Philadelphia glassblower seeks to create 1,000 glass cranes in a year

With 13 years in the business, Philadelphia glass artist Jeremy Grant-Levine is already one of the most prominent figures in the glass pipe subculture in which Philadelphia is a hot spot. But for his next project, he’ll be making cranes. 

1,000 of them, to be exact.

Better known by his studio name, Germ, Grant-Levine hopes to spend an entire year on 1,000 Glass Cranes as a way to more deeply explore “one large idea.” The hope is that the project can serve as a reaction to the “new-next-now flux” that has overtaken the modern world — art (and pipes) included. 

“The lifestyle I live now doesn’t encourage focus because we’re always on to the next thing. This requires focus on the moment rather than the future,” Germ says of 1,000 Glass Cranes. “It’s a step back from feeding a commodity market for a year to focus on one thing rather than what’s next.”

The project represents more of a fine art move for the longtime pipe maker, whose functional, smokeable pieces typically sell for thousands of dollars. It is also one of the largest projects the artist has undertaken in his decade-plus of experience, with Germ estimating that the 1,000 cranes will take not only up to 250 pounds of glass to make, but also about two miles of wire to display them, all with a total cost of $20,000 in materials. And he’ll be doing everything solo.

“Just to complete the project, I need to have an entire lifestyle change,” Germ says. “It will become a full-time job. It doesn’t leave much room for distraction.”

That lack of distraction will allow Germ to focus entirely on 1,000 Glass Cranes as a larger scale, singular artwork, rather than the many individualized pieces he typically creates in pipe making.  And while pipes, for Germ, are enjoyed on a more personal, individual level, this new project offers the chance for a more grand impact.

“In pipe making, you’re not creating artwork to any sort of scale,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed the personal aspects and relationships of the objects I create. But it doesn’t necessarily create a larger experience.”

��sound on!!�� @1000glasscranes Kickstarter is %20 funded!!! But I'm going to need everyone to go click the link, check out the video, share the page, donate, cop a tshirt or reserve a crane for this project to work. Once this project begins I will have to focus almost all my time on making cranes to be able to make 1000 in a year. Own a part of the largest project I've ever undertaken! Click the link to see the full length Video by @threadriot https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1066626660/1000-glass-cranes

A video posted by Jeremy Grant-Levine (@1000glasscranes) on Aug 19, 2016 at 4:39pm PDT

Once the yearlong project is finished, Germ plans to hang his 1,000 Glass Cranes at Ruckus Gallery in Old City for an immersive exhibit akin to architect Francis Kéré’s installation the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Creative Africa exhibit. Earlier this year, Germ previewed the 1,000 Glass Cranes project at the Divine Lorraine Collection pop-up back in May. His work has previously been shown in art Galleries from Philadelphia to Seattle and Tel Aviv.

Currently, Germ is raising money for 1,000 Glass Cranes via Kickstarter, which runs through Sept. 27.

Several glass cranes hang in front of the Philadelphia skyline. Photo by Mike Ryan.