When I was just a wee art nerd, my high school art teacher Debbie Munson urged me to volunteer for the Hilltop Artists glassblowing program at Jason Lee Middle School in Tacoma, the same program seen in the video above.
In exchange for helping out with the younger kids in the program, I was able to learn a a thing or two about making glass art. We might have come from different neighborhoods or schools, but we all spent a few afternoons a week hanging out in the hot shop making ornamental glass pieces that were auctioned off to benefit Hilltop Artists.
Blowing glass is not only dangerous, but complicated. Seeing kids execute the delicate choreography associated with making glass art is truly inspiring. Too hot, and the glass will turn into a puddle, too cold and it will crack and shatter. While there are other after school youth programs out there, I think programs like this that engage kids on many levels should be heralded.
The overall experience has made a lasting impact on the way I think about craftsmanship and the importance of an artistic community. I feel lucky to have learned an art form that not every teen, or even adult, gets an opportunity to experience up close and personal. More than that, I feel fortunate to have been involved with a program with such an inspiring mission and one that continues to provide these unique experiences.
To keep me from getting too nostalgic about it, here’s a ridiculous picture of me trying to look really cool while I try to not singe off too much of my arm hair. To this day, the hair on my left hand still grows a little strangely…
Hard to believe that was 12 years ago, harder still to think that it took 16 years for local television to pick up the story. Have you been involved in a creative outreach program? Share in the comments!