In March 2014, third-generation glassmaker Umberto Tofoni had an idea to create something unusual while being inspired by work his grandfather had conceived in a glass factory in Porto Sant’Elpidio, Italy. He made a bow tie.
“I was totally influenced by my grandfather and my father’s work,” Tofoni says via a translator.
Tofoni received his art degree but did not want to assume his family’s role when working with glass and mirrors. He says he doesn’t follow any trends when creating his pieces, and he doesn’t come up with ideas pencil-to-paper. His inspiration comes from ideas he gets from his surroundings. “Tradition with innovation is the most important key of [my] brand,” he said. After taking a piece of waste glass from the factory, carving and molding it on his own, he created a sandblasted-glass bowtie.
“It all started seven years ago. I was in our workshop with my father, who was cutting a mirror, giving it the silhouette of a person. At that precise moment, I got the inspiration: I took a piece of waste glass from a previous process and carved the shape of a bow tie. The first result was a bit rough, but I decided to wear it myself at a party with friends and the success was simply sensational! That experience made me realize that I had created an object with great potential.”
The bowties are manufactured using the Ghibli sandblasting machine from the Italian machinery manufacturer Fratelli Pezza.
“I have been using the Ghibli sandblasting cabin manufactured by Fratelli Pezza for years now, and I must say that I am really happy with it, I need cleanliness and precision when I sandblast my Poculum and this sandblaster is perfectly fit to it,” Tofoni says. Sandblasting each piece allows Tofoni to make each bowtie one-of-a-kind with the ability for customers to customize them. His glass bowties have been featured in Vogue, Men’s Fashion Week in Toronto and used by Amato Couture in 2017 to complete several outfits, according to a press release.