Steffen is largely self-taught. After 25 years as an established painter and sculptor in the Pacific Northwest, he started working with glass as an assistant to Evan Schauss in 2015 while living on Maui, Hawaii. He quickly realized that glass was the next step in his artistic career and in 2017 moved to Santa Fe, NM to pursue his own work in glass full-time. In Santa Fe, he blows glass at Prairie Dog Glass, often being assisted by his wife, Manju.
After more than 25 years as a painter and sculptor, I now find myself blowing and sculpting glass. While I never expected to work in glass, it has been the next step in a natural evolution. My fascination with organic colors, textures and shapes has finally found the perfect outlet and my past experiences allow me to create work that transcends my new medium.
In my past career, I realized early on that in order to arrive at an organic result, I must go through an organic process. I found glass to be the ideal material for this approach. Between heat, gravity, and centrifugal force, glass takes on a life of its own and as the artist, I end up collaborating with the material, rather than trying to dictate an outcome. When I am working with glass, I am approaching color from a painter’s viewpoint. However, colored glass does not blend and mix in the way that oils or acrylics do. Through a lot of experimentation, I developed a process based on colored glass that has been ground to a powder size. Layering these powders and heating and cooling them in specific ways allows me to create these unique, distinctive finishes. All of my work continues to evolve and I find that as I progress as a glassblower, I’m able to incorporate more and more techniques from my experience as a painter and sculptor.