add the wonders learned at the first workshop he attended at age 13, along with years of training and experience gained at local glassblowing studios, and you have the beginnings of it all.
Today, fascapple glass is a dynamic family-run business co-founded by Hayden, William and Ian MacRae and Lydia Avery. Hayden MacRae original works and fascapple glass home décor can be found across Canada, the United States, and in England and France. Each piece reflects the imagination, skill, and character of our Calgary studio, which opened in 2020.
With our technical capabilities and, as the only public glassblowing studio in Western Canada, our 2,000-square-foot Calgary facility is an important platform for professional and hobbyist glass artists from throughout Alberta, British Columbia, and the United States.
Talking about facapple glass means talking about the great ongoing support of family, friends, clients, gallery owners and members of the glass community. We’re grateful to the people who believe in Hayden’s work and the exciting future we’re building.
People often ask about our name. It’s a nod to the importance of honouring one’s roots and community. Fascapple is the name of the small croft in Scotland’s highlands where John MacRae—Hayden’s paternal grandfather—grew up. It’s a truly beautiful place. Similarly you’ll see we’re dedicated to creating beauty and joy—from the details of a small glass to large vessels that trip the light fantastic to teaching folks how to blow glass.
At fascapple glass, hard work, curiosity, discipline, respect, and kindness go into making people smile. They are the values behind every piece we make, every conversation we have. That’s a bit about us. More importantly, we’d like to know: How can we help you today? Contact us . . .
It’s a family affair
Fascapple owners and founders: Lydia Avery, Ian MacRae, Will MacRae and Hayden MacRae.
It takes a team to keep the studio humming for artists, students and clients alike. It takes a team to create fascapple glass home décor and many of the original works. Here are some of the versatile artists who are familiar faces at fascapple glass.
“As with life, you can create a second chance with glass.”
Co-founder and lead artist, Hayden’s work sings with colour, movement, texture and light. At times, pieces show a painter’s perspective. When not creating, Hayden is teaching or managing the studio.
How would you sum up blowing glass?
Creating a blown glass piece is like living a life unto itself. You must be committed physically and mentally. The process can demand patience, present twists and turns, disappointments, and highs.
How did you develop your skills?
I took a more apprentice-like route studying and practicing at studios in and around Calgary. I credit internationally recognized artists such as Tyler Rock, Julia Reimer, the late Jim Norton, Barry Fairbairn and Ryan Fairweather with helping me develop as a glass artist.
How would you describe your work today?
There are some common themes that run throughout the larger works. I’m focusing a lot on the interplay of colour, motion, texture and welcoming shapes. Some pieces are inspired by the sculptural landscape, clarity and colours of southern Utah, where I spent time some years ago. Some draw on my fondness for video games and the dynamic use of colour in that medium. I also continue to enjoy applying the classic Italian “incalmo” technique, which involves stacking colours while maintaining a distinct separation between them. To a certain degree, my work is inspired by watching and absorbing the world of glass unfold over the past 20 years.
Similar creative themes can be found running throughout the various home décor pieces produced by fascapple glass. There’s an underlying point to fascapple glass work. It’s all made with beauty and purpose in mind.
As a co-founder of fascapple glass, how would you describe daily life at the studio?
Opening during COVID-19 was tough. But as the pandemic has evolved so has our business. Today, life involves a rewarding, demanding mix of duties from managing the equipment to ensuring our rental clients—professional and hobbyist artists—can accomplish what they want on each slot, to teaching people who are experiencing glassblowing for the first time. It’s certainly never boring. We’re very appreciative of the great community of artists and clients with whom we work. I’ve learned, however, to be disciplined about carving out time to focus on creating my work—it’s always on my mind.
Carli’s passion for glass has taken her to the Maldives—where she completed a Soneva Glass Studio internship—and back. A graduate of Alberta College of Art +Design, Carli teaches, helps create work for us and pursues her own artistic practice.
What got you started blowing glass?
As a very young child, I received a glass necklace as a gift. By the time I was a teenager, I was adorned with as much glass as I could afford at the time. I knew early on that I wanted to be a glassblower and worked at convincing myself that it wasn’t the best choice for building my future. I did go to university and, though I did well, quickly transferred to Alberta College of Art + Design in 2008. I had to take a chance on my dreams.
What keeps you blowing glass?
Glassblowing is a challenging medium with endless techniques to master. It’s a perfect marriage of mind and body. You must keep all the process steps in order and execute them with precision from start to finish. You need to be on your toes as things can do sideways quickly and often do. You have to be flexible enough to react to the glass and problem solve when things don’t go as planned. It’s like a meditative practice; all your focus is in the moment.
What do you enjoy about teaching people?
Everyone starts off a little nervous and, as time progresses, you can see how much confidence people gain over a short period of time. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of the history and how traditional aspects of this craft have influenced the modern practice and community. Glass is truly mesmerizing and it’s exciting to see people gain an informed understanding of the possibilities with this material.
What kind of work do you like to do?
There are two parts to my artistic practice. There’s the desire to hone my technical skills and apply these abilities to production wares. I love the act of breaking down the process of items and seeing the desired result come out in a consistent manner.
I also appreciate the inherent properties of glass. Exploring the possibilities within glass and personalizing items with my aesthetic choices. Having the ability to play with pattern, colour, and textures in glass. This is achieved through sculpting processes, pattern bar or murrini tiles and coldworking processes such as engraving, sandblasting, and kiln-forming.
There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.
—Franklin D. Roosevelt
Doing our part
You don’t have to be a big company to take social responsibilities seriously.
Moving forward with COVID-19
For instance, opening in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been on the frontlines of helping to keep our clients and the studio healthy. As the ebb and flow of COVID-19 unfolds, we’re adjusting our measures to the conditions and appreciate everyone’s understanding and help. We’ll continue to post updates on any COVID-19 related changes at the studio.
Starting with small steps
We were literally involved in building the studio from the ground up. As a new business on a tight budget, we’ve always looked for small and meaningful ways to manage our environmental footprint—from choosing a water-efficient toilet to the sourcing of environmentally friendly paper towels, to reusing and repurposing equipment. Today, for example, we’re working with other glass artists to recycle our used glass. We’re looking at ways to enhance the operation of our existing equipment and towards purchasing new equipment in the future. Our operating assumption: We can always do better.
We’re a young company with ideas on how to support the community. We’re already quietly contributing to initiatives such as the fORM golf tournament and their commitment to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, the Calgary branch of Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Calgary Centre for Suicide Prevention.
We’re looking forward to introducing new initiatives over time.