Bright Ideas

Bring On the Neon

Finally Light Bulbs March 29, 2018


No, we’re not talking about the fabulous (questionable?) fashion trends of the 90s. We’re talking about Neon signs! We all have seen advertising in the form of bright Neon signs – the ‘Open’ sign in a store window, the ‘Vacancy’ notification at a motel, even signs in Times Square, and Broadway are all illuminated by luminous tubing, or “Neon.” Do you know how these neon signs are made? We do now, thanks to the beautiful artwork of our very own in house glass blower, Rusty Russo. If you thought making these signs was easy, think again.

Neon signs, also known as “liquid fire,” are made from hollow glass tubes, shaped by the art of glass blowing. The glass is heated with torches fueled by a mixture of gas and forced air, then curved into the desired shape. Sound easy? See for yourself.

As you can see, creating these neon signs is truly an art form. Many artists have embraced this technique to create beautiful, illuminated glass objects and sculptures. In Cohasset, MA, the South Shore Art Center (SSAC) is celebrating these types of pieces with a Neon art exhibit. The exhibit, titled “On! Pushing Back the Dark,” features art from seventeen, hand-picked, nationally known artists, and our very own Rusty Russo, R&D glassblower here at Finally®, was invited to create a piece.

Rusty first took an interest in Neon when he was a toddler. His parents owned a restaurant that had a beautiful neon sign in the window. Rusty thought this sign was so fascinating and beyond anything he had seen in this world. His interests brought him to Murano, Italy as a teenager to witness traditional glassblowing masters at work. The trip left a huge impression on him. He swore that someday he would learn how to work with glass and create Neon art – and he did. Glass blowing is Rusty’s profession and passion and led him to create a wonderful Neon piece for the exhibit.

In the exhibit, all skylights and windows are covered by dark curtains making the studio pitch black. The scene is striking with only the flame-blown glass sculptures lighting the way. These sculptures seem to move as various ionized gas mixtures, or plasma, dance in the glass. Each artist was given the challenge to create a piece that represents a lifeform. Some examples are below:


Rusty chose to take a different approach. The lifeform he chose is actually formless. He chose consciousness.


Rather than creating a representation of a natural lifeform, Rusty created a piece he named, “The Three Keys,” where the interaction between lifeless forms creates life and meaning. “The intent of the piece is to inspire and give real power to the seemingly powerless,” Rusty explained. “The Three Keys, through an interaction between the observer and the work, will invariably compel the observer to seek out meaning.” The images seem familiar, but not identifiable. Rusty challenges the observer to seek out meaning in these lifeless forms. We all seek out meaning in symbols and objects every day. Alone, they have no intrinsic meaning or power, but once we assign meaning, they come to life. It’s common for one symbol or object to have many different meanings. The meaning is based off our own individual interpretation, our own consciousness.

We are very proud of Rusty and hope you get a chance to check out his work at the SSAC!