Donut Fest 4 hosted at The Blazin' Ace in Portland, ME is a annual show that takes place on National Donut Day and is put together by KGB Glass, Sarah Marblesbee, and many other artists, featuring Brian's (KGB) signature donut style pipes, pendants, and much more! This year I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the people who attended Donut Fest from all over New England, Andrew and Kerry-John who own Pot and Pan Kitchen, as well as Brain, about their interest in Brian's work and their Donut Fest experience.
Swervey and his girlfriend came up from Sommerville, MA "I like collecting pendants, glass art. I work with my hands a lot, I create things, these artists create pendants and pipes with their hands, they put a lot of their craft into it and I really appreciate that. It's better than the 'norm', it gets boring when you see the same thing over and over again so this is our escape, I'm out here because I love it." I asked them if they had planned on picking anything up or if they were just checking everything out and he said "We can't just come up here and not get buy anything man, everything here is so exclusive, rare, beautiful, crisp, so were gunna leave with something nice!"
Pot and Pan Kitchen also located in Portland, made their second appearance at Donut Fest this year after launching their brand at Donut Fest 3 last year, they offered medicated donuts to patients and non-medicated donuts to those without a medical card. This year Andrew told me about some of the new flavors they had cooking up and available at Donut Fest, they presented a traditional Maine made maple glazed donut topped with Maine maple bacon and a peach filled diplomat cream donut with a bourbon glaze and topped with a caramelized peach. Of course I had to ask the two if they came to scoop any new work from Brian "We came mostly for support, I saw a lot of stuff I liked and its not that I don't have the budget for it, I don't have the room in my glass collection!"
Paul from Falmouth Maine is a long time lover of glass art and a frequent flyer at The Blazin' Ace, him his wife and daughter came by to see what Brian and other artist had put together this year. Together they own a chocolate glazed donut with strawberry drizzle.
I spoke to Ian form Rockport, MA this was his first Donut Fest and first visit to The Blazin' Ace, "I scooped the Muller and KGB collab (functional), it was a little out of my price range but I couldn't resist it, its a beautiful piece and I can't wait to take it home!" Ian also had some great things to say about his first Donut Fest "I came for the great art and great people. So much great stuff from so many artists, the people here are very like minded and its just good to be around like minded people!"
I also had the chance to speak to Eli or ESH Glass who is a Portland native and glassblower who's just recently moved back from Florida "Brian is a close friend and fellow artist, this is the first Donut Fest I was able to be in Portland for and I finally got to do a collab with him. We incorporated a pomegranate glazed donut with my Uni-cycler design."
After a hectic and productive day at The Blazin' Ace we all headed over to Bayside Bowl, the bowling alley across from Brian's shop and one of his favorite spots. Here I finally had the chance to sit down with the donut man himself, let me start off by saying this was one of the most informative and heartfelt interviews I have ever conducted and I want to thank Brian and Sarah for not only welcoming me and allowing me to pop in and document their lives quite frequently but for pushing me and each other to create something we really have our hearts and souls in and to do so simply because it makes us who we are. "Four years of something I never thought would actually be. I never dreamed of Donut Fest being a thing but around 2011 to 2012 I started getting a lot of collectors and they were from all over the country, and I thought that Donut Fest would be a great way to bring everyone together one day a year, all the donut people and they can hangout, they can sesh, do the whole nine and it just seems like a great meeting spot for everyone to come and gather. All the donut people are like a family everyone's really tight knit, and that common bond really unites people, thats one of the best parts of the whole donut thing, just knowing that theres this camaraderie between everyone is just really surreal. To me my favorite part is just friends making friends just because of the donut and that blossoming into whatever, creating that connection, the world needs that and its just great that I can be a part of that."
The Blazin' Ace has been the host of Donut Fest every year so far and Brian doesn't see that changing in the future "Our relationship started back when I first started blowing glass and when they opened up a few years later, I was friends with Chris and Ryan who were two of the three original owners. We used to play a lot of poker together, poker used to get me through the cold months of glassblowing in Maine were you didn't sell enough glass to get by, go play some cards, you know supplement the income like that. I think, if I remember correctly The Blazin' Ace was named at the poker table! I could be high, I could be wrong but I remember it, but I also remember shit that didn't happen, so I'm ninety-nine percent sure, definitely fact check but I'm pretty sure. They've always helped me out, I would barely have enough money to pay my bills, to eat, and they would prepay for glass just to help me keep going, without blinking an eye. That to me really means a lot, there were a lot of stores that would do that cause you know I was struggling but I was trying. The stores in Maine and neighboring states really care, they care about the artist and they care about the customers, so that helped me. When I realized I wanted to do something like Donut Fest I was like its kinda gotta be the Ace. They gave me my first decent display, where it was the front display on Fore Street and that changed the game, it opened it up to so many different people and they actually started moving so that I could make more and fine tune it and get better and better and better. It was the starting point with them putting a donut box in the window with some of my donuts and we just started crushing it. My first donut box was actually a play on Dunkin' Donuts, Sarah photoshopped it all and it looked just like Dunkin' Donuts but it said "KGB" and "America Runs On KGB", we had it out there for a couple months and then this guy comes into the Ace one day and he's like eating a Gelato Fiasco and he's like "Hey I work for Dunks you can't have that box there" and the guys at the Ace were like "Yeah we can" and so two days later we got an overnighted package from Dunkin' Donuts headquarters with pictures of the fuckin box and a cease and desist and them being like no you can't, you must destroy that fuckin box, so that lead me to be like you know fuck Dunkin' Donuts anyways, I worked for them but they outsourced it, I left. I don't want my logo or brand to be built off of them although I was a donut baker for them for five years and that helped me as I was learning to blow glass. I was always working two to three baking jobs as I was learning cause I had to supplement it, so long story short they got the cease and desist, we burned that box and I started my own, that led to the donut box and the donut bag. The donut was born here, and there are rumors that the first donut ever was from Camden Maine, dude sailing across the ocean and shit and he's got this pastry and the storms crazy "Fuck I need both hands for the wheel" and he slams it down on the steering wheel of the boat and it popped a fuckin hole in it! And from what I understand that is the first donut which is pretty fuckin cool might I add. Its gotta be Maine, this place has made me the artist I am, has given me the support, and I'm all about keeping it local. My bags are printed locally here, the Ace, my shirts are printed locally, I just try to do everything as locally as I can, like the after party. I'm supporting a business thats a lot slower in the summer so it gives us the space and gives them an extra boost! Shoutout to the rooftop at Bayside Bowl, free food, free music, the after party is a huge thank you to the collectors, shop owners, everyone thats supported me throughout the year, and its just a small way but its a way for me to give back, a small token of thanks. A lot goes into this, buying pipes, nothings cheap, nothings inexpensive, everything costs something, and I really value that people will spend their hard earned money on my art, like I said its the least I can do, if I could just give it away I would. Side note about The Blazin' Ace I met my girlfriend Sarah Marblesbee there, she used to be the headshop chick, and I was the broke glassblower and my pick up line was "Hey uh I can't eat tonight could you go into the store" she was done, it was like nine o'clock at night I was like "can you go in there and just like buy forty bucks worth of glass off me so I can fuckin eat?" and she's like "Yeah..." and thats how I got her number cause I had to call her to be like "Hey uh can we meet up now?". I always thought she was cute but I didn't think there was a thing and I had kicked her a donut for buying my glass for the shop and she was like "Oh sweet" and that lead to us dating over seven years now and she's a huge part of KGB Glass and my emotional, mental, the backend books of everything, she is the unsung hero for sure, but another thing she came from the Ace like all these things, and its like a block from my house! Its local! My studios across the street from here (Bayside Bowl), the Ace is across the street from my house, I just like to keep it local! No matter what your into theres something here in Portland or you might find something you never knew you were into and have it here. Donut Fest will always be National Donut Day, Blazin' Ace, Portland Maine."
Local ordinances and recreational marijuana laws didn't allow for smoking at the venues this year but Brian hopes to have everything located in one space in the future "We know we've got to grow into it, we're just trying to evolve every year, listen to people see what they like and didn't like and just try to add on that. Donut Fest is what it is because of not only us but the fans and customers telling us what they want or don't want."
This year Brian was able to collaborate with some of his close friends like Chaka Glass "Anyone who knows me knows that I love snow, and I love to shovel, I volunteer in the winter shoveling senior citizens, I just love snow! His blizzard tech just blew my mind, also going back to Sarah our love animal is a penguin so I was like "Dude we need to do a penguin this is the coolest thing!" and I was almost hoping it didn't sell so I could fucking buy it but I'm happy it went to a good home." Brian was also able to work with some of his heroes and cross some names off his bucket list such as Peter Muller, Gateson Reko, Piper Dan, and Kevin Nail, "people I've looked up to my entire glass career, Scotty "Mr. Gray" who was there when I made my first donut in 2007, these guys I've looked up to my whole life and the fact that they're down to work with me means more than most anything, this is a big deal just to me, got so nervous making some of these pieces cause I didn't want to fuck it up! It was a really refreshing year, really outside of my box, yet now my box is bigger and now I can go outside of my box even more next year and so on." Working with the younger glassblowers who are just coming up such as ESH and Hollinger, Brian has taken a liking to their energy and positive outlook "I love working with these guys, glassblowing is not easy, its a grind getting going and everything, it takes a lot of sacrifice, working with these kids that are just so hungry and loving it and there in the struggle but they're crushing it, its just motivation to me. I do love this and so do you guys and thank you for giving me that little breath of fresh air." Brian's one regret this year is not getting to make a jewelry set that he and Sarah had planned on making but time didn't allow for "we collabed on Donut Fest itself, its bittersweet, its the biggest collab it could be but at the same time it would've been nice to have something in the show." And Brian you may not be a Mainer but you are pretty fuckin close.