Bruce ‘Wild Man’ Suba – Master of Glass, Heart of Gold

28 July
Bruce and Crackle Tubes

by Museum Founder, Tod Swormstedt

Bruce Suba, Suba Neon of Scotts Valley, CA has been a good friend of the museum from the very beginning.  In fact his connection to founder Tod Swormstedt dates back to a 1984 cover story in Signs of the Times which featured Suba’s neon spark plug wires on a 1932 Ford hot rod.

Bruce’s first experience with glass was in 1979 doing stained glass, and his day job may be scientific glassblowing, but he’s equally at home bending neon—the wilder, the better whether it’s plasma globes, wireless neon, the aforementioned neon spark plug wires or crackle tubes.  In fact, he made a 22-in. tall, 6-in. diameter crackle tube for the museum which will be installed front-and-center in the museum’s lobby.

Bruce Suba - Crackle Tube

A frequenter of Bay Area flea markets, he’s always on the lookout for additions to the museum, neon or otherwise.  In fact, one of his most known donations is this circa 1920 watch repair trade sign:

Watch Trade Sign

He most recently donated this single-faced, porcelain enamel neon GE sign:

GE - Bruce Suba

Our Left Coast go-to guy coordinated the shipping and shrink-wrapping of the 1944 Dodge crane truck, donated by Quiel Brothers (see related story).  He not only researched car carrier shippers in the area, but suggested we shrink-wrap the truck and found a vendor who would do so.  He also drove to San Bernardino from Scotts Valley where the crane truck was, carting the crackle tube and GE sign so that they could be shipped with the truck.  This was after a separate trip to Crockett, CA to pick-up a donated miniature neon piece from Bill Concannon, which was described in the museum’s Spring 2014 newsletter.

Bruce has been working in glass in California for 33 years.  Always giving back, he has been the chairman for the Pacific Northwest chapter of the American Scientific Glassblowers Society for 16 years, organizing meetings at fellow glassblowers’ shops to share the art of scientific glassblowing.  Visit his web site and Facebook page.

Photo Courtesy Melissae Fellet

Photo Courtesy Melissae Fellet


Anyone who has ever met Bruce will deem him a “wild and crazy guy,” and he is, but it’s his heart of gold that you’ll most remember.  He’s long been a promoter of neon, and the museum especially, and one of the best friends you could have.  I always treasure his early morning phone calls, which seem to arrive just when you need them.


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