In 1994 Matt Paskiet officially began his glass education leaving behind the world of construction management. Starting with encouragement from his father and continuing to working with some of the biggest names in glass working, Paskiet talks about the involvement of family and passion in being where he is today.
Light filters in through large windows shining through the multicolor glass on shelves around the room, painting patterns on every surface. The sound of the radio and laughter pushes through a door in the back of the gallery. Through this door, the hum of fluorescents and the roar of fire takes over. In the far corner works Matt Paskeit negotiating with molten glass to create one of the many pieces for which he’s known.
Glass working is a compromise between the vision of the artist and the fluidity of the glass itself. “It’s this agreement where the glass is going to go.” Says Paskeit. “Glass never forgets when you touch it or do something to it.”
“[My dad] was the one who taught me how to enjoy making things with my hands.” Recounting a story from earlier in his life “he’d give me some glass to mess with and I’d be cutting glass. I can still remember running up the stairs and being ‘look mom… I had to cut this piece and solder it here and this and that…’”
His father supported his passion from the beginning, according to Paskeit, and would go on to buy Matt’s first glass blowing lesson at the Toledo Museum of Art.
The museum gave him the moment where he knew glassblowing would be his life.“It was my first night of independent blow time [at the museum] and I wanted to try all this stuff I hadn’t tried before, [and] I remember having this piece in the glory hole, it getting all whacked out of shape and it falling on the floor… I grabbed a punty and picked it up and I saved it… it looked like a bruised kidney. As I’m sitting there nursing this piece to health by myself I think ‘man I cannot picture myself NOT doing this.’”
After working for a number of glass artists in 2002, with the help of his father, Matt Paskeit opened Firenation Glass in Holland. “He helped me with setting up the building… we put the annealers together. I built the furnace with him.”
His father’s involvement continued into the opening, Matt jokes about his father’s frequent visits to the shop “you’re like oh crap what does dad want today?” He says he did not realize at the time was “[He is] just curious about what you’re doing… He loves you and wants you to succeed.” “I was growing up still.” He says and “I’d give anything to have him walk through that door again.
Despite the passing of his father, Paskeit still feels his presence in the building. “I still hear him today. I have some project where I’m like I don’t know if I can do it, and I feel him going you can do it…do it.” Looking around the gallery space he says. “Everywhere I look, his fingerprints are on it. It’s comforting.”
Paskeit sees his father an example to aspire to “he had such a passion and it showed through.” “Still to the last he was generous and giving. He was instrumental in all our successes.”
Through his father and his own passion, Paskeit built the life he has. He said “I don’t feel like I have a job, I have a life. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. It’s kind of my identity.” He follows with, “I consider myself the most fortunate person I know.