After almost fifteen years as a development level machinist in the aerospace industry, involved in projects such as the Viking Landers, now to be found on Mars, and the B1 bomber, I became intimately involved in a relationship with glass and glass carving, working for and with Kelsey Murphy at her glass decorating factory (Glass Expectations, Inc.) in Ohio. As our decorating evolved from architectural glass to 3 dimensional shapes and vessels, I had to develop some machinery to make the vessels possible to decorate in a production that was both controllable and cost effective. Once finished with that, my interest began to wander towards the cameo glass of 1800s English artists. When Glass Expectations was contracted by Pilgrim to decorate some of their vessels, we took advantage of their tremendous facility to try to develop the historically ill fated process. With the help of some very talented people working there, I overcame many of the problems, both in the chemistry and the annealing process, that historically netted losses of over 90% of every piece ever made, reducing the losses to under 3%. During that time I produced many pieces, some of which can be seen in museums, like the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Broadfield House Glass Museum, Stourbridge, England, and many private collections.
After a ten year hiatus, delving into wood carving and other mediums, I am excited to be back carving cameo glass. Glass, especially cameo glass, is extremely addicting! Once it's in your blood, you never want to give it up! Now, living in West Virginia, the peaceful and natural surroundings here at the studio are so wonderfully inspiring, allowing for both the realist and the fantasy sides of my person.
"After thirty years of working within the restrictions of graphic design in industry, a canvas whose planes of creativity include color both transparent and opaque, 360 degrees, three dimensions, bas-relief, thousands of shapes, offers total design freedom.
Working in cameo glass makes finding inspiration not so much like searching for a needle in a haystack but more like seeing the forest for the trees as virtually anything is possible and I, now, think of myself as an artist."
Artist owned and operated,
Studios of Heaven
specializes in the carving of cameo glass.
Robert P. Bomkamp
Meet the artists...
Cameo glass is a hand-blown, hand carved, multiple colored, layered glass. The
more colored layers, the more rare and more precious the glass. Please check out
our glass page to find out more about the glass we work with.
We carve quality cameo glass items ranging from beautiful ornaments to incredibly rare and unique, multi-layered Pilgrim Super Cameo glass art pieces that are impossible to find anywhere else in the world.
Each Studio of Heaven art piece is created from an original pencil drawing, the design is then fully developed for glass before it can then be carefully sand-carved by hand to bring out the natural beauty of the cameo glass, layer by layer.
It occurred to me that most of you don't know who we are, where we came from and how we came to be here, in your presence, today
In 1980, or so, Kelsey stumbled upon glass etching while restoring some antique furniture..... that evolved into a business of etching flat and architectural glass for places like Chi Chi's restaurants, furniture makers, framers, etc, etc..... having become dis-enchanted with the aerospace industry, I came to work for, and eventually became partners with Kelsey, in what was known then as Glass Expectations, Inc. about 1981, as I recall.....
Around 1985 a sales rep of ours got us involved with glassware, paperweights and bookends for a couple of college book stores, and during a trip to pick up some glass for the project, we ran across Pilgrim Glass Co. Long story short, we introduced ourselves, offered our decorating services to them and went home.
Shortly there after we started etching some of their vases and launched a great volume project of decorated crystal eggs, around 70,000 sold at the first show...... eventually leading us into the factory to "play", developing new items. A visit from another of our sales reps, with a book he found about English cameo glass, and we were LOST in a whole new world!
Things being what they are, we found ourselves in a financial "pinch", at one point, and sold the cameo carving process, the equipment and our services to train their people to do it, to Pilgrim. In 1987 we moved to Huntington, Wv and, as the saying goes, the rest is history...... we've been here ever since.
After Pilgrim retired their company we continued to work out of our house, but were being sought after by other glass companies to do for them what we did for Pilgrim..... we tried with 2 of them since Pilgrim, Glassworks and Fenton Glass Co..... alas, they were both too close to the edge to survive, and, once again we are working out of our studios at home..... we love the serenity here, the incredible beauty of these West Virginia hills.... mostly, though, we just LOVE to make cameo glass! And we are happy and proud so many of you love it as much as we do!