By Jeannie Howard
Cohn Stone Glass Studio | 510-234-9690 | Cohnstone.com
The Cohn Stone Studios story is a creative love affair forged in molten glass. While attending UC Berkeley in the 1970s, Michael Cohn and Molly Stone fell in love with glass blowing and have spent the past nearly 40 years building a reputation for creating high quality studio lines that showcase their collaborative vision as well as their individual artistic voices.
Being a couple years behind one another in their education didn’t stop the two from eventually meeting. “We really just met through the glass world, just crossed paths because we were both blowing glass,” Stone describes of how her and Cohn met in 1980.
Marrying shortly after that chance meeting, the artistic duo recently celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary. “At the studio it is a partnership and we try to keep the hats separate. We try not to talk about the studio when we are at home. It’s an effort,” she says.
With a life pitted in glass blowing it’s no wonder that nearly every waking moment for them is focused on glass. “When I wake up in the morning I can’t wait to get to the studio,” she shares. “We are so blessed that we get to do what we love.”
Stone admits that the couple is at their studio five, even six, days a week. “We are there more than we are at home. There are so many possibilities of what can be created and it is frustrating that there just isn’t enough time in the day. At some point we have to stop and actually go home,” she adds.
Their passion and dedication for their art form is evident in the remarkable pieces they create. From the whimsical nature inspired pieces to their imaginative vases and paperweights, every piece created is truly unique. “We are very picky of our work. We aim to make the very highest quality pieces we can and it is a challenge to make the next piece better than the last,” she says.
Stone credits the quality of their pieces not only to her and Cohn’s artistic skills in blowing and sculpting, but also to their proprietary formulas for making the glass.
“We melt our own glass. Each batch starts out as 13 or 14 raw materials that look like baking flour,” she describes. Once mixed, the raw batch will go into a 2,300 degree oven, which Cohn built himself, where it will cook all night. Come morning the batch will be a molten blob of glass ready to be transformed.
“Different batch formulas will act differently—some will move around longer, some will melt at lower temperatures. Our formulas are specific to how we need to and want to work with the glass. So we are always changing it depending on what we want to make.”
As an avid gardener Stone finds much of her inspiration in her garden outside the studio. This is clearly evident in her bird and flower pieces. “The birds are really fun and also challenging, which is what makes them extra fun,” she says. “Each one is unique and has a different expression.”
Stone says that a lot of inspiration for the duo also comes from simply working with the glass. “Something happens when you are working on a piece—you see something in the glass that you then develop into another idea,” she says. “Working is always an inspiration in itself.”
While they have built a loyal following for their various series, such as the pumpkins or the larger than life fruit, Stone says her and Cohn will be making a few changes in what they focus on. “Michael and I both want to make more one-of-a-kind pieces and sculptural things,” she reveals. “We are doing less of what we call production pieces, so we won’t have pumpkins anymore. We may do a special piece in that series in the future, but for right now we are not working on them.”
Loyal fans should not worry. “We’ll continue to work out of our studio and have open houses to allow the public to see what we are working on and purchase our work,” Stone assures. In between their open houses, studio hours will continue to be by appointment and she urges clients who want to stay up to date on studio happenings to sign up for their newsletter on their website.
Whether it’s her birds or flowers, the beloved pumpkins, or one-of-a-kind pieces, Stone says she “can’t imagine doing anything else. Glass work is just so much a part of who Michael and I are. We are both hands-on people and can’t imagine not creating—when I create time stands still.”