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Terry Bloodworth and son Gabriel Bloodworth work side-by-side at Springfield Hot Glass. The elder Bloodworth opened the studio in 2003 and is grooming Gabriel as his successor.
Terry Bloodworth and son Gabriel Bloodworth work side-by-side at Springfield Hot Glass. The elder Bloodworth opened the studio in 2003 and is grooming Gabriel as his successor.

Business Spotlight: Hot Glass, Cool Art

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Gone are the days Terry Bloodworth lived atop a Stone County mountain and created glassworks at Silver Dollar City.

He traded in that life eight years ago for a downtown Springfield loft and his own glass-blowing studio.

Bloodworth, and his wife, Julie, opened Springfield Hot Glass in 2003 at 314 S. Campbell Ave. From the shop’s hardwood floor to its pressed tin ceiling, the building speaks to Springfield’s past. Three days a week, Bloodworth and crew mold glass out of a mixture of sand, soda and lime using a heat box raised to 2,200 degrees Farenheit.

Bloodworth aimed to expose center city to the art of glass blowing when he opened.

“We had noticed that downtown Springfield was showing signs of not only a revival, but an artistic revival, and we were interested in taking part in that,” says Terry Bloodworth, 26-year veteran at Silver Dollar City. “I simply wanted the opportunity to have a little more control over what I was doing, and I wanted the opportunity to work with my son.

“We thought, if you’re going to make a change, make a change.”

A ‘constant fixture’
Work at the studio has been a stabilizing fixture for the Bloodworth family and for downtown.

Working side-by-side with his father has been rewarding for Gabriel Bloodworth.

“Throughout my adolescence, throughout my rebellious period, the glass and the work has been a very constant fixture in our lives,” says Gabriel Bloodworth, 27. “It’s one of the reasons I stay in Springfield. We put a tremendous amount of hard work and sweat and toil into the studio.”

At age 22, Bloodworth began showing promise as a glass blower when he and his father were working in a garage studio, Terry Bloodworth says.

That promise has grown into acclaim. Gabriel Bloodworth in July completed Blow Glass at Sea, an artist-in-residency program sponsored by Corning Museum of Glass. The program allows artists to work on cruise ships for three months. Bloodworth will set sail through the program again this year in late April through mid-July.

“It’s given him the opportunity to be trained by some of the best glass artists in the Western hemisphere,” Terry Bloodworth says.

Glass blowing has become Gabriel Bloodworth’s passion, as it did for his father.

“I discovered after working in the glass shop at Silver Dollar City that I loved the environment,” Terry Bloodworth says. “I loved the fact that every day is a new day.”

The business side
It’s sometimes difficult for Bloodworth and his son to think about balancing the books at the end of the day.

“We’re not terribly good businesspeople. That’s not my main objective,” says Gabriel Bloodworth, who’s next in line to run the shop. “I don’t wake up every morning and think, ‘Oh, man, I can change this and drum up all this new business.’ It’s always about the work; it’s always about the glass. As a second thought, you’ve got to think, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got to sell this stuff.’”

Even though Bloodworth and his staff have not pursued business education courses, he says he realizes the courses’ importance and would consider them.

Training is available through SCORE, Springfield-Greene County Library District, Urban Districts Alliance and University of Missouri-Greene County Extension. At www.thelibrary.springfield.missouri.org, the library offers articles and tips produced by its business department.

Small-business counselors at SCORE advise veteran and new small-business owners, said John McKearney, SCORE’s counselor in charge of recruiting and training. SCORE offers one-on-one mentoring and workshops in conjunction with Ozarks Technical Community College.

“We have workshops conducted five times a year,” McKearney says, noting the next Fast Track workshops, for existing business owners, are scheduled in February and April. The workshops cover marketing strategy, Internet marketing, understanding financial statements and developing a business plan.

About 80 percent of Springfield Hot Glass’ revenue – $125,000 in 2010 – is in sales of seasonal glass items such as Christmas ornaments, and floral, heart or pumpkin decorations. Other sales are in home décor and jewelry items, such as earrings, pendants and bracelets, always available in the store.

“We are so much more oriented toward the glass and the work, we have to really work for the other side, the business part of it,” Gabriel Bloodworth says. “And it’s just as important as any of the work you put out there. It’s really important that we recognize our weak spots just as much as our strengths.”[[In-content Ad]]

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