HAMMOND, La. - Whatever the weather, one place it's always hot at the Louisiana Renaissance Fest is the glassblower's stage. That's where you'll find artist extraordinaire, Mark Haller. This master of precision has been wowing the crowds with his incredible creations for decades. He spent two years as the head glassblower at Walt Disney World, but left the corporate world behind and returned to his passion as a free-spirited artist, traveling from show to show.
His performance at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival is part science class, part comedy act.
"How long have you been doing this?" one child asked.
"Oh, for about seven minutes now," replied Haller with a smirk, referring to the chalice he was making on stage at that moment.
Between trips to his portable furnace, he repeatedly rolled a glowing ball of hot glass on a work table covered with colored pieces of glass that were rolled into the creation bit by bit.
He educates and entertains, while explaining the process and handling each creation with care. Eventually, the stem is added, then the base, which is called the 'foot.'
Haller is one of several craftsmen at the Festival who can create custom pieces to order. The normal cooling period is 12 hours, and pieces can be shipped. If you prefer not to wait, he also has a selection of off-hand blown glass items for sale.
"This festival has a really great place in my heart. I've been here at this festival from the very first day that it ever opened, says Haller. That's more than a decade under his belt, and he says he feels a special bond with the people of Louisiana.
He created a glass chalice for Twist Reporter Stephanie Oswald and you can watch the process in the video above.
"I wanted to make something for you that maybe you could take back to the bar with you and actually utilize," he laughed. He also sent back a reminder for the Twist team: that everything tastes better when you drink it out of a glass.
You can find out more about Mark Haller's work here.