Blown Away Contestants Talk About Their Time on the Hot New Netflix Show

We’ve been binge watching Blown Away on Netflix, and we hope you have, too. Has the fiery cast of amazing glassblowers inspired you to see glass in a new light?

We recently asked the contestants what being involved with Blown Away has meant to them. They also weighed in on the potential impact of broader global awareness of this material they all love, and what it means for artists who make a living working in glass.

Photo Credit: David Leyes, courtesy of marblemedia

What has being involved with Blown Away meant to you?

“I was ready for an adventure related to my work because I have been shifting away from design-oriented projects toward art endeavors. I knew that working on Blown Away would be demanding in unpredictable ways and was curious where that would take me creatively. I wanted to innovate new ideas through the challenges.” Deborah Czeresko – New York City, New York

“Being involved with Blown Away has been a great opportunity to work in the same studio as some really talented and well-known glass artists.”  Kevin Kiff – Santa Cruz, California

“Being involved with Blown Away is an amazing opportunity to promote the possibilities and challenges working with this material provides.” Benjamin Kikkert – Vancouver, Canada

Blown Away has given me the opportunity to share my passion for glassblowing with the world.” Leah Kudel – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

“Being involved in Blown Away was an opportunity to get my work seen by a much bigger audience and it challenged me in ways and directions I would not otherwise have gone in.” Janusz Poźniak – Seattle, Washington

“Being involved in Blown Away meant going out of my studio and comfort zone. It has been an incredible challenge and an opportunity for my abilities to gain visibility. It represented a chance to promote my work to a wider, less niched, public.” Patrick Primeau – Montreal, Quebec, Canada

“My decision to compete on Blown Away was driven by desperation but resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Surprisingly, it ended up on a short list of professional endeavors I have participated in that I feel exceptionally well qualified for and I think that feeling comes through on screen. I’m pleased that my approach to glass as an artistic medium was represented on the series.” Alexander Rosenberg – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“I was scouted by the casting director, and I carefully weighed the possible pros and cons of a never-before-seen reality show. Seeing its affiliation with the Corning Museum of Glass helped me realize that this is an incredibly unique opportunity to become a face of the glass community, to the general public, and on an international scale.” Momoko Schafer (aka Momo) – Boston, Massachusetts

“It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to reconnect with the amazingly creative and supportive glass community while being given the platform to espouse the importance and complexity of a normally overlooked material.” Annette Sheppard ­ San Francisco, CA

“Being involved with Blown Away has connected me with a number of outstanding artists, presenting even more opportunities for my future.” Edgar Valentine – Tacoma, Washington

  • Deborah Czeresko
  • Kevin Kiff
  • Benjamin Kikkert
  • Leah Kudel
  • Janusz Poźniak
  • Patrick Primeau
  • Alexander Rosenberg
  • Momo Schafer
  • Annette Sheppard
  • Edgar Valentine

What do you hope Blown Away does for artists working in glass?

“Watching an amorphous molten blob of glass turn into a myriad of exquisite forms instigated through the various challenges is an excellent introduction to glass as an artistic medium. Glass is a material that most people have very little contact with it in its molten form. I hope that Blown Away will illuminate the realities and complexities of glassmaking and show its unlimited potential for creative expression to a mass audience.” Deborah Czeresko

Blown Away can serve as a way to educate more people about the process of glass art on a larger scale. I hope it helps perpetuate that knowledge to the next generations and get everyone stoked on glass. For artists working with glass, this has the potential to increase the importance of the art we are creating.” Kevin Kiff 

“I hope Blown Away introduces the audience to the passion and intensity of a career with hot glass.” Benjamin Kikkert

“I hope Blown Away will bring awareness to the wonderful craft of glass blowing.” Leah Kudel

“I hope the show will open the eyes of people that had no idea, that glass was such a versatile and challenging material to work with. I hope it will show that it is being used as an art form and encourage new collectors to buy work and support the makers.” Janusz Poźniak    

“My hope for artists working with glass is to show to the public how glass is an incredible sculptural material. Glass is versatile and dynamic and artists working with it are also intense and devoted to the material. Blown Away could be a way to demystify glass processes to a larger public.” Patrick Primeau

“It is my sincere hope that Blown Away helps to expand the public’s understanding of glass as a sculptural medium, and inspires future collectors, patrons, and institutions to support the medium.” Alexander Rosenberg

“I believe that this show will not only bring light to the craft but foster a greater understanding and appreciation for those who work with this material.” Momo Schafer

“I hope that Blown Away inspires more artists and people to explore the medium of glass while shedding light on the complexity of the process and the passion and skill required of the artists.” Annette Sheppard 

“I hope Blown Away can open doors for young, underground glass artists and give them the exposure they deserve.” Edgar Valentine

Watch Blown Away now on Netflix!

And make sure to stop by the Museum this summer to see our display Blown Away: Glassblowing Comes to Netflix, which tells the story of how the Museum found its way into the global spotlight. Visitors can see work created on the show by each competitor and watch a behind-the-scenes documentary with interviews conducted on the set and footage captured of the Museum’s Hot Glass Demo Team taking part in the finale.

Blown Away display at The Museum
Blown Away display at The Museum

*Artist photos by David Leyes, courtesy of marblemedia

42 comments » Write a comment

  1. Deborah Czeresko shouldn’t have won that at all! I was amazed when hanging meat, something she has done before in a chandelier, gave her the win when I KNEW from the beginning that the winner was going to be Janusz Poźniak! When Deborah won with little more than hanging meat and a tube of toothpaste as her claim to fame on the show, I thought something must be going on behind the scenes. There has to be! Anyone with an IQ high enough to count to 10 would tell you that Janusz won that competition hands down! 2nd place was Alexander Rosenberg! AT BEST Deborah came in 3rd! I don’t know any of them but from what I saw, Janusz doesn’t need to be “studying” at The Corning Museum! HE NEEDS TO BE TEACHING PEOPLE THERE! You can tell from the 1st episode that Janusz was going to go all the way. I think it was nothing more than the whining about “Women this and Women that” from Deborah that made the Executives at the show give it to her. I actually binge watched the entire season only to be massively let down at the end. That’s 3+ hours of my life I will never get back but after that, I am definitely not going to watch any more seasons (if there are any more coming) in the future!

    • You are 100% correct!! Janusz was clearly the most talented glassblower on the show. I will not be watching any more seasons either.

    • Wow, we couldn’t DISAGREE more! Were a “regular” family, not an artistic one in the bunch. We happened to fall upon the show looking for something new to see on Netflix. Upon the very first episode, we all huddled around the TV and marathon-ed through the entire series. It brought emotion and fun banter back and forth, (3 kids, 2 birds, fish, and a female tortoise names Steve, don’t ask) which I think is what arts all about, touching people in different ways. What we saw was people with tons of talent, some greater than others, but it was Deborah and her unique thinking that made us learn to think. Like that potato flower piece, that was deep, and we all knew at that very moment she was something very special. She walks her own path, not just pumping out glass.

      Art is in the eye of the beholder I suppose, but if you take the story in, why they made what the made, it’s really hard for anyone to say she wasn’t the deepest and most profound. We connected to what she was trying to do more than any other artist, by far. Now, were there artists that had more sophisticated stuff, maybe, but art is to connect you to something and there’s NO WAY you can argue that she wasn’t the best at connecting you to her work!

      She deserved to win and for people to try and take it away is mean.

  2. I believe that the way the series ended with Blown Away was terrible. I was such a fan of the show for the technical application and creative pieces. I believe the winner of the first season had no right to make it to the finals. Her technical skills were less than par. Totally a bummer and probably won’t watch the show again. Judges blew this one.

  3. I really loved the whole concept of the show (especially since I went to school near Corning, NY and have many beloved glass art pieces). But I was extremely disappointed in the judging. Deborah is a wonderful artist, but it was clear to me that the “feminist card” was played throughout much of the judging. Honestly, it became quite tedious after a while… While art is subjective, merit is still important and I really believe that some of the other male contestants got cheated. I also work in a ‘male-heavy’ profession, but never felt like I had to get aggressively on a high horse about it. My profession just seems less appealing to most women and I accept that without holding it against men. The show was compromised by so much “men bad”/ “women good” cliches. Really a turnoff- even to other women.
    Hope next season is more glass and less grievance politics. Just saying…

  4. I just finished the first season, I loved it. Very happy for the winner! (I was about to write the name but didn’t want to spoil the ending.)

  5. Do not think this person “Deborah “ should have won. She always had some little remark to put the others down . Thinking she was better. Clearly Janusz was way better than her. Some of the others were better than she was. Maybe next time we should vote. Disliked her whole last piece. We loved the show til she won.

  6. Being female IS NOT a disability. We all have struggles in life. Individuals not taking personal responsibility is what adds fuel to continued discrimination. Just continue to be the version of you.

  7. Very disappointed in their choice of a winner. It felt so Hollywood, going for the feel good, social conscience thing. The other artist was leaps and bounds better than the winner. Unfortunately when shows like this want to make some kind of statement, it doesn’t matter how good you are.

  8. Any chance that this could be a traveling show? This was a fantastic series and I’d love to see some of them in person.

  9. A lot of the feedback in these comments center’s around the “unfairness” of Deborah winning. While she wasn’t the best… she played it right and she is certainly qualified.

    I think people often confuse realty shows like this with an actual technical competition. At the end of the day the producers are creating a story as much as a contest, and that shapes the narrative. Sure Januzs was very talented, but when he faltered, Deborah was there and was shining. So sure, he is the best glassblower in a technical sense. But it isn’t just about technique it is about how you play the game, competition, the audience, and when your opponent falters.

    His last work was honestly, really derivative and lacked so much creative cohesion, so there is also that. I am by no means saying I loved Deborah’s work. But the reality is, he didn’t deliver when he needed to, which was the last episode of the show.

    • I binged watched the entire season, and while Januzs was obviously the better craftsman and technically superior, he dropped the ball in the finale. I figured him for the easy win vs Deborah, but he let his political statement dive his artwork instead of the other way around.

      His display highlighted environmental issues, but lacked any inward reflection on what the carbon footprint and environmental impact was in creating these glass baubles. His smoke stacks billowing smoke could have easily represented the very hot shop where he was competing.

      To be fair, other contestants tried the same thing in earlier episodes, pushing the environmental hot button to gain green points, while being completely oblivious to the fact that glass blowing creates toxic fumes and is very energy intensive for an artistic medium.

      Talk about greenhouse gasses, I count 10 glory holes running at 2000F, and multiple electric annealing ovens running at nearly 500F for hours and hours along with torches, etc in each episode. The amount of fossil fuels and energy needed to keep the heat at those levels could probably heat multiple homes for a year or more.

      Maybe those who live for glass blowing shouldn’t throw stones.

  10. Very disappointed in the ending. Predictable, but still disappointing – had hoped for something better considering the caliber of the show. For the record, the winner is hardly a champion for all women – the work should have to stand on its own without all the babble. Liked this show! Great-looking work! Truly misguided ending.

  11. I guessed after about the third episode that Deborah would be the winner. Her unique ideas and creativity and risk-taking, along with some added humor make her a true artist – so much more inspiring than just technical expertise. Congratulations Deborah! I look forward to seeing more of her glass work.

  12. Being a woman, I was really rooting for all the girls. I was a huge fan of Leah. But when the final episode announced the winner I was incredibly surprised that Deborah won. While she is a very talented artist, I believe that one of the others deserved to win the show. I hope that if there is another season of the show that they pick some one who truly deserved to receive the prize.

    • “Being a woman, I was really rooting for all the girls.”

      What a strange way to behave. Why not judge people on the content of their character? Why not judge a glass blower on their work?

    • I certainly hope there will be another season of this show. I have been fascinated with glass since I was a child and have been to CMOG several times. I’ve done the make-and-take workshops, and started lampworking on a hothead myself. (I’ve also visited Murano and will be going again next year.) This series is a great way to share the world of glassmaking and glass art with the public and develop a larger audience for the museum as well. The challenges were an interesting way to show how different one artist’s interpretation is from the next. However next season I would like to see technique-based challenges, such as use of cane and murrini, solid sculpting, blowing, use of molds, color, texture, etc. rather than focusing on vague conceptual challenges. It would also be nice to incorporate viewer voting, make it interactive for the viewers. Maybe even hold a drawing for a viewer to win a weekend class?

      And from a logistics standpoint. Next time provide them with more annealers – no one’s work should be jeopardised by someone else struggling to get their piece into an annealer with another artist’s work already in it!!!!

  13. Thanks for this wonderful show. I’m so happy to be able to see glass blowing… but why so short ? They work four, five hours and we have hardly 20mn show… had to pause to be able to look properly what they did at the end…. The less the oponents, the better …as you give more space and visibility to the glass but I’m still disapointed : the glass, the blowing, the technic… should be given more time. I’m sure nobody would have been bored seeing more glass moves and life. I hope there will be another season. Thanks

  14. I enjoyed this show and watching these artists, though I’ve been curious about how they are chosen. There were a few beginning artists that surely would have difficulty competing with glassblowers who teach or have decades of experience. Choices were getting tough by the end and I too thought Janusz was going to win as he seemed the technical star of the show. I was surprised by Deborah’s win, but felt she captured the essence of the challenge. Janusz seemed to embrace the more is better approach, but I don’t think that worked for him. Lots of folks voicing who they thought should win. Get over it. The judges made their decision. We all not gonna watch because of who didn’t win? Come on, it’s a show. It’s not life and death. Just enjoy the ride, folks.

  15. I’m very happy with the winner this show chose. It’s very easy to find people with technical ability. It is another thing to find someone with artistic vision. I felt that Alex had pieces that were very technical in design, but he lost sure to the fact he didn’t meet the brief.
    At it’s core we hope that art will evoke emotion, leave a lasting impression and convey the message the artist was attempting tell us. Deborah did that in the end better.

  16. I have been fascinated by glass blowing since I saw my first Chihully exhibit and have doing lampworking for about 2 years and taking glass blowing classes for about the same length. I was absolutely thrilled to see this show. My personal favorite artist was Janusz and do feel he should have won. However! Technically he should have been sent home on the Duality challenge because he was on the losing team and his work was simple, something that did not take a lot of expertise. It was either luck that they chose not to send anyone home or that they decided he was too good to send off.

    I think his piece was much more conceptually cohesive than Deborah’s and you didn’t need as much explanation to understand what he was trying to get across. Hers definitely required a more in depth look and explanation. As a woman I think Yay for us, but as a glass art lover, I preferred his piece.

    I will definitely continue to watch. Great job to all the artists!

    • The judges were more impressed with Janusz’ and Alex’ display but again the political correctness was the motive! Frankly, I couldn’t figure out what Deborah and Patrick’s piece represented. It needed so much explanation and back story to justify it! I believe the judges decided to let them both pass because of the storm that would have broken would have tanked the show. I loved the show watching these talented artists work. I didn’t agree with the judges. I felt that Catherine had an agenda and a narrowness of judgment. To criticize Momo for a purple colour choice just because she wanted it to be black! What was that? She insulted the artist and the artist’s culture. Deborah’s constant kwetching about not having tools and the heat and the people was disappointing! But I suppose it makes a story… like Marcel Vigneron on Top Chef, only he didn’t win.

  17. Loving this unique show! Just watched Season 1, Episode 8 and feel surprisingly compelled to say that PATRICK SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SENT HOME THIS ROUND! His was a distinctly creative idea that became a beautiful work of art!

  18. Wow, gees after reading all these comments it made me want to put my two cents in, that’s all it’s worth, two cents. On attitude, neither should have won, they were both equally arrogant and very full of themselves On skill, the dude won, on creativity, the chick won, I think it ultimately went to the Corning guy to make the final decision and it is him that has to work with this person, so he went with creative, not really one better than the other thing, just a decision based on “Artist in Residence” criteria. I do agree the dude should be teaching at that school!!! His technical knowledge is incredible, but you need both Technical and Creative, so they weighed the levels and she came out on top. Congrats to both, but also, work on your people skills, both of you!! Hey, I am just calling it as the Editor’s of the show made me see it. They could both be very nice people, who knows.

  19. Would recommend a judging team that truly understands glass blowing, technique and the creative process. I felt the judges and the somewhat generalized and anodyne commentary detracted from what could be a very powerful and enjoyable reality show. Think Project Runway when it comes to qualified, informed judging. I would also suggest that the show take the time in each episode to educate the public about various facets and aspects of the glass making process. With this reinforcement, I think it was a wonderful and enjoyable exposure to this medium.

  20. While Deborah created some wonderful pieces not all were in the same caliber as Janusz’s, especially the gallery that won her the show. Creativity comes from the soul and is very personal to each artist; the mere act of displaying for the world is an acccomplishment in itself. I agree with so many others that Janusz should have won so am hopy and praying he gains the recognition he deserves!

  21. Deborah was by far more creative than Janusz, who is a superb technician but seems to lack the abundant imagination and creativity that Deborah has. The judges made the right choice.

  22. Janusz, with his thoughtful and interior artistry, was the clear winner. Deborah certainly has talent, but her hyper-feminism interfered with her art. Angry is not a good starting point for anything.

  23. This is a wonderful art focused reality show! Thank you Corning for your part! So enjoyed it! A pleasure to see ALL of the artists in their element. Pretty disappointing to see petty comments here by viewers with a clear cultural agenda regarding the well deserving winner (not to mention spoilers for those who haven’t watched). Here’s a thought – enjoy ALL the artists for their talents, support this art form, and enjoy your favorites by all means, but please don’t bash talented contestants and artists based on your own personal beliefs and proclivities. It’s unnecessary and unkind.

  24. Just finished watching the series and reading comments, as an artist that has always worked in a “man’s” environment for years I have something to say and it is not about feminism but reality. There were aspects that if you listen closely to the last show were pointed out. Janusz is technically superior to Debra BUT they were looking for someone who was inspiring, had feeling in their work also who evoked feeling and controversy. Technique only gets you so far passion takes you the rest of the way, examples Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Itzhak Perlman, until Janusz finds his passion he will only be technically superior. Debra has passion and hopefully she will dig deep to become technically superior.

  25. Really felt the winner of the show only won because she was a women. That all she ever talked about was how she needed to win. Second place should have won!

  26. Wow, I just watched the show on Netflix, I have always loved glass work but this competition really amazed me with its bringing the audience into the “hot shop” . All the terms and explanations of the different, tools and process was just fascinating and helped bring the audience into a better understanding and appreciation of the craftsmanship it takes to render such art work out of molten blobs!

  27. Janusz was the clear winner of the competition, IMO. Personally, I think people were led by the judge commentaries into the idea that she is the better ‘creative artist’ when compared to Janusz’s technical proficiency. I completely disagree. Deborah’s creativity is one note – everything is about victimhood, resenting men or attempting to emasculate them. Curiously it was the men in the show that seemed the most humble and supportive of their competitors.

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