Glassblowers dedicate themselves to unique medium

Lizzy Filine, Arts Writing Editor


Behind each cool, smooth colored piece of glass lies hours of heat, careful handling and thought.

Although glassblowing is challenging, it provides a medium for self-expression and dedication. Glasswork takes on different styles depending on the artist’s preference.

Senior Jess Newman said she became intrigued by glassblowing when watching glass blowers at a studio in Stowe, Vermont. Newman said that she took her first glassblowing course there when she was ten years old.

“It was a two hour course, and it was me and about two other people there. I was so excited because I knew and was watching people do this. I picked up things really fast,” Newman said.

Newman said she started glassblowing on a regular basis when she found out there was a nearby studio, Diablo’s Glass School, in Jamaica Plain.

“Every weekend, I had one-on-ones. My dad would drop me off and I would be there for six hours, and make a ton of beads. I bought my own glass. I used to do it all the time,” Newman said.

Sophomore Joseph Clark, who began glassblowing during a summer program at Bird Street Glassblowers, said that glassblowing allows him to learn patience and optimism.

“There are times when thermal shock and the lack of heat in the art you’re making could crack your entire piece, and everything you’ve been working on for half an hour or an hour will fall apart in your face,” Clark said. “Sometimes that can get to you, but you can’t let that get to you. You have to persevere, stay positive.”

Sophomore Katherine Reyes learned torch blowing, which is a form of glassblowing, at a summer art camp. Reyes said she enjoys working with glass pieces like pendants and goblets.

“I used to do glassblowing, but I started to work more with glass torching. I like working with small things. It’s more personal,” Reyes said.

Reyes said that glassblowers should be wary of unanticipated color changes from heat or changes in oxygen levels.

“It’s really annoying when you’re looking at a red,” Reyes said. “Reds and yellows and oranges burn under the heat. You have to have a very precise and have a small frame to handle reds and oranges. You may go in and burn your orange and it looks really ugly. And you don’t want that. You have to measure out the amount of hydrogen and oxygen that you put into the torch.”

Clark said that although he used to plan for his glass pieces, he has started to take a more creative approach to glassblowing and allows the art come to him naturally.

“When I started I used to think about what I wanted to make a lot,” Clark said. “I was very strategic about how to make it and what I wanted it to look like, and now it’s a whole lot more free-flowing.”

Clark said that his skills as a glassblower opened new opportunities for him, for example, a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York with his program.

“It was a lot a lot of fun,” Clark said. “I remember bonding really well with the other boys in that cohort and just learning a lot about the history of glass and how it’s transferred from all the way dating from ancient Roman times to modern times now. It was really eye-opening. It makes you see other things.”