This time on Set and Setting, Ben Belgrad joins Madison Margolin to talk about flow-states, glassblowing, and more.
Ben Belgrad is a multi-media artist who specializes in glass flameworking. He began blowing glass over a decade ago while in college and has spent the last ten years developing his skills and building his business. Through his company Drinking Vessels, Belgrad represents over 50 artists making handmade drinkware. His studio is based in the mountains of Colorado near Vail, where he creates his art and distributes handmade cups for many of the top glass pipe makers in the world, along with artists of other mediums. He is using his platform to promote the glass pipe art movement and share that underground art movement with the masses. In his free time, you can find Belgrad snowboarding at Vail or working on his art, while most of his time is spent curating and collaborating with the artists he represents.
Ben’s Path to Ram Dass and Glass
Ben Belgrad grew up feeling like an outsider. He explored psychedelics in highschool on his own and was gifted Be Here Now by his mother in college. He ended up doing a book report on Be Here Now for a class on leisure and became enamored with the book. Ben elaborates on some of his psychedelic experiences, describing one where he felt called to jump into a fire. Years later, Ben won a glass bong on 4/20. In an act of fate, he was able to meet the artist who made it and learn to blow glass himself. He was able to fulfill his inner urge to be in the fire while blowing glass.
For an informative podcast on the element of fire check out Ep. 27 of Living with Reality: Sight, Fire, & Possession Pt. II
There are many avenues to enter into a state of flow. For some of us, the act of repeition when we do our morning prayer puts us into the flow. For others, moving our bodies without thought for how silly we look puts us into the flow. Ben describes how he gets into his flow-state by playing music and gazing into the nature that surrounds his art studio. Ben says that he can feel himself entering that flow and becomming one with the glass as he stares into molton hot liquid turning in meditative circles. Being able to endure and embrace the heat is a part of producing his form of artwork. The more he focuses on the process, the more at ease his mind and body feels. How do you get into the flow?
“This experience of the music, my space around me, the visuals, the art on the walls, the mountains outside the window, the smell of incense and marijuana, all culminates with me being one with the glass.” – Ben Belgrad
Check out Ep. 10 of Set and Setting for more on this topic of flow and altered states: Music, Laughter, & Altered States
A Metaphor for Life (46:49)
Madison and Ben discuss embodying the be here now mindset and how acts of getting into the flow become greater metaphors for life. When we are snowboarding and feel only the rush of snow and zooming down a mountain, we can take what we learned and be more present in the moment with family. When we are meditating on the movement of fire and in tune with how we feel one, we can go out into the world and witness this everywhere.