Hi, I'm Louis Cipher. I started my studio, 7th Circle FlameWorks, around eight years ago (as of this writing). It has now become Mark of the Raven, but that is a story for another time.
You grow up quick when you grow up poor, and the confines of small town Maine just were't enough for me. Everyone knew everyone's business, and there was no way to escape the legacy left for me by my piece-of-shit father, let alone my own mistakes. There just wasn't any place to spread my wings and fly. I ran away from home when I was thirteen.
I made money to take care of myself, in part, as an urban explorer and "treasure hunter". I explored some of the creepiest, and often most dangerous places in North America, including North Brother Island, Ohio State Prison, Salton Riviera, and an untold number of high-rises, hospitals, factories, and homes. Abandoned logging camps, coal mines, cemeteries, haunted mansions, nothing was off limits when you are young, fearless, and have no particular place to be.
At some point along the way, when I was seventeen or so, hitch-hiking around North America with a backpack and a dog, I met a man by the name of Captain Chaos, (real name Greg, but what fun is that?), who traveled the country with his kids in a refitted school bus, blowing glass and having fun, selling his work at festivals and shows. The time I spent with him and his family gave me a love for glass, and watching him and asking questions (and occasionally getting on the torch) gave me an understanding of the basics.
Glass is an amazing and fascinating medium. It is what is known as a "transitive solid", meaning that it can occupy every possible state between solid and liquid. The fact that it required no small amount of danger to even use it, let alone master it, definitely held a strong appeal to me.
Sadly, with life being what it is, even more so when you are a young hobo, glass took a back seat, even ending up under the rug in the trunk of the car, behind some old Taco Bell wrappers and empty Monster cans. It wasn't until many years later, 2010 if I recall correctly, when I was working a dead-end retail job, that I realized that I needed to create, to make things that I could hold in my hand and say "I made this", if I was ever going to be happy in life.
I remembered how much I had loved working with glass, and my mind was made up. I spent what little I had saved for my retirement, as well as begging and borrowing, the thousands of dollars I required to buy everything I needed to get started. I documented the whole thing on my old facebook page, if you decide you want to know more...
I have sold my glass wholesale to numerous stores in Texas, Colorado, and Missouri. I have sold my glass at festivals, done live demos, and even taken on a couple of short-term students. It was a pretty wild ride. I moved my studio to Deep Ellum, one of the few places where I felt like I belong, and made my living by way of my art. Sadly, as it is so often want to do, life got in the way. I moved, got engaged, had a second child, and I got a really good job working for VapeWild.com.
After taking two years off from the glass world to focus on myself, I am back on the torch, my studio is finally re-built, in a greenhouse with a beautiful view in Pleasant Grove, Texas (a part of south Dallas, which, at one time, was both pleasant and a grove), and I am melting again, but now it's all different. I am no longer forced to create production bullshit. Now... I can focus on making what I want instead of what is easiest to sell. I still make simple production works from time to time, but now I am blessed with the ability to get back to making art for the sake of it.