Best Glassblowing Schools in the US. Glass blowing is a craft that requires a great amount of time, practice, and materials to learn but has been around since the first century BCE. One of the greatest ways to start your long, prosperous career as a glassblower is to learn the craft at a respected school if you are really interested in creating glass-blown products.
For those interested in learning glass blowing, there are numerous program alternatives. Other non-degree alternatives include shorter-term community classes, certificate programs, and other non-degree options, in addition to the numerous associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs that various universities offer. Learning glassblowing entails studying how to be a skilled artist in addition to how to manipulate glass to produce visually appealing works. To do this, you must hone your networking abilities, advertise your glassware to potential customers, put together a strong portfolio, and many other things.
To discover the ideal glass blowing program for your ambitions, you must do your homework because they are not as prevalent as business, literary, and Science degrees, to name a few examples. Nonetheless, regardless of field of study, selecting the ideal school to attend may be a difficult and stressful process for many individuals. The following list of institutions with reputable glass blowing programs has been put together to help reduce some of this possible stress.
How Can I Learn Glassblowing?
There are several ways in which you can learn how to blow glass. You can look for colleges that provide individual glass blowing classes through a continuing or professional education department if you’d like to learn about the principles of glassblowing or how to produce your own glassware. Also, several university chemistry departments provide current students with scientific glassblowing seminars. A fine arts degree program in glass art and sculpture may be the best fit for you if you’re interested in majoring in glass or spending the majority of your schooling working with glass.
What Degree Programs Are Available?
There are associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in glass blowing available. With the option to focus on or take classes in glass sculpture, associate of fine arts degree programs typically last two years and include a comprehensive fine arts education in drawing, design, and art history. Such fundamental training is available as part of the 4-year bachelor’s degree alternatives. In contrast to associate’s degrees, several of these programs provide more facilities and offered courses.
What About A Graduate Degree?
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in this area can provide you with studio space, faculty mentors, and regular feedback while giving you with two to three years of study in both traditional and abstract glassblowing. Several MFA programs provide funding in the form of teaching assistantships and often hold student art exhibitions. Most programs end with a thesis project or final exhibition, which could require you to spend around one semester creating glass art on your own or with a mentor.
What Will I Learn In A Degree Program?
Art history, art theory, and beginning studio seminars are typically the first courses students take in degree programs in glass. Before moving on to advanced classes in glassblowing or glass sculpting, you will be introduced to a variety of media and techniques for creating and studying art objects. Topics for the course could include:
- Glass design
- Color theory
- Introduction to hot glass
- Cold working glass
- Neon light sculpture
- Glass casting
- Holiday ornaments
- Glass jewelry
- Sculptural techniques
- Sculpture materials
Can I Learn Glassblowing Online?
There is not any online teaching for glassblowing because it involves closely supervised contact with hazardous chemicals. There are a few low-residency MFA programs in sculpting that might provide glass workshops in addition to some online learning. However for equipment training and evaluations, these programs often involve on-campus residencies. Low-residency programs typically require a computer with Internet access for their online courses.
Best Glassblowing Schools in the US
Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
The Rhode Island School of Design is one of the nation’s oldest art and design institutions; it was founded in 1877. RISD has a lengthy history and has developed into a prestigious art school with some of the greatest instructors and programs in the nation.
A thriving glass department at RISD provides degree options for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students enrolled in glass courses at RISD can anticipate learning both the more technical and artistic facets of the craft in addition to the technical ones.
For instance, in Professor Sean Salstrom’s glass studio class, students are urged to walk around and use choreography as an inspiration for their glass creations.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, MA)
The Massachusetts College of Art and Design is one of the top art colleges in the state of Massachusetts and was the first public institution for the arts and design.
In fact, MassArts is listed as the seventh-best art school in the state and as the 76th-best art school in the nation in Niche’s 2023 rankings of art schools. Glassblowing at MassArt is available in two different degree programs. The bachelor of fine arts in glass is one of them. The degree curriculum includes every facet of glass as an art form, from glassblowing’s history and principles to modern, multidisciplinary issues. The university provides an MFA in 3D fine arts for graduate students. This program offers graduate students the opportunity to explore and refine their style through a variety of mediums and includes a wider spectrum of art forms than only glassblowing.
Temple University Tyler School of Art and Architecture (Philadelphia, PA)
The Tyler School of Art and Architecture is a renowned art school that is a part of Temple University, a sizable public research university in the center of Philadelphia. In terms of the availability of BFA programs, Temple University is ranked among the top 15% of colleges in the country by CollegeFactual.
Yet Tyler’s graduate glass programs are much better than their undergraduate counterparts, with the university having the second-best glassblowing MFA in the country.
The outstanding facilities at Tyler, which include a 10,000 square foot hot room, 16 kilns, four flame-working stations, and even a one ton crane for very big clay castings, are available to students in the school’s powerful glass program. Also, there are a number of art studios reserved for graduate and undergraduate major students.
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
The University of Washington has a history of innovation and inventiveness, and is recognized as the official origin of vinyl, synthetic rubber, and bubble gum. So, it is safe to presume that the UW School of Art, Art History, and Design provides excellent academic programs in the arts.
The extensive art curriculum at the UW School of Art includes a number of courses for majors and non-majors, and glass is only one of the numerous artistic mediums it covers. There are four faculty members in the school’s glass department as a whole. One of these is glass artist Mark Zirpel, whose work is highly renowned and heavily influenced by science, producing a visionary, interdisciplinary impact.
The Department of Physics also includes a cutting-edge glass shop for students who are interested in glassblowing from a more academic standpoint.
Several glass programs, ranging from more science-focused alternatives to creative degrees in the arts, are offered at Alfred University. The Sculpture/Dimensional Studies Division at Alfred University offers a bachelor of fine arts curriculum with a number of glass courses if students are interested in studying glassblowing from an artistic perspective.
The BFA curriculum aims to cover a wide range of three-dimensional media, but it also gives students the chance to work with cutting-edge glassblowing equipment while also learning about other types of art.
Alfred is home to renowned glass science and glass engineering departments, which are more on the scientific end of glass blowing. The National Casting Center’s hot glass studio is used by all of Alfred University’s glass programs.
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
Virginia Commonwealth University is home to an outstanding selection of glassblowing offerings and is steadfastly committed to creating insightful research and promoting creativity in higher education. The artistic process is known to involve trial and error, and VCU Arts encourages students to experiment freely as they form their own sense of artistic identity.
The institution offers an MFA in fine arts at the graduate level, allowing students to focus on glassworking. Similar to other institutions, VCU Arts also allows BFA students in the fine arts to focus on glassworking.
The glass facilities at VCU Arts are located in a former trolley station and glass factory and are made to support students working in both conventional and cutting-edge artistic mediums.
Illinois State University (Normal, IL)
The Wonsook Kim School of Art is located within Illinois State University, a public institution with more than 18,000 undergraduate students. Glass blowing is an important option that Wonsook offers to students pursuing both BS and BA degrees.
Students enrolled in the school’s undergraduate glass programs receive intense hands-on instruction in the core glass blowing processes, such as sand casting, flameworking, kiln casting, and many more. Also, pupils are taught about the background of glass and glassblowing.
Also, throughout their stay at the school, every student is required to establish a distinct, unmistakable artistic identity. John Miller, an accomplished glassblower and associate professor at the Wonsook Kim School of Art, is the driving force behind the glass programs there.
University of Texas at Arlington (Arlington, TX)
The University of Texas at Arlington, a sizable public research university that was formerly a part of the Texas A&M University system, offers a lot to offer students interested in obtaining a degree in glass blowing.
In specifically, UTA has two possibilities for glass degrees. The BA in art with an emphasis in glass studies is available to undergrads. UTA offers a masters degree in glassmaking. If you want to explore the intellectual side of glass blowing, UTA’s Art and Art History Department is a great school choice because it provides a variety of study programs in the arts.
More than 60 accomplished artists, academics, and art historians make up the school’s world-class faculty, which oversees all of the studio classes, academic courses, and research programs in glass.
Ball State University (Muncie, IN)
The 1918-founded public research university Ball State University offers a bachelor of fine arts degree program. Glass blowing is an option for students in this degree to concentrate in. Since 2011, the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass, a 9,254 square foot building with numerous roomy, high-quality glass studios, has served as the home of Ball State’s glass blowing program.
The Glick Center is accessible to all of the school’s art students, making it a great venue to experiment with different mediums and hone glassblowing skills.
Ball State University offers a variety of study abroad options that allow advanced glassblowing students to enhance their skills in the Czech Republic, Poland, and other overseas places.
Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
Tulane University offers the ideal setting for pursuing a degree in the creative arts because it is situated in New Orleans, a renowned center for culture and the arts. The biggest collegiate glassblowing studio in the southern United States is also located at Tulane.
The institution is renowned for stressing the use of glass as a sculpture-related aspect rather than a craft or a way to make useful products. Students at the undergraduate level have the option of studying glass as a BFA or as part of a bachelor of arts.
There is also an MFA focus in glass available to graduate students. The demanding two-year residency program for the glass MFA degree is run by Gene Koss, the department head for glass.
The free-blowing technique has been utilized extensively in glassmaking since since it was first introduced in the first century BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire and throughout the fifth century AD, European glass blowing traditions persisted.
With specialized equipment and breath, molten glass is shaped into complex shapes in the glass blowing process. If they are artistic, those looking for a creative job can find glass blowing appealing. But, glass blowing also has a scientific component in addition to its artistic component. This has influenced many inventions, such as the light bulb and early televisions.
Nowadays, glass blowing is used in the domains of advanced fiber optics, electrochemical cells, semiconductors, and fiber optics. Scientific glass blowing is a technique used in the fields of design, art, and science. The most recent technology is integrated with lathes and conventional hand methods.
Staff with many years of experience create and build research and development glassware in the glassblowing factory.
Both quartz and borosilicate glass can be used to create intricate machinery. Prior to developing advanced skills and gaining experience in this field, it is crucial to educate yourself. Enroll right away in a glassblowing course.
FAQs on Best Glassblowing Schools in the US
Can you make a career out of glass blowing?
Glass blowing may be an appealing career for artistic individuals who want a job that allows them to express themselves creatively. If you're interested in a career as a glass blower, it can be beneficial to learn more about the position to better prepare yourself.
How do you become a scientific glassblower?
After graduation, the students face a 7,000 to 8,000 hour apprenticeship period (approximately 4-6 years) to become a journeyman. It will take a decade more of experience before one can be considered a master glassblower. Alfred University is the only school in the US that offers a graduate program in Glass Science.
Where do glass makers work?
Modern glass blowers can still be found in art studios, but most work in small factories making mass-produced or customized glass products such as neon tubes or scientific glassware for laboratories. Glass blower salary varies according to specialization and work setting.
What education is needed for glass blowing?
Though no formal education is required, a glassblower may have a bachelor's degree in fine arts. Some colleges and universities offer architecture glass, stained glass, and ceramics courses.
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