In 1973, in the early days of the American Glass Studio Movement, the local art glass factory Uroboros Glass was born. Traditionally, glass was a substance suited for commercial production only, demanding the infrastructure of a large industrial plant. All that changed in the 1960’s when craftsmen began to make strides in developing small scale glass studios for individual artists. What followed was a very exciting time in the history of the medium of glass, when independent artists with access to these studios (mostly in universities around the U.S.) began to experiment and create one-of-a-kind objects of their own.
Uroboros Founder and President Eric Lovell, was one of those early pioneers. Lovell is a local Oregonian whose glassmaking roots can be traced back to a hot shop at Portland State University, where he learned how to work with the material. Over the past 40 years his passion and expertise has grown into a booming business located right here in the Lower Albina/Eliot Neighborhood. Now some 40 men and women at Uroboros Glass push the limits of technology and traditional handmade craftsmanship to produce the most unique and creative glass styles to be found anywhere.
The word ‘Uroboros’ is an ancient term often represented by a dragon or serpent with its tail in its mouth. This symbol represents “an endless cycle of renewal” or life everlasting. The company name honors the traditions of stained glass history and lore of medieval alchemists as they struggled to turn non-precious lead into precious gold. Today, Uroboros uses non-precious sand to make some of the most precious hand-cast art glass available in the world.
Uroboros Glass is an industry leader as a manufacturer of high quality glass including specialty Art Glass, System 96, FX90 and URO104 for the discerning kiln forming, torch work, cold working, mosaic and stained glass artist. They develop precise custom colors and products. Their product line includes sheets, rods, frit, noodles, stringer, casting billets and rocks in a myriad of colors and textures that are sold worldwide. Uroboros also offers a range of classes taught by world-renowned glass artists. From beginners eager to learn the basics to the more advanced level students looking to hone their craft, there is a class for everyone.
As a good neighbor, Uroboros strives to minimize the environmental impact of their glass production activities. They’ve made efforts to minimize waste, reuse and recycle energy, water, and materials in many ways, and choose environment-friendly packaging whenever possible. In fact, they were qualified as a ‘Green Company’ by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability in 2011, and earned Portland’s Sustainability at Work Silver Certification in 2012.
Should you find yourself nearby, stop in and say hello! Uroboros Glass is located at 2181 N. Kerby Ave. Portland, OR 97227. Take a factory tour and see the glassmaking in action. Or for a more hands-on experience, sign up for one of their classes and join in the fun.
By Kristin Solomon