Acuity Installation, part 2, It’s Done!

That moment when Bob installed the last pieces on the first sphere was very sweet. With one down and one to go we left the first sphere to the expertise of Alfredo and Bob and went to sample some of Wisconsin’s  famous fried cheese curds…

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Bob puts the last few pieces into the top…



I don’t have any pictures of those cheese curds for you. They were gone that fast! Hard work, anticipation and satisfaction coupled with deliciousness make for big appetites and they were gone in a blink.



The spheres are endlessly fascinating as they transform. One of the things that draws artists towards working with this kind of project is the way they seem to grow and transform organically into their final shapes as they are assembled.

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
looking through one open panel into the other side and seeing the sphere from the inside out



Even after the months spent making the thousands of glass horns and steel pins and washers and clips, and testing and re-testing the fits – it just doesn’t stop being beautiful as it passes through the stages towards completion.

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Each time you look down at the piece it is different and beautiful.

After that the process seemed to flow like water. The employees at Acuity came by on their lunch breaks to remark on the work and the progress and we really relaxed into the rhythm of the work.




With one sphere completed we begin to make real progress on the second





As we worked on the second sphere it was hard to keep from looking over as Alfredo and Bob of Hennes worked to hoist and then secure the first sphere into it’s final mount about 25′ above.


Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Bob of Hennes making the switch from temporary to permanent mounts. Nerve-wracking!






Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Alfredo of Hennes keeps a watchful eye


its coming for you....
Just playing with amazing backlight and some tilt shift …

After 6 days in Sheboygan we finally installed the last pieces on the last sphere. Alfredo and Bob from Hennes were standing by to hoist and secure the sphere and we were rushing to pack our tools into one little crate to ship home and pack ourselves off to the airport.

Flag at Acuity Insurance
rather grand isn’t it?
Read about this gigantic flag at

Ben Salzmann, President and CEO of Acuity Insurance company came and filled our pockets with Acuity goodies for the plane ride home. I’m wearing that sweatshirt as I type this! And Kurt Lodl took us into the hardhat area to see the progress on the campus’ next expansion. So, thank you to Ben Salzmann, who started this whole big idea, and Sheri Murphy, Vice President of Services and Administration, who administered through all the process (thank you) and Kurt Lodl and all the rest of the Acuity team who were so kind and welcoming. We look forward to working with you all again soon!

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
One of the original Blue Spheres


3 of the original 7 sisters by Belle Mead Hot Glass for Acuity Insurance company
This gif of the spheres was originally captured on the app Fyuse. Look for #bellemeadhotglass on Fyuse and post your images back to us

Check out #bellemeadhotglass on your social media of choice. The above video is a 3D photograph when viewed on the free app FYUSE. They don’t sponsor us or anything, we just love to share images of this stuff in 3 dimensions. If you have a great picture of something from Belle Mead Hot Glass post it to us on Instagram, Fyuse, Facebook, Houzz and hashtag it #bellemeadhotglass or email it to us here at the website. It would mean alot to us if you did.

Almost! Acuity Installation, the last step, part 1

And so, after three and a half months of constant work and preparations we had the Acuity installation extension ready to go.

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
We are going to fill this truck!

10 Pallets composed of 8 double-tall boxes each, measuring 4′ x 4 x 7′ plus the two metal spheres were assembled on our loading dock and carefully maneuvered onto an air ride trailer. For this kind of installation we simply hire the entirety of a truck. Moving this fragile load and coordinating the meetings between the glass and ourselves and the crews onsite can be a tricky thing. So, working with one driving team and their representatives can simplify things for us. This time, our driver was great and stayed in contact with us throughout the 48 hours that the transit took. He even stopped to text and see that we were ok when a storm caused flight delays on what he anticipated would be our route. And do you know what? It was a good thing he did, because we were delayed! It is a pleasure to work with people who are so considerate and care so much about their job. (thanks Mekonen!)

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Bob moving one of the many pallets for the installation as we create a little art logjam on the loading dock.

Here we are unloading the truck… This was a whole lot of glass to move and get sorted. Each box contained pieces assigned to a specific sphere, and further to a panel on the sphere. Much time was spent jockeying these all into position. We were very grateful for the continuous and thoughtful help of Kurt Lodl, the Director of Facility Projects.

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
The spheres that looked so giant in the studio look cute in this space. But, they’re about to get nearly 6′ wider!


Although the staff here is pretty well qualified in hanging glass from ceilings… these spheres were big and also heavy!


Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Alfredo and Bob the riggers from Hennes standing behind their lifts and making plans.









Luckily for us, we had two great riggers from Hennes. Alfredo and Bob were great and we were glad to have them there taking care of the hanging of the spheres. Initially, the spheres are suspended only about 5′ off the floor. This allowed us to start hanging the spheres from down low.

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
The first sphere of this installation with the first panel installed. Only 39 panels and ooooh, about 2,886 pieces of glass to go.



Having the sphere within reach of the ground is a great deal easier than working on the scaffolds or lifts. After a few panels we began to get into the swing of things and find our flow.






Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
and this is how we know where to put things…




That first day of hanging pieces was very long. Although we had tested and retested and trouble shot everything over and over back at the shop and this was even the second time we had installed these spheres for Acuity, there were still some nervous moments. But before long, our progress was evident even to our professional worrier and our system had proved itself.



Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844

The bottom panels of the first sphere completed, it looks ready to float away on a deep sea current.







In this image you can see the second sphere in its temporary position further down the hall.







The end of day one…

Bellemead Hot Glass, Robert Kuster,Hillsborough NJ 08844
Coming to the end of a day… See? it is always fascinating to look at!

Glass Master of the Universe…

Recently while scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across a video of a young glassblower.  This up-and-coming young man started in my shop quite a few yeears ago.  And, having been absorbed in my own work, I was startled to see how much he has developed as an artist.

from Jakes Treasure Series of Vases...
from Jake’s Treasure Series of Vases…

In about 2004 or 2005, a father began dropping in to the shop. He said he had a son who passionately wanted to learn to blow glass. And he said his son would do anything, sweep, tidy, pack, if he could just get a chance to be around glass. Mike (the father) told me his son didn’t care if he got paid, he was just on fire to learn about glass. Well, we weren’t hiring at that moment; but, Mike continued to drop by and get to know us all over at the shop. And then, one day, we had an opening and Jake Pfiefer was hired. I have never had an unpaid member of staff. I do believe that if a person is willing to work they should be paid for their efforts.

For the next few years Jake worked hard in the cold-working shop processing and packing the glass we had made the day before. But, he always kept his eye on the hotshop. Eventually, Jake’s persistence paid off again and he began to work in the hotshop. First, he worked putting the little glass loops on each ornament or chandelier piece. This is the first rung on the ladder in the hotshop; it’s not a big step up, but it got him in the hotshop.


Over time, as with most employees who are ambitious, Jake moved on to bigger and better things. This doesn’t always happen, most people who start in glass give up somewhere along the way. For many reasons glass is a very difficult medium to master. The pitfalls can be enormous. The heat in summer alone is enough to bar the way for many people. The expense of working in glass is daunting, as is the ability to master technique and find proper instruction and training. But, as is true with so many things, there are always a few who rise to the top and achieve a level unimagined just a few years before. Sometimes they rise because of some innate ability, luck and opportunity certainly have something to do with it and sheer determination will often bring success. Sometimes, its a combination of all three.

It has been many years since Jake left us to continue on his path as a glass artist. I had never really stopped to imagine how far he would get. Over the years I’ve followed his progress though friends and social media but although I was glad to hear he was still at it and proud of what I knew of his progress it wasn’t until the other day that I got to see how far his work has progressed. Jake has assembled a body of work that utilizes many difficult and complex techniques that only work when done well. He has developed true command over the forms he creates and a great sense of color. Who knows, maybe he will be the next “Glass Master of the Universe” ?



(special thanks to all the staff who have worked with Belle Mead Hot Glass over the years, all success and never stop trying to be the next “Glass Master of the Universe”)



Here is that video of Jake, take a look!

Coming up next?

  • installations in Florida
  • Instllations in LA
  • Installations in Wisconsin

And, “how to train your dragon” or “maintaining a glass furnace!”


Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ

Belle Mead Hot Glass is proud to announce that we have been asked to complete a project for Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ. In 2007, Belle Meade Hot Glass was initially contracted to create a ceiling display – a fiery chandelier which is the centerpiece of their main dining room.

Belle Meade Hot Glass is currently building three separate ceiling displays. Each piece will measure 6’x10′. In total this installation will require over 120 individual plates. It is expected to be completed over the next three months.

Read more information about our completed installation and Restaurant Nicholas here.