Ornamental Mementos

By Katie Faulkner | Photos Provided by Ignis Glass Studio
Chris Mosey patiently worked his way to opening Ignis Glass Studio in the heart of downtown Chattanooga five years ago. While he treasures the ability to live by his art, his patrons stop in to create their own treasures. Locals and tourists alike are drawn to the hands-on experience of casting dazzling and unique ornamental mementos.

Mosey discovered his love of glass blowing after taking several art classes, from photography to ceramics, at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee. After graduating he moved to Chattanooga. “I think this community really supports the arts,” he says. After living here just a few years, he decided to open his own place, Ignis Glass Studio, in 2001. With a business plan to make glass blowing approachable to anyone, Ignis affords customers the opportunity to create their own unique blown-glass pieces with the help of a skilled glass blower.

After opening, Mosey says he realized one of his biggest challenges. “I really wasn’t a business person. I was an artist, and so I suddenly found myself in this gray area between being creative and being business minded. One of the most challenging things was just figuring out what would sell,” Mosey recalls.

From 2010 to 2012, Mosey had the chance to sharpen his business mogul teeth. “The recession, terrible as it was, actually provided some down time, in which I took a business class that led to a big boost for the studio,” he explains. Mosey worked on a class project that focused on Ignis’s glass ornaments. “I knew they were really popular around the holiday season, so the plan I created incorporated them throughout the year.” The plan showed how profitable and popular their ornaments were, so Mosey decided to implement it and have ornaments available year-round. “I found what sold!” he says.

Soon thereafter, in 2012, after having their shop first on Carter Street across from UTC’s Finley Stadium and then in the Southside for four years, Ignis finally relocated to their current home on Broad Street. “It was a great move for us! We really love this space, and foot traffic and tourism have increased our business exponentially. It’s become really popular for all kinds of group events too. We get everything from corporate team building to girls’ night out groups. It’s been a blast!”

Patrons stopping in for a unique hands-on glass blowing experience are led through a very organized method. First, you choose an option between three different ornament styles and three different paperweight styles. After selecting your shape, one of the glass blowers takes you to the hot room to select your colors. They help you fire your chosen glass shape in the 2000° furnace. You roll your hot glass in your chosen colors and blow your ornament or paperweight with your own breath.

New additions to their product options have Mosey excited about the future too. “We’ve just started working with cremains, so people can encapsulate loved ones’ or pets’ ashes in a unique work of art. It’s new and different and we’re trying to make sure we do it really well to help people honor their loved ones.”

But glass blowing has already been a popular way for people to create not only memories, but also meaningful gifts and mementos. “I’ll never forget one customer’s request. She had terminal cancer and she came in to blow ornaments for each one of her family members so they would all have one of her captured breaths after she was gone,” Mosey recalls. “Her family still comes in from time to time actually.”

For Mosey, the beauty of owning his own glass blowing studio is multifaceted. “Now that we have several of our methods down pretty well, I have a lot more time than I used to for working on my own creations. I just keep them here rather than doing galleries, but it’s nice to be able to work on them,” he shares. He also says there’s nothing that can replace the happiness that comes from working with a small, tight-knit group of people. “They’re like a second family, so working with them every day is an opportunity that I don’t take for granted.”

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