ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — “I’m gonna be making a pony,” said glassblower Benjamin Elliott, who has a little more than a minute before the handful of molten glass he is turning on the tip of a metal rod solidifies.

What You Need To Know

  • The "Paradise City" exhibit at the Chihuly Collection will be open to the public through June 15

  • The Chihuly Collection is located at 720 Central Ave., in St. Petersburg

  • The Morean Glass Studio and Hot Shop is located at 714 First Ave. N., in St. Pete

With long tweezers and pliers, he pulls out the shape of a horse from the glass blob — a head, a snout, ears, a mane, legs and a tail — all the while keeping the rod moving.

“You have to do it fast," Elliott said. "There’s no other way."

Elliott is a demonstration artist at the Morean Glass Studio and Hot Shop in St. Petersburg.

His job is practicing his art, and as quickly as he completes the little horse, he drops it into a bin of other other broken would-be art pieces.

“As long as the glass is clear, we can throw it right back into the furnace and use it again for another piece,” he said.

Some of the pieces Elliott keeps are in the studio, and they in turn keep him fed and clothed.

“I’m very, very lucky that I’m not homeless,” he said.

His art feeds him, and the Morean offers what he enjoys.

“Being around the community, and working with other artists with similar goals and aspirations,” Elliott said.

That includes artists like Sue Graef, a painter from Clearwater.

Elliott collaborated with Graef for the exhibit currently showing at the nearby Chihuly Collection called “Paradise City.

“The glass work is gorgeous, and it really compliments my work” said Graef, standing in front of the cityscapes she paints in bright, bold colors.

Elliott’s vessels look like Graef’s skyscrapers, displayed in front of her work.

“The chief curator did a fabulous job matching this up,” said Graef.

For Elliott, the exhibit is a chance to expose more people to glass making, and the hot shop is a chance to show off the process — especially for children.

“Whenever you show a kid hot molten glass like this, they freak out,” said Elliott.

Elliott didn’t see any of this until he was 20.

“Their eyes pop up. They freak out," he said. "And I just wished somebody — when I was their age — would have shown it to me."