At his Boulder studio, glassblower Bryan Goldfeder is busy preparing for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. To mark the holiday, which starts Friday night, Jews traditionally eat apples and honey for a sweet year to come, and Goldfeder makes vessels for the honey.
Sometimes customers send Goldfeder the glass they smashed under the chuppah at their wedding so he can melt it and make it into something whole again. Other times, he creates his pieces from smashed, recycled glass from glass studios in Colorado.
"I take a mass of material, the things I've garnered, and shards of broken glass and remelt [them] into a beautiful vessel," Goldfeder says.
The artist describes the High Holy Days, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, as, "A ten-day process of introspection and trying to learn and grow and reforge — remelting who I want to be, reforging the shards of my last year and my earlier self. I like that connection."
The glassblowing process, to him, symbolizes the Kabbalist value of tikkun olam, which means to repair a broken world. For him, that means creating new objects out of broken shards of glass: "I use this art form and this beauty and transparency to bring my activism and my tikkun olam into the world."
Goldfeder, who wants others to experience his process as well, holds in-studio workshops where people can make their own creations. But Goldfeder isn't just teaching people how to make a glass pot.
"It's these other lessons we're alluding to that are more important," he explains. "The courage to try something new, touch something hot. This is about learning how to go into a situation I've never gone into before where there is fire, make something beautiful and not get hurt. That's the world we're walking into right now."
And that world is a materialistic one — especially in 2020, when people spend hours staring into screens. While Goldfeder acknowledges this materialism, he doesn't necessarily think it's a bad thing. His philosophy is that people should be more mindful of where they get their possessions.
"I call it mindful materialism," Goldfeder says. "People come in here and make their stuff, so they're really viscerally seeing and feeling it being made. I'm in a material world. Materialism exists, and I want all of my things to be as handmade as possible, and have stories, and connect me to beyond just the material."
To find out more about Goldfeder and his workshops, go to the BGOLD website. His studio is at 2550 49th Street in Boulder.