TORRINGTON – Orin Yung, known as the Cowboy Glassblower, will present a demonstration at the Southeast Wyoming Art Association’s meeting on June 7 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be open to the public and held in Yung’s workshop behind his residence at 1825 East E Street.
Yung, who is a member of the Southeast Wyoming Art Association, decided to suggest a demonstration at one of their monthly meetings.
The term “glassblowing” includes several different techniques. Yung, who has honed his craft for 53 years, plans to demonstrate blowing (which he described as making a bubble), solid work and lace work.
“Then, if any of them want to try it, I’ll sit down and help them,” he said.
Yung said he is always open to teaching people how to get started in the art form. His own glassblowing career started in Kimball, Nebraska.
Yung said he grew up farming wheat with his family near Kimball. Yung has three siblings, but he was the only one interested in continuing the family farm. Yung and his wife, Gwen, farmed for a while. They now have been married for 47 years.
In high school, Yung’s science teacher, Don Meyer, introduced him to the form of art he became intrigued by.
“I had seen Don Meyer blow glass and I was just enthralled,” Yung said.
Not long after, Yung asked Meyer if he could teach him how to blow glass.
Meyer later told Yung about his initial thought. Yung remembers Meyer saying, “when that big ol’ farm boy came in I thought, if I can teach him, I can teach anybody.”
Yung said Meyer was a chemistry teacher who had learned scientific glassblowing and later started artistic glassblowing.
“He was incredibly good,” Yung said. “He was the best teacher I ever had. And I had some really good ones.”
The first skill Yung learned was to bend tubes of glass on a Bunsen burner. Once he was able to bend them, he worked on making a complete circle.
“It sounds so simple, and now it is, but it’s so necessary to learn how to feel the glass,” Yung said.
Yung began honing his skills every day during his high school study hall. During this time, Meyer happened to have a free period. Yung said he would practice during that time, as long as his grades looked alright.
Up until a couple of years ago, Yung said he had used the torch he bought in his senior year of high school. That same year, Yung’s dad made him a work desk, which he still uses.
When Yung wasn’t sitting behind a torch, he had worked as a farmer, a construction worker and a nurse.
“I got my letter of acceptance into nursing school on my 40th birthday,” Yung said.
Both Yung and Gwen studied at the Scottsbluff campus of University of Nebraska Medical Center to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing.
For a while, Yung worked at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff before doing private duty nursing. Yung said he received calls from physicians directing him to patients.
“Everything I’ve done I’ve enjoyed. You know, I loved farming, loved construction, loved nursing,” he said.
What Yung said he loves most about glassblowing is getting lost in a project.
“I’ve done it for 53 years now and I still enjoy it,” he said.
Yung said he makes a few unique specialty items, including wedding cake tops, windmills, oil pumps and horses.
Windmills are his favorite pieces to work on.
“I’m an old farmer, and nobody else makes them.” Yung said.
“You don’t have to fit a certain mold to do anything,” Yung said, referencing that many would not see a former farmer as someone who is also an artist.
Yung is known as “the cowboy glassblower.” He said he chose the name because it’s uniqueness – it causes people to ask questions.
“One time I worked up on a ranch and kind of thought I was a cowboy. I wasn’t, but I thought I was,” he laughed.
Though he prefers to work without color, Yung adds it from time to time.
Yung explained when he holds silver oxide in the flame, the glass will turn yellow. Gold turns glass a beautiful red, chromium makes green and borax makes blue, according to Yung.
Yung sells his work, but said he needs to find ways to further develop that process. A large issue with shipping his work is the risk of it breaking.
Only three years ago, Yung decided to dive into painting. He said Gwen had suggested he take art classes at Eastern Wyoming College. His professor encouraged him to start with oil paint.