Call them masters of the elements. Students who take classes in UTA’s Glass Program eventually become just that, melding sand, fire, and water to create everything from basic glass shapes to more elaborate works of art.
“Glass is something we use every single day, but we don’t consider the process behind how it’s made,” says Justin Ginsberg, assistant professor and program coordinator. “Glasswork is an elemental, very visceral activity.”
The program includes a 4,800-square-foot hot shop, a 3,000-square-foot cold shop, a kiln room, and more. Students explore the sculptural, conceptual, and functional aesthetics of glass using a variety of glassworking techniques.
As a discipline, glassworking tends to foster a strong sense of community. That connection among glass students starts early, as everyone essentially begins at the same skill level.
“Overall, it’s an equalized playing field,” Ginsberg says. “Everybody pretty much starts at the same place and grows together as a collective. You get a strong sense of community in that way, and that’s certainly true at UTA.”
This year, UTA added glass as a minor in addition to the established bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Ginsberg notes that this will give students from other disciplines the opportunity to learn glasswork.
“There’s something magical about our program,” he says. “I have witnessed several people realize they’ve found the thing they want to do with their lives. It’s a privilege to provide access to something that will become someone’s passion.”
The annual glass sale offers student and faculty work for purchase, raising funds for the program.
Faculty and students pour molten glass into a mold to help realize a student project. Almost all glass processes require a team working together.
Derived from the French word “puntil,” which means “point,” a punty is a long iron rod that glassmakers use to gather molten glass.
A torch—known to glassblowers as a fluffy torch—sits idle, ready for specific and directive heating on the molten glass.
A student heats glass, balancing on a rolling yoke to assist with getting the glass in and out of the reheating furnace.
To make glass malleable and soft, it must be reheated to above 1600 degrees Fahrenheit.