Meet a Museum Glassmaker: Kurt Carlson

Kurt Carlson has been working with glass for 30 years, since the early 70s. He received a degree in glassblowing from RIT and then held his own studio for a number of years with his wife, Lynda Pownell-Carlson. Kurt started working at the Museum six years ago, part-time and on Celebrity Cruise Ships with the Hot Glass Show Team. Now, Kurt is ashore as a Make Your Own Glass Team Leader.

Kurt Carlson assisting glassblowing at a special program at Make Your Own Glass.

Kurt Carlson assisting glassblowing at a special Make Your Own Glass program.

What do you do here at the Museum?

I am called the “team leader.” I run around and make sure things run smoothly and that customers and workers are all happy.

What made you interested in this kind of position?

This is the glass capital of the world, it’s an amazing place. We were doing well with business but I got cancer a number of years ago. I had to do chemo which put me out of the game for six months. After that, I needed a job so this is the place that I came to.

Decanter Set by Carlson Glassworks

Decanter Set by Carlson Glassworks

Are you currently working on any of your own projects?

Yeah, I work with my wife and make large sculptural heads. Then she paints them with enamel. We sell to galleries across the country and she still does some art shows.

What is your favorite food?

Raw yellow-tail tuna.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I guess world peace. I don’t know how to make that a superpower, but yeah. World peace.

Do you ever get a common question from visitors?

Common questions are: How do you make the colors in glass? Why does it have to cool down slowly? Why can’t I take it home now? What happens if I suck on the blow pipe, will I die? Things like that. (Find the answers to these questions here!)

What is your favorite part of the Museum?

I like the historical glass. I’m amazed at what they could do a thousand years ago. I’m amazed that they figured out glass formulas for colors and they figured out how to make the glass softer and work longer before they could chemically analyze it. It was just kind of an intuitive process and that fascinates me.

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