Matthew Cummings ’05 founds Pretentious Beer Glass Company
The Pretentious Beer Glass Company, the brainchild of glass artist Matthew Cummings ’05, features handcrafted, mouth-blown glasses individually shaped to compliment the unique characteristics found in the many varieties of craft beer. The company is so new it hasn’t even officially launched, but word’s getting around and orders are coming in with the help of social media.
“The interest in the PBGC has been amazing,” Cummings says. “It’s only been ‘live’ for a week now and I’ve already sold most of the inventory I made for the unveiling party on Dec. 16!
“I mainly put the Facebook and Etsy pages up so that people could see what I was bringing to the unveiling party and spread the word,” Cummings continues. “But people starting sharing the pages, and it got beyond my group of friends to their friends and to their friends. Suddenly I was working overtime to do all the logistical work I had planned to do over a couple of weeks.”
Since completing an MFA at Illinois State University, Cummings has enjoyed a successful career in contemporary glass sculpture. Some of his work was part of an exhibit this past fall at Ken Saunders Gallery in Chicago, and was featured in an article in “Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly” magazine.
“It’s been a wonderful ride so far,” he says, “but the sculptural work is so expensive and time-consuming to make that it becomes cost-prohibitive for most people. The fact that I can make these great beer glasses, and make them affordable, is one of the things that I love about this project.”
A passion for craft beers and a group of friends at Louisville’s Mellwood Art Center provided the inspiration.
“We meet every week to talk about beer culture, art or politics,” Cummings says. “One day someone had the idea that the glass-blower in the group—myself—should make some super luxurious beer glasses for our little meetings. From that meeting came the ‘Tailored Tulip,’ an offset tulip glass that’s tailored to the owner’s hand through lathe cutting – techniques similar to cut crystal. Having a beer glass that perfectly fits your hand is so unprecedentedly luxurious and over-the-top that we started calling our group the Pretentious Beer Glass Club. This cup will honestly make a grown man giggle. I’ve heard it!
“In the process of researching beer glasses for the Tailored Tulip, I saw the glaring lack of creativity in the beer glass world. This oversight was so dramatic, that I knew it needed to be addressed. So I began working on the rest of the styles,” Cummings continues. “I designed and made about 20 prototypes before narrowing it down to the current set. Louisville has such a great beer scene, it inspired me to pay such close attention to the vessels that we use to consume it.”
Louisville is a glass art hotspot, a movement rooted in the influence of Centre professor Stephen Powell. Powell, a world-renown artist in his own right, has been educating young people here at Centre in the art of glass for nearly thirty years.
“One of the great compliments of Stephen’s program is that so many successful people come out of the department, all for different aspects of glass,” Cummings says.
The Pretentious Beer Glass Company will have its official unveiling at the Holy Grale in Louisville on Sunday. Cummings is also considering future projects, such as glasses designed especially to compliment other beverages, an expanded Pretentious Beer Glass Club, and introducing the line to breweries around the country.