Slightly smaller crowd makes annual event more 'pleasant'

Dan Neff, Duluth, Minn., demonstrates how to make a marble using a lamp-working technique. Neff was among 21 marble and glass artists who demonstrated during the 12th annual Marble Crazy on Friday and Saturday. Enlarge photo

March 10, 2011

The 12th annual Marble Crazy, which kicked off Friday afternoon at Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, brought together marble artists and enthusiasts from across the country, just as it does every year.

But unlike the jam-packed atmosphere usually associated with the annual event, the weekend’s less-than-optimal weather gave attendees a little room to breathe — and that’s not such a bad thing, Moon Marble owner Bruce Breslow said.

“I don’t think it was as busy as in years past,” Breslow said following the weekend-long event that usually draws so many attendees there is a line outside the door. “But I think it actually made it pleasant here. You don’t need a lot of people to have a good show. You just need the right people to be here, you know, the people that are interested in what you’re doing, that sort of thing.”

As always, Friday and Saturday of the event gave marble and glass artists the opportunity to display their hand-made marbles and to demonstrate for a fixed audience their own individual lamp-working, furnace and glass-blowing, and machine marble-making techniques. A total of 21 artists demonstrated over the weekend, traveling in from states that included Ohio, California and Minnesota. For a chance to show off what they do at an event that has gained quite a reputation over the years, the collective reasoning among the artists was that the long trip to Bonner Springs was well worth it.

“This is the best marble show in the United States now,” artist Dan Grumbling, Columbus, Ohio, said.

Each hour-long demonstration had audiences rapt with attention, and during the demonstrations, the artists went through and talked about the actual process of making a marble. The individual stamp each artist puts on their marble-making process is what has drawn Ron Keller, Hays, to the event the past two years.

“I like the demonstrations,” Keller said. “I like to see what the artists are doing, look at their techniques. It’s interesting to see how different their techniques are. I just love to come and be around all of it and see what the artists are doing. It’s just a great event.”

Most of the artists this year were returning from demonstrating at past Marble Crazy’s. Returning artists from Duluth, Minn., included Jes Durfee, Dan Neff and Sammy Flowers, who likened the event he first participated in three years ago to a total game changer.

“I was super inspired by all these legendary, really, really well-known marble makers,” Flowers, who is now a professional marble artist himself, remembers. “It changed my life.”

Flowers demonstrated his lamp-working technique Friday afternoon, and he said the demonstrations help him as much as those attendees who crowded around his marble-making station.

“I like explaining, because then it helps me go through the process … it slows (the process) down and makes me a lot more precise,” Flowers said.

Attending for the first time was marble artist Jerry Spangler, Jackson, Minn. He said he has been collecting vintage marbles for about 11 years, and one of the best parts of the event for him was getting a chance to meet some of the creators of those marbles in the flesh.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think it’s fantastic,” Spangler said of the event. “It’s exciting for me to meet the people whose marbles I’ve collected before. It’s just something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do.”

The event concluded Sunday with a marble collector’s show sponsored by the Kansas City Marble Collectors Club in the grand ballroom of the Holiday Inn-Olathe Medical Center, Olathe. The event featured vintage marble displays, and also included marble games and prizes for youths.

“We had a lot of people there,” Breslow said. “It was fun; a lot of nice marbles. Not all of the contemporary artists stayed, but a few of them did and displayed their work there.”

Overall, Breslow said, the event went “smooth,” despite a minor glitch where the glass furnace, used during the furnace marble-making demonstrations, was allowed to shut down over Friday night. Breslow said the melted glass inside the furnace must be at a temperature of 2150 before it can be used to make a marble, and the furnace took several hours to reach the correct temperature once the mistake was discovered. This pushed several of Saturday’s demonstrations back, he said.

“So, basically, it was just disappointing that I had all of those glass blowers there and they couldn’t work until about 3 in the afternoon,” Breslow said, promising that, next year, “it’s not gonna happen again.”

A live stream of the demonstrations was broadcast over the weekend on, and an archive of the live stream can still be viewed.

Originally published at: