An effervescent cascade of white glass bubbles intermixed with delicate glass teardrops flows down from the ceiling in front of a crimson wall. The 14 feet of dynamic handblown glass pieces illuminated and suspended with delicate wiring is called Crystal Mist, and it is the careful work and vision of David Gappa, owner of Gappa Fine Art Glass.
Working out of Vetro Glassblowing Studio and Gallery, located on Main Street in Grapevine, Gappa is a Texas native with a background in architecture and a passion for artistic expression.
“Pure art is our focus. By virtue of that, every day is different here,” Gappa says. “Artists have a low threshold for boredom. We do something a few times, and then we want to do something different.” This sentiment rings especially true when perusing his dynamic portfolio.
In one installation, called Synergy, a long rectangle in the ceiling is illuminated and populated with countless glass spheres in a neutral palette.
In Spring Rain, six colorful raindrops in purple, blue, yellow and green are suspended above a basin of a few large blue pools of glass set among white glass fragments.
Gappa’s work can be found in homes and public spaces throughout the Southeast and as far away as a palace in Saudi Arabia. He receives commissions from homeowners, designers and businesses, such as hospitals and restaurants. Sometimes a client comes with a specific concept in mind for Gappa to execute, and other times the project is more open-ended.
Each commission Gappa completes is entirely original and customized for the client and the space, and Gappa allows his clients to be as involved with the project as they like—even going so far as to allow clients to come into the workshop to help form pieces of glass for their project.
A recent commission involved a chandelier for a family in Frisco, Texas. Gappa began by showing the family sketches and digital drawings of an idea, then he set to work making a mockup. When it was time to make the final piece, Gappa invited the family to come help make a few of the glass teardrop shapes that make up the chandelier. Gappa made sure to mark those pieces, so they always know which ones they made themselves.
Gappa and the two other full-time glassblowers at Vetro are equally welcoming with all clients, as well as passersby. It’s an open studio, meaning spectators are always welcome.
Enter Vetro and you find a menagerie of glass sculptures, bowls, vases and jewelry in a wide spectrum of colors, including examples of Gappa’s work and other local artists. Proceed into the glassblowing studio, and you’re invited to take a seat on the metal bleachers and watch the magical art of glassblowing. You’ll feel the intense heat from the furnace that runs continuously with a seemingly endless supply of molten glass. You’ll see the long metal rods dipped into the furnace and spun continuously while the glass is skillfully stretched and molded into something beautiful.
The 2,400-degree furnace certainly keeps the studio warm year-round, and in the Texas summer heat it can be quite stifling at times. Gappa and his team do not abandon their work, however, even when the studio reaches up to 150 degrees in the summer. They wear military grade cool suits fitted with gel packs to keep as cool as possible while they work, and they’ve been known to pull graveyard shifts to keep on track with a commission during the hottest days of summer.
Gappa’s commitment to his work has earned him a stellar reputation with his clients and with the interior design trade. “I really enjoy creating something that engages and allows the viewer to become part of the artwork. That’s what I enjoy the most,” Gappa says.
Krista Franks Brock is a freelance writer and editor in Dallas. For more information, visit kristafranksbrock.wordpress.com.