Were it possible during the 1970s to have Googled a heat-sensitive map of the United States, it would no doubt have picked up the flickering glow of hot furnaces and molten glass from Maine to Oregon, Wisconsin to North Carolina, California to Washington State. It was a decade when experimentation and the discoveries of the ‘60s coalesced into a discernible movement that would forever transform the fields of craft and art.
A number of forces came together to make this happen, not least of which was that many of the original studio glass pioneers scattered to teaching posts across the country. While Harvey Littleton continued to turn students on to glass at the University of Wisconsin, Kent State University hired his assistant, Henry Halem, to set up a glass program in Ohio. Meanwhile, Norm Schulman set up a furnace at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Marvin Lipofsky introduced glass at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Joel Philip Myers taught at Illinois State University, Robert Fritz started the glass studies program at San Jose State University … and the list goes on.
By the early ‘70s, a second generation of artists found themselves twirling blowpipes and forging a complex web of relationships. A case in point: In 1965, Harvey Littleton’s student Bill Boysen set up a furnace at the Penland School of Crafts, where, in the summer of 1967, Mark Peiser showed up to try his hand at blowing glass. In 1971, Peiser, who’d stayed on as Penland’s first resident glass artist, taught Richard Ritter, who in turn would instruct Richard Jolley in a summer workshop Jolley took after completing his BFA under Michael Taylor, who had studied with Littleton.
Meanwhile, Lipofsky’s student Richard Marquis fired up a hot shop in 1970 in Seattle, where one of his students, Steve Beasley, would go on to co-found an arts cooperative that brought the furnace and glory hole within reach of the public at large.
To read the rest of the story, pick up your Spring 2012 issue of AmericanStyle magazine.
Follow this link to see a selective list of glass galleries around the country.
Enjoy a Web-exclusive scrapbook of photos from this golden age of glass.