Editor’s note: Kevin and Dave roamed Bruce Randolph Avenue and talked to most everyone they saw. Every day during Street Week, we’re rolling out mini profiles of the everyday heroes they found. Find more here.
A humming oven glows jack-o-lantern orange. A ball of soft glass, on the end of a blowpipe, enters into it. If the fire flinches, you can’t tell. Maybe because it’s been burning at 2,100 degrees for two years straight. See, the type of heat you need to shape glass comes from a steady build. A little bit of natural gas goes a long way when it’s feeding a fire that burns 24/7.
“The key to all of the glass equipment is you have layers of insulation,” says Nate Steinbrink, co-owner of Flux Studio, a glass-blowing space on Bruce Randolph Avenue. “So you can put a little energy in over a long period of time and build up that heat.”
Flux itself is a new layer on an old street. The glass-blowing studio is part of a new wave of businesses on Bruce Randolph, and the concept is pretty novel. It’s part of a development that includes a similarly newish cafe, Rivers and Roads Coffee, with a home on top. Steinbrink lives there with his wife, Cortney Boyd, who co-owns the studio.
“It was an area that was a little, probably under-utilized, under-developed,” Steinbrink said. “And so by bringing this here, it was really giving, hopefully, this community a jewel of something to find. You know, something unique and something out of the ordinary.”
It’s not the first time this corner lot at Elizbeth Street housed a mashup. There was once an all-in-one restaurant and tire store. A candy shop and a Standard Oil gas station have also occupied the lot.
Steinbrink said he and his wife picked the location because “it felt really like a neighborhood.” There’s a plaza where neighbors meet and chat and can watch glass-blowing artists do their work. And they do.
“That has been fun, watching the neighbors come in and interact with us, buy sculptures from us, you know, utilize the coffee shop and the courtyard we’ve made here,” Steinbrink said. “So we’re real proud of it and really happy that people are really utilizing it, enjoying it.”
Turns out there’s a glass-blowing faction in Denver, and Flux is one of its hangouts. Around 15 artists use the studio for their own work, which they sell at their own shops or on Instagram or Etsy. Some teach classes at Flux.
As for Steinbrink, he is an artist, but he sells more functional stuff as well.
“There’s probably a bigger market for beer glasses than there are for wall sculptures,” he said. “So I make a few wall sculptures for every, you know, 10 beer glasses.”