Arguably the hottest show on Netflix, the glassblowing competition series Blown Away–once again featuring expert glassmakers from The Corning Museum of Glass–returns for a second season tomorrow, January 22, 2021.
The Museum will also host Blown Away Season 2, an exhibit of work made during Season 2, featuring one object from each of the 10 contestants. You can view the exhibit on the Museum’s West Bridge starting tomorrow.
When the first season of Blown Away launched in the summer of 2019, CMoG was invited into the spotlight, bringing to the program its expertise in an artform that much of the world was discovering for the first time through the show.
Season 2 introduces a new group of 10 talented glassmakers from around the world as they compete for the title of “Best in Glass.” In the season finale, the Museum also provides both Blown Away finalists with the expert assistance of its Hot Glass Demo Team—Eric Meek, Jeff Mack, Helen Tegeler, Catherine Ayers, George Kennard, and Chris Rochelle.
And, in what has been a blockbuster ending to a 20-year career at CMoG, one of the Museum’s senior directors, Rob Cassetti, served as the final guest evaluator, helping to select the winner of the competition, shortly before his retirement.
We caught up with Rob and the Blown Away judges ahead of the show’s launch to get the inside scoop.
Who they are:
Rob Cassetti, Former Sr. Director at CMoG, and Guest Judge for the Final Episode: Rob retired from the Museum in October 2020, leaving behind a lasting legacy that—much like Blown Away itself—is a “love letter to glass.” His ambitious projects literally transformed the Museum, as he was heavily involved with the last two expansion projects to add the Innovation Center (2001) and the Contemporary Art + Design Wing (2015). In addition to launching the hot glass demonstrations 20 years ago, Rob also developed all associated hot glass outreach from the Hot Glass Roadshow to GlassLab and GlassBarge.
Nick Uhas, Host of Blown Away: Nick Uhas launched his media career at age 17. A science influencer and producer, he is best known for his popular YouTube science show, Nickipedia. Nick is a top influencer on TikTok and can be found @nickuhas.
Katherine Gray, Resident Evaluator on Blown Away: A renowned glass artist, Katherine’s work in glass has been featured across the U.S. and Canada. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles where she is a professor of art at California State University, San Bernardino.
How was your experience on the show during Season 2?
Rob: “It feels like I’ve come full circle,” said Rob, who developed the Museum’s hot glass programming. “When we first launched our demo at the Museum, we called it the ‘Hot Glass Show,’ and put our makers on a stage. We knew glass was inherently exciting and we wanted to bring that to our visitors. So now, for the Blown Away series to capture that magic, to bottle that energy, and to share it with the world through Netflix—it’s really unbelievable, and it was a joyful honor for me to be part of it.”
Nick: “As someone who knew nothing about glass before Blown Away, glass is so much more versatile than I originally expected. I thought it was all about bowls and glasses, but now I’ve seen people work with it and I understand the intricacies of glass art. I understand why the artists can go so in-depth with this material—there are so many possibilities. [Filming Season 2 with more knowledge] made it more enjoyable. I got to pay more attention to the glass and less to the production aspect of it.”
Kathy: “This role is a familiar one for me as an art professor, but I definitely felt like I understood the rhythm of filming better. Obviously, there were different personalities and different creative challenges, but it seemed like the stakes were higher. The new contestants saw what the impact was on the careers of Season 1 contestants (as did I!) and knew that this would be a game-changer. In some ways, I think the contestants were hyper-aware of their predecessors and maybe wanted to outdo or outshine them while also competing with each other.”
What has Blown Away done for the art of glassmaking?
Kathy: “Season 1 completely expanded glassmaking’s profile in the public consciousness. I’ve been amazed by how many people now know what reticello is, for instance. That might not be knowledge that they need every day, but it’s so encouraging that people from beyond the field are as captivated by the process as those of us in the thick of it. I think we all knew that that interest was out there, but the reach of a show like this is so much broader. Season 2 will only help to build more awareness. Anything that shows us doing what we do best (and what we love!) is a welcome and overdue respite, and hopefully, also a harbinger of something approaching normalcy returning again soon.”
Rob: “Glass is really finding its moment right now. We’ve arrived at a moment—and Blown Away has done such a great service—where glass has entered our popular consciousness. It’s like the X Games. It has always been this extreme sport, but only a few people knew about it. Now it’s on prime time!”
Nick: “Blown Away has made glass accessible to people outside the glass world. There are so many people who didn’t know you could take a lesson at a hot shop, or that you could access a hot shop—or even what a hot shop was! Now glass is a medium that’s probably akin to clay, not in terms of the difficulty of working with it, but in people’s understanding of it.”
What are your thoughts about the Museum’s participation in Blown Away?
Nick: “It’s the most natural fit possible. It’s like Apple being involved in a technology show. It needed to happen because it’s a pillar of the space. That’s my take on it—it was almost necessary for the show to be successful because CMoG is ground zero for glass, glassblowing, glass history, glass technology. It was such a natural pairing that it made sense—not even made sense, it made the show!”
Kathy: “[About the Hot Glass Demo Team helping the finalists] Seeing how the ideas and possibilities change with the very skilled extra help, that is really an eye-opener. I would suspect for many of the contestants, that would be the first time that they have something like that at their disposal.
“[About the Blown Away Residency, offered by CMoG in the prize package] The Blown Away Residency enjoyed by the winner is a HUGE perk. Even some glassblowers that may have ready access to a hot shop, all of the other resources, exposure, and PR that comes along with that residency can be a gigantic boost to a career. It’s a chance for them to capitalize on the success, exposure, and momentum of winning the series. I know so many people who traveled to Corning to be there when Deborah Czeresko was in residency, for instance. I don’t think any of us starting out as glassblowers ever thought we would have that kind of ‘real world’ celebrity! That brings all kinds of opportunities beyond just making more artwork or selling more artwork (although those are great perks, too!).”
We’re sure you’ll enjoy Blown Away Season 2 just as much as we have, so, leave us a comment and tell us what you think.
Watch the official Blown Away Season 2 trailer below: