Shoes decorated with cigar rings? A ringed trumpet played joyfully by Carlito Fuente Jr.? Cigar accessories spruced up with cigar bands? Nothing is safe from him, nothing seems impossible: Robert Glick transforms everyday things into
the extraordinary – using cigar bands.
In recent months, special works of art, particularly on social media, have amazed the cigar community. They are objects from everyday life that magically attract the viewer but especially the passionado. Robert Glick is the author of the photos and creator of these pieces. He is master of thousands of cigar rings that, thanks to him, find a new home on objects of daily life – rather than finding their way into a trash can.
Cigar Journal visited him in his studio on Long Island and learned that wherever paper will stick, there’s potential for Glick to create a work of art.
“I’ve been smoking cigars since I graduated from law school; that was 35 years ago,” the lawyer, who lives near New York, tells us. “I bought my first cigars at a street fair; I’ve loved this hobby ever since,” he goes on to recall. We’re sitting in the light-filled lounge in his home, tasting our way through Robert’s own brand of cigars, called Kinship, and surrounded by his works. Humidors, cutters, lighters, figurines, a clarinet, a clock, and more, all splashed with bright colors and harmonious patterns; studded with cigar rings. Among other things, there’s a tall glass jar in Glick’s lounge. It’s the vessel in which he started collecting and displaying the bands that started his passion; it’s the jar in which Robert collects the bands of all the cigars he smokes at home. Because he was sorry to have to dispose of these little works of art, he started sticking them on coasters about seven years ago. “It took hold of me straight away, and I just wanted to continue with it,” he says.
For a long time now, Glick has not only been processing “his” cigar bands, but he also receives many small treasures from various sources for further refinement. Matador Cigars, for example, collects cigar bands for him, some manufacturers send their own rings, and various passionados scattered throughout the United States supply him with their collections, especially since he has become an Instagram star on the scene. Procigar Festival’s annual auction also suddenly made Glick even more famous. For this year’s auction, he created a humidor that fetched USD 18,000 [approx. EUR 16,000]. Since then, Robert has been inundated with requests, and now more than ever he has to carefully decide how to spend his limited time – and for what price.
THE RAINBOW PRINCIPLE
As a partner in a law firm, his workday starts at 8am, but by then Robert has already spent four hours working in his studio. Or he has been sorting rings – which happens about two or three times a year. This is when most surfaces in his house are covered with bands, because Glick needs daylight to be able to exactly match the colors. He groups the rings by brand and by rainbow color. Also during this process – just as when he’s placing the rings on the objects – the artist forgets the time. “I think it’s been 10 minutes, but four hours have passed, and I don’t realize it. It’s like meditation; nothing exists around me. I’m so focused that I can’t think of anything else except the flow of colors and the design.”
LEARNING BY DOING
Glick taught himself how to “ring” an object in the most artful way. Comparing his early works with those of today, a quantum leap is noticeable when they are viewed up close: the transitions flow, there are no breaks, edges or disharmonies to be seen. “I have to make very fine cuts, almost like a surgeon; my tools are like a watchmaker’s tools,” Robert says. He never glues the bands on top of each other but precisely to each other. The object itself determines how the rings are pasted – that is, where the starting point is. The artist also invents his own patterns, namely when he uses only one type of ring.
In addition to objects, Glick also creates images. In this series, he created works depicting the American flag, in which Padrón rings exclusively adorn the stars and stripes of the flag. “Since I met Robert a few years ago, I’ve observed what great passion he puts into his works. He understands – unlike others – what an art it is to make cigars. From this understanding, he creates new art. I have great respect for what he creates, and it fascinates me,” Jorge Padrón, president of Padrón Cigars, tells us. To make the rings stick to the objects – and in such a way that an object such as an ashtray or a lighter can actually be used – Glick invented his own glue. But he keeps the formula a secret. What he does disclose to us, however, are the three things, those three “Ps” that are absolutely necessary to create works of art like his: “Passion, patience, and placement.” Skills that are similar to the ones that a cigar maker also has to possess.
There are no limits for Glick. After the transformation of the trumpet for Carlito Fuente was a great success, artistically as well as having been a surprise for the well-known manufacturer, Robert is now negotiating to ring an entire piano.
Everything has ripened to perfection, but there’s one thing the artist is still working on: letting go. “The works are like my kids. Selling them is hard for me; I don’t give them to just anyone and not for any price. It just has to fit.”
Originally posted on October 17, 2023 @ 9:17 am