Glass blowing is an art form that has gone from overlooked to notoriety and popularity in the past few years thanks to documentaries and viral videos on the internet. It is a difficult thing to master, and very few people have the patience to learn and perfect its techniques.
Glass blowing has resulted in many great things: abstract art pieces, beautiful vases, ethereal light fixtures and mind bending designs for tobacco pipes. At some point in your life, you have admired with wide eyes or utilized an illustrious piece of glass that was handcrafted by someone with steady hands and god-like composure.
In North Carolina, glass blowing has maintained a thriving community of artists thanks to more showcases putting it in the spotlight and continued support from the community. This is because studio glass blowing got its start right here in western North Carolina in the 1970s.
There are many glass blowing studios in North Carolina, but one of the most notable studios and galleries is the NC Glass Center. The NC Glass Center is located in Asheville’s River Arts District and is a non-profit studio-gallery that aims to “educate, explore and collaborate in all forms of glass.”
This space has attracted many North Carolinians and out-of- state visitors abroad, allowing the space to truly preserve the art form’s history and reach out to many who may not have known about its workings and context.
If you are looking to check out some studio glass art here in Greensboro, the Greenhill Center for NC Art, located in downtown Greensboro, currently has a small exhibit on on display of some captivating glass designs within its In Focus Gallery, all of which are for sale. All of its designs come from a variety of artists who are involved with the NC Glass Center.
Some of the artists such as Hayden Wilson, Ben Greene-Colonnese, Emily Powell, Stephanie McCune, Haley Jelinek and Asheville Glass Center co-founder, Alex Greenwood, are fellow North Carolinians who all specialize in a variety of techniques and aesthetics within glass blowing, both functional and artistic.
Some of the other artists such as Joseph Falzone, Alison Chism, Signe Ballew, John
Almaguer and Kathryn Adams studied or discovered glass blowing in other points in life, but found that they have a deep love for western North Carolina’s unique lifestyle and culture and decided to call this place home.
If you have a few hours to spare, the NC Glass Center also offers classes taught by a few of the aforementioned artists that can cost as little as $60 or upwards of $600. These classes target a variety of skill sets from beginner, “30 minute Make Your Own! Glass Experience” class, to the more advanced, “Spring Medley” in which you will craft two glass flowers and a vase.
If you or a friend already have a bit of experience under your belt, you could also rent out a studio space at the NC Glass Center. Their Hot Shop, Cold Shop and Flameworking Shop can be rented along with amenities and tools, starting at $10 and getting up to $40.
Additionally, the North Carolina Glass Center is expanding its territory and has a new studio under construction. To see a sample of some of the work, visit the Greenhill Center for NC Arts located downtown near Lebauer Park, or visit http://www.greenhillnc.org/hours-admission to view the hours of visitation.
If you want to plan a trip to Asheville to check out the North Carolina Glass Center’s studio, visit them online at http://www.ncglasscenter.org for more information on pricing for classes, studio rentals and more. You can visit them any day of the week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and check out their galleries and studio spaces.