Meet Your Maker Monday: Mark Roland
I first met Mark Roland almost twenty years ago, when we worked at the same advertising agency. He was a print production manager and I was in the production studio. We reconnected recently through a mutual friend and MYMM profile who I had asked for referrals of other people to cover for this series. When he gave me Mark's name as someone working in glass, I had to call and see what my former coworker was doing with his craft.
What is your name, company, URL, and social media links?
My name is Mark Roland; the company name is Roland Glass. I'm not real big on using social media in order to protect my designs. Now that I've finally decided a direction to stick with, that will soon change and I'll have to do a formal web site and pump my work.
What do you make?
I make fused glass at high temperatures in an effort to separate me from a lot of other people who work glass. I've decided to make wall lights, table lamps, and table tops for the most part and a few large bowls, and stay in that vein for a while, and of course flowers to put on your walls.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day is cutting glass to put in the ovens, taking it out and cold working the glass to finish its look. Cold working is hours spent truing up the sides or making it round, hand sanding the edges, and putting it back in the ovens for a final fire polishing. The cold work part is where you really make or sometimes break the piece, and if that happens (and it does), you now have new pieces to start over with that seem to come out better than the first plan you had.
Why did you decide to start your own business and why Houston?
Starting my business in Houston was easy for me because I'm from here and I love the city. After getting a little burned out with the printing and advertising business, I was really looking at opening a small bar or making art of some kind. Stumbling on to fused glass work, I fell in love with it because it's like painting with oils once you take it to a molting stage. Plus my wife didn't much care for me spending any more time in a bar than I was already – her advice for me was please make it good and make it fast. I could have never been able to make this change in my life without her help and support of the effort.
What are your inspirations and how do they guide your work?
My inspirations are a love of color I got from being in the printing business for so long and working on a press for a few years at the start of my career and using black, blue, red, and yellow to get any color you needed. A lot of my pulled work looks very close to what happens when you would mix inks together to get a certain Pantone color. The marks left behind from the putty knife mixing up different colors I sometimes sold as abstract art. I like a lot of color – the more the better – it always seems to make people smile.
What's next for Roland Glass?
Just work the plan – as my niece told me – make a plan and work the plan. If the plan doesn’t work you may see me at an intersection tapping on your car window trying to interest you in a fine piece of glass work, we'll see. I don’t believe that will ever happen, but you never know.
What do you want people to know about your work?
I'd like people to know my work is mine when they see it because of the color choices or the finish, or just think to themselves, they've never seen a piece of fused glass like that before. A lot of people think it's blown glass because of the flow of colors from pulling through it.