"The Wake of the Wind & Tidewater"
This was a period of great personal change when a move to Virginia
Beach, Virginia lead to living in a home by the sea.
One day after a storm, a northeaster, many pieces of strange and wonderfully
shaped driftwood made an appearance on the early morning sunlit shore.
These were the impetus for etched glass top coffee tables of nautical
splendor. Etched with undersea wildlife, treasure maps, sailboats, and
ghost ships, top dressed with stemware and mugs to match the motif.
"A Crystal Embellishment of The American Motor
& Hollywood Calling"
Just about the time the driftwood was running out, custom vans were
showing up everywhere. Once again etched glass came into play for the
artist. Auto glass would be the dominant medium for several years to
come, leading to the artist becoming an itinerant and the practitioner
of an original calligraphy and scrimshaw style miniatures that would
adorn some very beautiful automobiles from coast to coast to coast.
With stints in Pittsburgh and Denver, the artist continued west in the
summer of '77. Quietly slipping into Hollywood, slowly making a name
employing his ancient craft, and working at Fellinis on Melrose in between
gigs ("before the bar").
One job in particular would garner praise and publicity for the artist
and his handcraft come the following spring while savoring that sunny
southern California way.
One day out of the blue a call came from Barris Kustom of North Hollywood.
George Barris wanted some special glass etching after seeing samples
of the artist's mix-media methods.
These were to grace the windows of Zsa Zsa Gabor's "gold" Sedenca, Rolls
Royce to be featured in the upcoming '78 Auto Expo and they had to be
done in 2 days.
Having some serious vertical scratches on both rear door glass, it was
time for some quick thinking by the young street artist. Simplicity
ruling and following the body contour, he opted for sandblasting a 2"
border with an adjacent 1/4" pinstripe inside until the scratches were
This made the window viewing area considerably smaller yet created a
feeling of intimacy throughout the entire automobile.
Then came the introduction of the butterfly, the rose, the hummingbird,
and other discreet cuts to bring life to the effort. All was well with
"Another Bite of the Apple & Itchy Feet Ride Again"
Hollywood was a very interesting and entertaining sojourn not lived
long enough to suit the artist, but family obligations called him back
east to take on the 80's.
So diverse was this decade, both personally and professionally, that
the artist running for his life stumbled and lost his youth. On the
road, balancing a "where-the-work-is kind of schedule lasted a few more
years in New York and New Jersey, spending more time in Virginia Beach
and St. Louis.
Again, family matters and a desire to settle into a studio would beckon.
In the autumn of '82 Rich returned to his hometown in New Jersey; crafting
his glass works in the New York metropolitan area.
On the crest of publicity received in the late 70's and early 80's,
a credible reputation began to emerge on a higher scale.
It seems that itchy feet and the hit and miss condition formed by the
artist's quicksilver movement from one venue to another, was making
a dynamic take shape in the status of his elusiveness.
Here (at the artists' request) caution is taken when using the word
"legendary", but almost. This guy really got around, did excellent work,
and had the respect of men who worked with their hands.
"Because He Could Be Found"
In an effort to stabilize on a momentum, Bobby Rich moved into a
studio/craft shop format late winter of '86.
Now, because he could be found, toasting glasses and mirrors were a
constant through the years. Making this transition to studio artist
would mean demands were more varied as were the accommodations employed
for the eclectic tastes of his clientele.
The following are a few examples in the name of namedropping:
Barris Kustom; North Hollywood, California; George Barris;
Shirley Barris-Boat Back Excalibur;
Zsa Zsa Gabor-Sedenca-Rolls Royce.
Capezio-The Famous Capezio Clown
Hand Etch-One of a Kind Cut
Fellinis Restaurant; Hollywood, California
Hand Etch Stage Mirror "After the Bar"
N.F.L. Licensee & Product Development
Logo Series; New York Giants
Deep Carved Glass
Marvel Comics-Ghost Rider Motorcycle
Hand Etch Mirrors
Unveiled at Harley-Davidson Café
New York City
Trump Taj Mahal
Limited Edison Logo
Dom Pérignon (Champagne Gift)
This diversity would exist into and throughout the
"The Loving Hands of an Artist"
Now besides all these things that are done, and constant experimentation with his animated champagne glass. Handicraft cuts and logistics were also being applied for product development on a railroad Mr. Rich was building.
But this is for a another discussion.
(Check out railroad page on this website. Or you can go to urban legend railroad. www.urbanlegendrailroad.com)
Finding himself in the 90's, the artist found himself in his 40's
and in a zone of getting lost in a high-tech shuffle by an imposing
threat of computer generated engraving machines, and the many technological
misunderstands following their advent into this medium. A ubiquitous
advent at that, these gadgets are still everywhere.
All things in their place and proper perspective, this method is good
for trophy shops with awards and the like.
But not for romance, not when you really mean it. Rob Rich was taking
his time to study the landscape and hold true to the art. Once again
his reputation for free form calligraphy and miniatures came to the
fore, through human understanding.
A calligraphy crisp and romantic with starburst highlights, and the
miniatures reminiscent of the little things you saw, and the feeling
you got the first time you looked through the other end of a telescope.
A 19th Century trick of the eye brought to you by the mind and the heart
of a mystic artisan, soon seen when these tiny murals are held to the
In closing the decade, day by day the compass was pointing towards building
a website accompanied by a nuts and bolts facility 7 years in construction
and still counting.
With a commitment to craft by loving hands and ancient skills, the artist
would take these ways to the new century, where the future is still
"The Turn of the Century, The Leaf, & The Wheel"
The winds of change, a century turning, and the artist coming to
50 years of age found he could cast anchor in fresh perspectives.
Now a vessel of occurrence and some longevity himself, it was time for
some slow thinking by the old artist. Yet work was at hand and it was
full time to the toast.
Establishing a vanguard collection of misty lit flutes worthy of the
honest search by those sworn to the quest and extending an invitation
to a down-to-earth modestly sophisticated clientele who know and seek
handcraft in all its primitive forms.
Speaking of primitive forms, this was the artist's condition when stranded
on the island of the technologically anachronistic and it was time to
build a website. Nevertheless, retaining pre-eminence in his own genre
it was at this juncture he would assemble a crew of indigenous on-line
professionals to bring his art to the world.
When asked to convey his theme, ideals, goals, and policy, it seemed
naturally conclusive to format his response as the beginning and the
end of this transcript.
Like the circumnavigation of some message in a bottle....his first and
last words would be.....
Please design a website and craft a text nautical and 19th Century in
flavor. Recognize the client's quest for a toasting vessel of genuine
article and treasure. Provide a map as it were; charting a course for
Call it Vessel Quest.
Make it simple, and sincere, stressing handcraft. Show the life as
a journey on the sea of time, praying for peace, and lifting a glass
to truth, beauty, reason and rhyme.
BIOGRAPHY - Robert Joseph Rich
Story and Text by
Micky Nidgit - Mechanical Verse
Bobby Joe's - Storyboard Journey
Text and Website Copyright © 2005-2014 Robert Joseph Rich
Passing on a craft with knowledge, understanding,
and the spirit of same stands as the main goal of
this website material. Something Educational...
...and presented in a Museum format.
After more than 45 years of developing products,
slogans, and atmospheres for others, and clients,
research and product development would be
geared now towards "Students of the Etch" and
support for the work on the websites photography,
and of the curatorial responsibilities for the
At present and for the past 15 years since the year
2000 Mr. Rich has been piecing together a
"Glass Etch Practice Video Tutorials"
If you are sincerely interested in learning the many
secrets to this craft and you are willing to put your
money where your mouth is, then please
study the School page on this website.