BY SOPHIE BIRD
Volta Glass Studio owner Ryan Hoffman traces his fascination with glass back to a childhood bag of marbles. He says his favorites were clear, with a swirl of color in the middle and, although he never imagined learning to make them, they captivated him.
In 1998, at a glass studio in Newburgh, Indiana, Hoffman was formally introduced to the art form that would become his career. “I was in college at the time, going to school for business, so I really didn’t anticipate it turning into anything more,” he says.
After his time at the Newburgh studio, Hoffman, 39, spent the next dozen years working from home studios in Bloomington and Brown County, selling his work to small local shops and galleries.
Then, in 2010, he opened Volta. “I was interested in getting a proper outlet for the work,” Hoffman says. “That’s really the bigger idea of this whole place, in a sense. It’s to allow people to come in and see a working studio and see how things are created.”
Hoffman took six months to renovate the Volta studio at 405 W. 6th St., turning it into a fully equipped workspace. From a window in the display room, customers can watch as Hoffman and five coworkers create everything from $20 pendant jewelry to decanters plated with silver and gold valued at more than $1,500. The shop sells its wares in approximately 120 galleries in 30 states, though Hoffman says his goal now is to reign that in so customers are drawn to Volta in Bloomington where he and his coworkers can better showcase their work.
“Everyone here has worked through an apprenticeship and has come to fruition as an independent artist,” Hoffman says of his coworkers, four of whom he trained himself.
Customers can also commission one-of-a-kind glass creations. “It makes it that much more personal,” Hoffman says. “People actually get to be a part of what is being created.”
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Check out this photo gallery of Volta’s studio. (Photos by Dene Stephens and Rodney Margison)