Friendly Fire, a speciality store with hand-blown glass, gives patrons a front-row seat as searing hot temperatures remake glass into art.
Mason Overbey creates necklaces, jars, marbles, Christmas ornaments, pendants and pipes in his newly opened store on the 200 block of Seventh Street South in downtown Brainerd. He’s often working with 2,000-degree temperatures. But he has a passion for melting glass. A window in the store lets customers get a full view of his studio and the process of melting glass and molding its shape and color.
Overbey moved to the Brainerd area from St. Cloud, where he had a studio in his garage. Space was tighter after moving north so Overbey looked for a studio. He found one on the 200 block of South Seventh Street.
The store includes handmade jewelry and quilts. And it has photos from Adam Brown Photography. Overbey first became interested in the art when he ran into a friend at a music fest.
“It gave me the initiative to do it,” he said.
The self-taught artist traded skills, passing on his ability for fire spinning to learn from a glass artist. Overbey said he’s his own biggest critic. He keeps his first hand-blown glass piece in his studio. But the work has definitely progressed from that clear glass shape. Now, Overbey said he’s happy to show his work to other glass artists.
Along the way he said the biggest challenge is learning how to read the glass and the temperature in order to keep the temperature even. He works on projects for 20 minutes or four hours depending on the piece.
“I just love this stuff,” he said. “It’s definitely a skill not getting burned.”
In the future, Overbey would like to add a photo studio with his partnership effort with Brown, a coffee shop and WiFi to Friendly Fire. The father of a 2-year-old daughter, he said he wants to have a family focus.