Once upon a time 140 innocents – the number fluctuates with a revolving series of escapes and abductions – were kidnapped and held hostage in the fiery dungeon of a phantasmagorical glass factory on the outskirts of the town of Portland, Oregon on the West Coast of the United States.

Once a year, every year, the cleverest of the captives break free of their 9-5 shackles and in an exercise unparalleled in the history of shape-shifting, turn from furnace builders, melters, quality control technicians, programmers, salespeople and other slaves to the 40-hour week, into Artists.

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Possibly the most remarkable thing about the Bullseye Glass factory is that it exists at all.

It is the 21st century. Stuff is made in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.  That any product can be made by hand on an industrial scale in America today defies the economic odds. That many of those same hands – in their off hours – also make art, is the second miracle of Bullseye.

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Last night I went to the awards reception for the factory’s eighth annual show of glassworks made by its people.

The Working Glass exhibition is always fun. This year the minds, eyes and hearts that schedule, ladle, roll, build, sell and teach with Bullseye glass delivered up some of the most engaging pieces I’ve seen in years.

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