Blown Away Season 2 Contestants Reflect on their Netflix Experience

Blown Away Season 2 has been lighting up TV screens for more than two months now and the buzz shows no sign of slowing down. We checked in with many of the contestants to find out how the show has changed their lives.

Blown Away Season 2 contestants line for for episode 1 (photo courtesy of David Leyes for marblemedia).

How have things been going for you since Blown Away launched?

“Things have been going well! I just moved into a new studio space in Melbourne and have been developing some new designs. I’m working towards some exhibition proposals and am doing a live demo at the Virtual Glass Art Society Conference in May this year.” Tegan Hamilton – Melbourne, Australia (Instagram: tegan.hamilton)

Jason McDonald.

“Life has been busy! I’m wrapping up my final semester of undergrad at California College of the Arts. Between classes and being in the studio, the days are flying by. Looking to the future, I put out applications for graduate school for next year and am excited to announce that I will be attending Tyler School of Art in the fall to get my MFA!” Jason McDonald – Oakland, California (IG: jasonmcdonald42)

“Everything has been really great and as a result of the show, I have had a life-changing experience. A doctor saw the show on Netflix and reached out to me on Instagram about my lipoma, which I had discussed on the show. Now, just several weeks out from the procedure, I am back to blowing glass and feeling like a new man! I might even be planning some rendezvous with friends from Blown Away in the near future.” Mike Shelbo – Vista, California (IG: mikeshelbo)


“My Instagram is getting more attention and I’m enjoying getting warm messages. But I’m still the same person and making what I want whenever I want! I relocated to Southern California to challenge myself to get into contemporary art practice, not just the glass art scene. I also have a show coming up this September at Bellevue Art Museum.” Nao Yamamoto – Toyko, Japan – now California (IG: naoymmt)

“There has been a whirlwind of emotions for me since filming the show. I gained so much from the experience, but not in the way I ever expected. Which, I guess, is how life really teaches us. Being eliminated on the second episode was pretty devastating to me. I felt like I let myself down. But I used this pain to fuel my fire even bigger than before.” Ben Silver – Eugene, Oregon (IG: bendiniglass)

New work by Ben Silver.

“Things have been going crazy! I have been completely overwhelmed by the positive responses to me and my work since the show launched, and Bethany, my partner, and I have had some great interactions with new clients and well-wishers. There are a number of new developments in the pipeline that I am very much looking forward to sharing with an ever-growing audience of glass and art lovers!” Elliot Walker – St. Albans, England (IG: ewalkerglassart)

“The launch has been so exciting, with amazing feedback, opportunities, as well as new fans. My work on the show has really resonated with my core audience, and my vision and intention applauded by the design community. I’m currently working on a new product line for my brand, Esque Studio, along with my partner Justin. Expect to see new lighting, sculpture, and accessories unbound by preconceived notions of form and technique.” Andi Kovel – Portland, Oregon (IG: andikovel)

Brad Turner (photo courtesy of David Leyes for marblemedia).

“When the show launched there was a fun few weeks with lots of activity on social media. I’ve received a lot of positive support. The exposure’s been good, and I’ve had some renewed interest in my larger sculptural work, which is great. That being said, there’s also been a lot of frustration since it launched. The pandemic and all the shutdowns in Toronto have really limited my studio access. Being a part of the show is a huge opportunity, and it’s been tough not being able to take advantage of it to any significant degree. To be honest, sometimes it feels like I’m watching my dreams pass me by. But I’ll keep going. Slowly but surely, I’ll just keep making new work when I can. You’ll have to be patient with me though.” Brad Turner – Toronto, Canada (IG: glassturner)


Reflecting on your experience, what’s your biggest takeaway from your time on Blown Away?

“I think my biggest takeaway would be that I need to not be so hard on myself. I was expecting that people were going to react poorly to my performance on the show. It was quite the opposite! People have shown so much warmth and kindness towards me. A lot of people who checked out my work reached out to tell me that they wished that I was on a little longer to see what else I could have done on the show.” Tegan Hamilton

“I learned several things from my experience on Blown Away. How to master my anxiety was the big takeaway, though. It’s intimidating knowing that every word will be viewed by your entire community. Oh, I also learned that I need to spend more time practicing sculpting.” Jason McDonald

Mike Shelbo (photo courtesy of David Leyes for marblemedia).

“I wish that prior to going I spent more time practicing at the furnace as it had been years since I was actively pursuing soft glass, and then suddenly I was about to go film the show! I feel like had my skills been sharpened a bit more I could have gotten further in the competition and had a better shot at getting into the final round. I had a blast going for it and I am really excited about some of the original work I created for the show.” Mike Shelbo

Nao Yamamoto.

“Going through that pressure and stress made me mentally stronger. Facing the unknown is always scary, but I’ve grown more trust and love for myself for handling this experience well. Also, meeting other artists and our new connections.” Nao Yamamoto

“I wanted to create more than ever to prove myself to myself, so that’s what I did. My ‘failure’ on the show was actually a great reward. I used it as fuel to keep going and to do better, to think more intently about my work and what I’m trying to do with it. I created many new products and ideas out of my shortcomings…many of which have become great products.” Ben Silver

“I think having the opportunity to appreciate and learn about the other contestants’ journeys to this point [was a highlight]. This sort of global exposure is such a pivotal moment in an artist’s career that people often overlook the journey and struggle all artists have to advance their careers in the first place. Everyone picked for the show deserved to be there without a doubt and it was great to meet them all and learn from their varied experiences. Also, having the opportunity to represent the very small but fantastic community of glass makers and material-specific artists in the UK was a huge honor.” Elliot Walker

Elliot Walker at home in his studio.

“Staying true to myself and representing my voice as a designer was my number one goal during filming. I believe my work on Blown Away was memorable for having a distinct point of view. My focus has always been on advancing how contemporary glass is represented through unique aesthetics, form, function, and color.” Andi Kovel

“For me, I think it reiterated the importance of just being oneself. I think back on the filming of the show fondly, but I know the actual experience of participating was quite stressful at the time. I think I put pressure on myself to be something I’m not, and that ended up distracting me from enjoying some of the moments.” Brad Turner

If you could have planned a challenge for Blown Away, what would it have been?

Tegan Hamilton.

“I would have loved a figurative challenge. To see how different people approached the human body, similar to the dancer challenge on season one.” Tegan Hamilton

“I would like to see a challenge where the contestants design and execute a set of specialty glasses. Rocks, Martini, red wine, highball, water, brandy snifter, juice cup, etc. There is enough variety in barware for a challenge like that.” Jason McDonald

“I would have loved to see a challenge where each maker was only allowed to use one tool from their tool bag, and it can’t be jacks! For example: make a tumbler with only a pair of tweezers.” Mike Shelbo

“Glass art represents love. What is love for you and how do you visualize it?” Nao Yamamoto

“If I could plan a challenge on Blown Away it would be that contestants have 10 years to buy a house with money they earn from blowing glass. Ready? Go!” Ben Silver

“I have been thinking about this recently and discussing it with my Sidekick Bethany. I think the challenge ‘Weapons of Glass Destruction’ would be my choice! I made a body of work titled Half-Life a few years back which was informed by the continuing threat of nuclear destruction and disaster we are all living with and I’d love the opportunity to revisit this theme.” Elliot Walker

“If I could plan a challenge it would be to design and create an architectural installation where the glass incorporates and elevates the interior’s detailing and crosses surface plans. Glass is outstanding in the way it can capture light, movement, reflections, and refractions. Put all of that together into a site-specific arrangement that highlights your signature style.” Andi Kovel

Andi Kovel.

“I’d like to see a spin-the-wheel kind of thing. Put a random assortment of words on it, then the contestants spin it and make something based on the word they get. There’d be some good reactions.” Brad Turner

You can watch both seasons of Blown Away now on Netflix!

And when you’re done, why not stop by the Museum this summer to see our exhibit Blown Away Season 2, on view through January 2022. Showcasing how the artists responded to challenges that pushed their creativity to the limits, you can learn more about each contestant and read their own thoughts about the work they created for the show. Plus, discover how the Museum has been involved with the show as a creative partner since its conception, watch a behind-the-scenes documentary filmed on set by the Museum’s Digital Team and see one object from all 10 of this season’s contestants. Then, explore everything the Museum has to offer and maybe even try glassblowing for yourself.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: