Posted February 12, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion

Glass Blowing: Not Just for Bongs

Illustration by RUBY THOMPSON

Illustration by RUBY THOMPSON

Student Submission


Are you a student, staff, or faculty member interested in learning more about glass art? Well, you’re not alone. Anyone in the community interested in learning more about glass art should join in and help me persuade faculty, admissions, and the deans that a glass art program would benefit Evergreen students beyond the stereotypical notion that greeners would only take the program to create pipes and bongs.

My very first introduction to glass art was actually at Evergreen. A couple years ago I had the privilege of getting into a two credit evening and weekend program, Neon: Shaping Light. This lampworking introduction changed the way I look at art, light, and glass. To learn through the grapevine that the program is no longer running really upset me. The class was always super competitive to get into, but it was a true diamond in the rough for our visual art curriculum. We need to first bring back our preexisting glass programs, and then continue to build on them.
Last spring, I had the opportunity to intern at Pilchuck Glass School, located up north in Stanwood, WA. What little time I spent at the school introduced me to the captivating physical and visual properties glass possesses. Glass art is relatively new to me. I got to gather glass for the first time in Pilchuck’s hot shop on a staff blow day. During my internship as a maintenance assistant I was introduced to glass blowing, sand casting, and was exposed to a minute lampworking demo. Being part of Pilchuck’s creative community was very stimulating – it exposed me to a wide range of artist demonstrations, lectures, and many networking opportunities.

This year, I was nominated for the Pilchuck partner scholarship through The Evergreen State College – as it turns out, Pilchuck and Evergreen are partner institutions. Every year, institutions that partner with Pilchuck are invited to select a member or student to receive a partial scholarship to Pilchcuk. I would have never known about that opportunity if I didn’t approach a faculty member about attending Pilchuk for the internship last year.
I have been recently informed that the Evergreen Longhouse has future plans to build a glass-casting program as a part of the Master of Fine Arts curriculum in Indigenous Studies. Even though my undergraduate studies are ending soon (I am a senior this year), I hope I can continue to be around Olympia and the Evergreen community beyond graduation, since I have a strong interest in seeing this program grow. I have submitted a volunteer form to the Longhouse staff offering my manual labor, volunteer hours, and services to this glass program. I know it would be a real treat to give some assistance while learning more about our campus’ Longhouse.

The involvement I’ve had with Pilchuck’s programs and Evergreen’s neon studio have inspired me to get a conversation started about a glass program here at Evergreen. I know Greeners are interested in learning more about glass art, and I really think our visual art department could use the program.
I think every Greener deserves to know about this opportunity. I would love to see more Evergreen students attending Pilchuck over the next few years. Pilchuck’s summer sessions are predominantly filled with BFA and MFA students and alumnus who have earned their degrees in glass art. It would be fascinating to see what Evergreen’s population could bring to the creative community at Pilchuk.  I think we should team up with the Campus Land Use Committee at Evergreen and figure out a way to make space for a glass art studio and a public glass facility. I know this vision will take a lot of time, energy, and, of course, funding, but we have to start somewhere. I believe the Geoduck Student Union and other student organizations are the perfect settings to expand on this idea to our fellow peers. I think motivated Evergreen students should manifest their own Student Originated Studies in glass art or three dimensional studies. Until we can secure a space for studios and equipment, why can’t we encourage students to take independent learning contracts to help build the initial experimental furnaces, annealers, and glory holes?

The Museum of Glass and other glass educational institutions have fully equipped mobile glass hot shops that are designed to travel right to your doorstep for entertainment and educational purposes. Perhaps something of this scale, with basic equipment and minimal setup, could get more Evergreeners involved with glass. The students that I have started to reach out to have a strong desire to investigate various glass forming methodologies and material prosperities. I recently posted a handful of flyers reaching out to the Evergreeners interested in glass. So far I have received a few responses and inquiries interested in helping me spread the word about getting hot glass on campus.

If you, or someone you know is interested in bringing back neon bending or learning more about glass blowing, lampworking, stain glass, slumping, or cold working, let’s do something about it.
If these classes resonate with you or sound remotely interesting, please, let’s get in touch. This effort is going to take an immense amount of involvement from the community. If we continue to leave this medium untapped, we may be robbing a generation of Evergreen students from realizing their potential in fine arts studies.
You can contact Sophie Krauza for more information at