In a small outdoor shed with handcrafted wooden shelves and just enough space to store materials and craft them, Alex Morningstar creates fully functional electric guitars out of glass.
He spends his hours there with earplugs to muffle the loud drumming of the Florida rain on the metal roof of the shed and a reused black garbage bag to stay dry amid the splashes and sprays of water as ‘he transforms sheets of glass into clear, mirrored musical instruments.
The morning star is a small independent designer in the local music and arts community and is approaching the first anniversary of starting his own business.
“It was an interesting trip,” he said. “I never really thought of myself as an artist; I just wanted, I wanted to build guitars… It’s kinda cool to be able to do something that makes you feel good.”
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How did it happen
The thirty-something hasn’t always planned to become a luthier as he is today. Although he and his wife, Cayla, both play guitar and enjoy rock music, like the tunes from Green Day and Buddy Holly, they both worked as biologists in Ohio, he said. .
When she got a job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission six years ago they moved to Gainesville. He also worked in science in town for biotech company Brammer Bio and the University of Florida before he was eventually fired and found a job in glass.
There, the idea occurred to him that he could make a guitar from this material. One random day at work, he spotted a piece of glass half an inch thick – thicker than he had ever seen before – and thought it would be perfect for a fretboard. .
He looked into the project and made his very first glass guitar in February 2019, impressing himself and his wife.
“I’ve always wanted to build my own guitar,” he said. “Every time I first built it I was like, ‘Oh man, this is so cool.'”
Cayla Morningstar agrees: “I thought it was pretty crazy that he wanted to do this … When he built one, I was so impressed.”
From there he decided to try to sell the handmade pieces. He has created a website, posted YouTube videos showing his crafting process, and reached out to other creators online to review his work and spread the word.
Morningstar made its first sale last August. Since then, he has sold about fifteen necks and guitars, including an order in Japan. The success surprised him, he said, mostly because he started his business during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
But it gave him hope, and Morningstar said he wanted to keep growing and eventually open his own gallery of glass guitars. Along the way, he wants to try building an acoustic glass guitar, find a way to lower his prices and connect with more artists, musicians and potential customers.
Journalist Danielle Ivanov covers University of Florida and General Mission. Contact her by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DanielleIvanov.