Neon Novices Learn from a Master

Working in the Neon from Jessica Cartwright on Vimeo.

Neon glasswork will never be mainstream, but one man in Brooklyn believes the handcrafted technique is what makes it so special. The majority of people don’t realize that those numerous glowing neon signs in New York are handmade by an artist through a rigorous step-by-step process.

David Ablon, one of the few neon artists in the city, has been in the industry since he finished art school in the 1970s. He has seen the rise and fall of the art form, from the popular Studio 56 era of neon to the recent resurgence of this creative art today.

Now Ablon teaches students to make neon art at the Brooklyn Glass studio in Gowanus. The students learn how to heat and bend glass under an open flame, and how to craft neon pieces with the use of inert gases to light them.

With Brooklyn quickly becoming a creative hub, registration for his classes has increased. However, Ablon said that most students are just looking for a creative outlet and won’t necessarily continue on to become neon artists. But while they’re taking the eight-week course, Ablon’s students are seriously working on their final pieces before the course reaches its end.