Local Glass Blower Turns Passion Into Profit

Dan Neff is What You Might Call a True Artisan

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Dan Neff is what you might call a true artisan.

“What I’ve come to find out with glass is it takes 10,000 hours to master some skill set or technique,” Neff said.

For the last twelve years, he’s dedicated his time to blowing glass.

“I started blowing glass when I was 17 years old,” Neff explains. “I got an apprenticeship with another artist and I apprenticed for about three years learning the basics. Probably about two years into that I realized I had this desire to master something in my life.”

And for three years Neff has been blowing glass in downtown Duluth, right on Superior Street.

“2011 came around and the Greater Downtown Council offered their Great Space Giveaway,” Neff said. “Long story short, I was one of the winners of that contest. And that gave me the drive to go ahead and open this business.”

His business is more pleasure than work.

He sits long hours at his station with five-thousand degree heat molding each glass rod into a work of art.

“You really only have gravity to work with,” Neff said. “It’s yourself and gravity, you can either work with gravity or you can work against it.”

Lake Superior Art Glass is both a shop and a gallery for blown glass.

Dan’s true passion is making marbles.

“Marbles I make for myself,” he says. “I make a lot of other things for other galleries or other people, things that sell well, but marbles I make mainly for myself.”

The marbles have intricate designs that remind you of outer space, or under the sea.

But his best sellers are jewelry – specifically glass pendants.

“They’ve actually traveled to all seven continents, and about twenty countries around the world,” Neff recalls with a smile. “It’s really neat and rewarding to be able to make something that people have such a connection to around the world.”

Blowing glass takes time, patience, and an artistic nature that few people will ever achieve, which is something than Dan Neff understands very well.

“I’ve always had that drive to work harder,” Neff says. “If there’s something I want to achieve, I just have to put in more time.”

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