Shop Etsy

Creative Outreach: Glassblowing for Teens

Apr 15, 2010

by objecked

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.

Some of the ornaments I learned to make are similar to the piece to the right, by kitpaulson, and many other blown glass ornaments found on Etsy.

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.

ERIC_glass282-2.jpgThe 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!

Creative Glass Guild of Etsy | Etsy Glass Artists Team | More Glass Posts



  • Ebruk

    Ebruk said 10 years ago

    Great job.Congrats.

  • laurelinsailor

    laurelinsailor said 10 years ago

    Wow that's cool! Chapeau!

  • pinkdandyshop

    pinkdandyshop said 10 years ago

    That is way cool!

  • JessicaTorrant

    JessicaTorrant said 10 years ago

    What a great program, I loved the video and your own personal story Eric. I don't know what I would have done without the art room to hide out in in high school!

  • shannonbatescreates

    shannonbatescreates said 10 years ago

    This is a fabulous article. I went to college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, and although I didn't know about this project at the time, our music building had a bunch of art by Dale Chihuly there. I've always been fascinated by glass arts, and this is a truly inspiring article. :)

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 10 years ago

    Beautiful story! I have never been invulved in a creative outreach program, just outreach.

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 10 years ago


  • aisle3studio

    aisle3studio said 10 years ago

    that's awesome! i love glassblowing

  • studio3ten

    studio3ten said 10 years ago

    this is GREAT !!! love to see young people have interests in all things creative.....

  • LulaMatilda

    LulaMatilda said 10 years ago

    Thanks for this story. You're right, Eric, not too many people get to experience glass blowing! Thanks to you, I have, at least a little bit.

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 10 years ago

    such an incredible craft and art. i love this article!

  • desertnana

    desertnana said 10 years ago

    This is so wonderful! Does the program have an Etsy shop?

  • papercutworks

    papercutworks said 10 years ago

    These pieces are gorgeous! There is a glass blowing studio near my home - I walk past it every day walking my dog... I love peaking in through the windows & seeing glass artists work! I also love the Tacoma Glass Museum - a magical place! We're lucky in the Northwest!

  • ElasIdea

    ElasIdea said 10 years ago

    This is inspiring. What a great way to keep kids from getting into mischief.

  • CarryTheWord

    CarryTheWord said 10 years ago

    That is wonderful!

  • elemegibere

    elemegibere said 10 years ago

    The art of glass blowing is very creative! I want to learn good

  • elemegibere

    elemegibere said 10 years ago

    The art of glass blowing is very creative! I want to learn good

  • TheArtOfJoy

    TheArtOfJoy said 10 years ago

    Sooo Cool!

  • greencouchdesign

    greencouchdesign said 10 years ago

    Beautiful, I love blown glass, it's just such an amazing art. Thanks for sharing.

  • SeaFindDesigns

    SeaFindDesigns said 10 years ago

    So cool!!!

  • helenapuck

    helenapuck said 10 years ago

    What a wonderful story and such a meaningful program. I haven't seen people glassblowing since I visited Venice. Thanks for sharing such a great personal story.

  • terri4404

    terri4404 said 10 years ago

    Thank you for your energy to teach kids a craft. This world needs more like your group. I also would like to learn glass blowing. Its beautiful.

  • GreenRoomStudios

    GreenRoomStudios said 10 years ago

    I wish my area had programs like this when I was a kid... heck, I wish my area had programs like this now! Finding creative outlets when I was younger was super difficult, you were very fortunate to have been able to be a part of such a great program, Eric! Lucky you!

  • aemcdraw

    aemcdraw said 10 years ago


  • StudioZen

    StudioZen said 10 years ago

    What a great article! The Museum of Glass is located in Tacoma and you can see beautiful glass works integrated into many buildings in the area.

  • carolinedousi

    carolinedousi said 10 years ago

    So, that's cool!

  • Venbead

    Venbead said 10 years ago

    I sure wish i had a 30 year jump start on this craft like these kids have. wonderful!

  • boutiqueseragun

    boutiqueseragun said 10 years ago

    I love this article..

  • LeslieN

    LeslieN said 10 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your experience and the video. What a wonderful reminder of how giving something back to the community benefits everyone involved. At the risk of reading like a greeting card: Programs like this make the world a better place. :-) Looking forward to seeing more beautiful pieces from the next generation of Hilltop Artist. Peace

  • LeahPellegrini

    LeahPellegrini said 10 years ago

    Here in Portland Oregon I have teach at a glass studio call Aquila Art Glass that offers all sorts of outreach in the community. Over the years I have taught a few classes for highschool students in a program called "In Focus" - kids on the path towards dropping out enroll in this program to find structure and goals in their life. Some students obtained grants to come blow glass at the studio. We regularly host get togethers for the community to make pendants to donate to local children's hospital. One of the other teachers at the studio works with the Candle Lighters association to bring glass art into the lives of children dieing of cancer. There is something wonderful about working glass with children. Just last week I had a 7th grade student in a class learning to make beads. She goes to a local Waldorf School and she is going to do her 8th grade project on glass. She was so small and cute playing with fire, making her very own first glass beads.

  • GoodGriefGlass

    GoodGriefGlass said 10 years ago

    Fantastic! What a great opportunity.

  • kissadesign

    kissadesign said 10 years ago

    How inspiring! Thanks for sharing :)

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 10 years ago

    i love this story! our creativity can help someone else! thanks for inspiring!

  • Simoneqdm

    Simoneqdm said 10 years ago

    So cool, programmes like that and the people who run them are amazing. Loving the glass mushrooms.

  • 1dream

    1dream said 10 years ago

    Thank you for sharing..Amazing...The fire is dancing with glass.

  • VerreDesign

    VerreDesign said 10 years ago

    Ah! Glass! My favorite medium:)

  • GemmaBeads

    GemmaBeads said 10 years ago

    I love this!! How wonderful for the kids to learn something so fantastic! Excellent!

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose said 10 years ago

    What a wonderful program for those kids...very fortunate. I didn't realize when I first saw this feature that it was begun by Chihuly, but I thought of him immediately. Here in Phoenix his work can be seen at the Desert Botanical Gardens, so if you make a trip to Arizona and love to see glass, you definitely need to see this exhibit. Just visit for the details and to see some pictures of his work.

  • wishartglass

    wishartglass said 10 years ago

    That's a great story! I wish I'd learned to blow glass in high school! I don't have story to share, but I would love to be involved in a similar program. I'll have to check local possibilities.

  • GeniusJewels

    GeniusJewels said 10 years ago

    Great story!

  • pattispolkadots

    pattispolkadots said 10 years ago


  • purevintageclothing

    purevintageclothing said 10 years ago

    Yay! Tacoma!

  • weescreamvintage

    weescreamvintage said 10 years ago

    I absolutely love this article. Best article ever!

  • MinceCo

    MinceCo said 10 years ago

    hats off to glass artists :)

  • PhoenixFinery

    PhoenixFinery said 10 years ago

    It's amazing what a little encouragement can do!

  • Blinkett

    Blinkett said 10 years ago

    Great article and wonderful story.

  • dvinedesigns

    dvinedesigns said 10 years ago

    wonderful program!!

  • graycat26

    graycat26 said 10 years ago

    Wow, this is really cool! Thanks for sharing :)

  • MagicLace

    MagicLace said 10 years ago

    Beautiful and inspiring -thank you so much for sharing!

  • whiletheyplay

    whiletheyplay said 10 years ago

    Very inspiring video! What a fine group of young kids. :)

  • PassionMoonPotions

    PassionMoonPotions said 10 years ago

    Wow! These are amazing!

  • dkshattuck

    dkshattuck said 10 years ago

    Fantastic on so many levels and for so many people. Thanks for sharing.

  • MadeJustForYou

    MadeJustForYou said 10 years ago

    Thats soo cool that this is on etsy!! I just saw these kids on the local television station the other day!

  • voleurdebijoux

    voleurdebijoux said 10 years ago

    Amazing story! Love this inspiring article about the value of sharing art with kids! :)

  • evihan

    evihan said 10 years ago

    wowww as Lampworker...I am sooo impresseddd

  • beadstylin

    beadstylin said 10 years ago

    That is amazing and so inspiring! Wonderful program!!

  • dafnadagan

    dafnadagan said 10 years ago

    this is grate what an inspiration. good luck!!!

  • Jatt

    Jatt said 10 years ago


  • steinschmuckdesign

    steinschmuckdesign said 10 years ago


  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle said 10 years ago


  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 10 years ago

    Great post my mum works with Glass. The town where I live, Sunderland, has always been renound for its glass. We used to have a Pyrex factory here in Sunderland where many pieces where hand blown by skilled craftsmen.

  • AnnaLela

    AnnaLela said 10 years ago

    great job !!!

  • mazuli83

    mazuli83 said 10 years ago

    thats lovely :)

  • lunahoo

    lunahoo said 10 years ago

    Great article about the blowing glass,It's beautiful!!!

  • ginaregina

    ginaregina said 10 years ago

    wonderful program

  • cyndal59

    cyndal59 said 10 years ago

    Wonderful works!

  • BellaLili

    BellaLili said 10 years ago

    What a great outreach program. Creativity is a great outlet for teens and kids to get them to do something fun. Love the article.

  • tomatored

    tomatored said 10 years ago

    very nice-thanks so much!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 10 years ago

    what a great program, thanks for letting us see the video. it seems to be getting more publicity lately, along with glass fusing. i have always wanted to try the art.

  • lisaroy

    lisaroy said 10 years ago

    I've always wanted to learn to make blown glass! : )

  • fiddledds

    fiddledds said 10 years ago

    This program is so awesome! The video is fantastic! Thank you for sharing! :)

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 10 years ago

    What a fab's a controlled dangerous that teens really need. Nice piece.

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy said 10 years ago

    What a great program! As a collector of glass art, I find the process fascinating.

  • rerunzvintageshop

    rerunzvintageshop said 10 years ago

    Very Cool!!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 10 years ago

    Gratifying as it is that there are fabulous programs like this out there to reach out to "troubled teens" I still find it sad that all the kids who are well behaved, well brought up & hard working don't seem to have any chance of doing anything special. So kids, if you want to be offered the opportunity of learning something as interesting & life changing as working with glass, start skipping school, be disruptive & a bad influence, then you'll get chances like this offered to you on a plate.

  • barefo0tmama

    barefo0tmama said 10 years ago

    love it!~

  • NicheWomensClothing

    NicheWomensClothing said 10 years ago

    Objecked, this is a very cool article! Even tho your work is very hot! ha. This article and video is hearttouching and exciting, because it makes me want to jump for joy that such a project exists, and it blows my mind as well. Glass blowing is such a beautiful art!

  • funkomavintage

    funkomavintage said 10 years ago

    one of the nicest parts of living in Tacoma is our beautiful art glass community....the Glass Museum, its Hot Shop....and all the glass artists around my town ...and I love to say with complete sincerity...Art Saves Lives... Art is for everyone...the well-behaved and the rowdies!

  • CharliesApt

    CharliesApt said 10 years ago

    What a brilliant program! Such a great idea.

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 10 years ago

    Wow, what an art! Beautiful!

  • nomadcraftsetc

    nomadcraftsetc said 10 years ago

    This is awesome for kids to learn-and they can do it! Our 9 year old has been lampworking with us for a little over 1 year-she loves it and gets in torch time at least once a day. It gives her a sense of accomplishment everytime she learns a new technique or a new design. Great article!

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 10 years ago

    This is one of the greatest stories I've heard about so far this year! THANK YOU Hiltop Artists and keep up the fantastic outreach... It makes me proud to be an artisan giving back to the community!

  • norakaren

    norakaren said 10 years ago

    great project,amazing idea!

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions said 10 years ago

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing - I love glass work. I've been making glass beads for about 5 or 6 years, but I've not yet ventured into glass blowing. It's amazing!

  • cooljewelrydesign

    cooljewelrydesign said 10 years ago

    LOVE LOVE the article...wish those classes were available when I was growing up. I have a very dear glass blown lamp by Michael Allison (who now resides in LA, I believe) is a one of a kind water stream flowing from an antique city water faucet (found somewhere in downtown Atlanta). To all the creative genius related to working with glass, i applaud everyone. I am an addict.

  • florabond

    florabond said 10 years ago

    HEY!! I went to Jason Lee Middle School! That was more than 12 years ago.... not telling how long ago, but I would have been first in line for this program.

  • glasfaden

    glasfaden said 10 years ago

    Inspiring project - well done!

  • singlestonestudios

    singlestonestudios said 10 years ago

    One of the most inspiring things I've ever seen! SPeaks to me in ways I can't adequately express.

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 10 years ago

    I have always said that children need to express themselves creating...what a reminder that our education system needs to adapt to suit our children.. Bravo and may we see more of this ......what a better world we could have...

  • Iovelycrochet

    Iovelycrochet said 10 years ago

    Amazing story..thank you for sharing..!

  • Ebrown2503

    Ebrown2503 said 10 years ago

    Wouldn't it be the most wonderful world if we could ALL be this effective in a child's life? I loved this piece on glass making.

  • MaryLikes

    MaryLikes said 10 years ago

    Enjoyed the video immensely. It's very impressive to see what young adults can do, and more important what they are learning about themselves through a program that works.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 10 years ago

    Love it!

  • beaujangles

    beaujangles said 10 years ago

    amazing work, it was my dream to do this and I paid to have a session in Bristol (UK) and made a hand blown bristol blue vase, ...still has pride of place in my house !

  • Firelily

    Firelily said 10 years ago

    Fabulous! I find glass art to be very therapeutic. I am quite captivated by glass blowing and hope to be able to venture in that direction soon. This is so great for the youngsters.

  • bedbuggs

    bedbuggs said 10 years ago

    Great story, how neat!

  • IrinaArtSmi

    IrinaArtSmi said 10 years ago

    Wow very nice work !!! i love it

  • seacucumbermama

    seacucumbermama said 10 years ago

    Wonderful! Thank-you, Eric.

  • ForestWalkArt

    ForestWalkArt said 10 years ago

    great article!! great program!! thanks! glass blowing has been on my 'list' of things to of these days...when i can squeeze the time in between all my other projects...AAaaargh!!

Sign in to add your own