CELEBRATING 25: Glassblowers Share Their Favorite Memories

As the UN-designated International Year of Glass comes to a close, so too does the Museum’s celebration of 25 years of Hot Glass Demonstrations. 2022 has shaped up to be a busy, energetic, and fun year and that won’t change as we head into 2023. As Eric Meek, senior manager of Hot Glass Programs says: “Glassmaking is part of what makes the Museum an attraction for families that might not have museum visits on their radar. We can expand on that—there’s a lot more we can do!”

The Hot Glass Team has been putting smiles on faces for 25 years.

This is the final entry of our celebratory three-part blog series. In this blog, members of the Hot Glass Team look back at some of their favorite memories and experiences working for The Corning Museum of Glass over the past 25 years.

Eric Meek, Sr. Manager of Hot Glass Programs, hired in March 2005
“The thing that makes me smile most is the opportunity that we’ve given so many glassmakers—a meaningful stepping stone where they can become much better glassmakers, but on top of that, they’re more comfortable in front of people, more professional because of their association with the Museum. I’m proud of it because I know the role I played in fostering so many people to create their own path in this field they’re passionate about.”

Eric Goldschmidt, Flameworking and Properties of Glass Supervisor, first hired in March 2003
“I take a ton of pride in what I demonstrate here at the Museum because we’re carrying on such an important tradition that, for flameworking, has really been here now for 71 years and 25 years of furnace work in its formal state as the Hot Glass Show. To be able to share what I’m passionate about with the public, who always show a keen interest, is such a blast—it’s a fascinating opportunity that I’ll never forget.

Jeff Mack, Manager of Hot Glass Programs & Projects, hired in November 2015
“It’s such a blur because we do so many things and it’s so varied. Every engagement has so many different personalities. I got to go to Boisbuchet in central France, which was really great. The wifi wasn’t good, but it was so nice to disengage for a while. Everything slowed down and we could just focus on the work. That’s a great memory. GlassBarge is another good example of how you can make a crazy idea work. We pulled it off! I look back on that project and really cherish the memories. It seemed to exceed what we thought we could accomplish as a team. It was an amazing project and sums up the unique experiences our team gets to have in their jobs.”

Workshop participants with the CMOG team and Jaime Hayon.
Glassmakers, including Jeff Mack and Chris Rochelle 2nd and 3rd left), at Boisbuchet in 2016.

Catherine Ayers, Hot Glass Demonstrator, first hired in December 2011
“I was happy just to blow glass for the Hot Glass Show, but then I got to go to the Pyramids! I was always happy blowing glass in Corning, and then I got to travel the world and go places I never thought I’d go.”

Caitlin Hyde, Properties of Glass Demonstrator, hired in June 2011
“I love working with glass and having the opportunity to share that with our visitors. They can see the pride and passion we have for our work and we have the pleasure of seeing their enjoyment of it. What more can you ask!”

Caitlin Hyde, pictured in 2011, has amazed guests for over 10 years.

George Kennard, Hot Glass Programs and Mobile Hot Shop Team Leader, hired in July 2001
“I think back to the very first place we went with our mobile glassmaking: the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. That was an amazing time and event to be part of. But I also loved being on a cruise ship and seeing the glass collection at the Hermitage in Russia. For me, it’s all been a dream.”

Chris Rochelle, Hot Glass Projects Team Leader, hired in March 2010
“There are so many great memories. Years ago, we were invited to bring GlassLab over to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. We set up in the gardens outside the Louvre. I remember we could look left and see the pyramid and entrance to the Louvre, and then look to the right and see the Eiffel Tower. That was incredible. I also have a memory of cruising through the Mediterranean and seeing Mt. Vesuvius actively popping off—my jaw dropped through the floor!”

Chris Rochelle assisted by Jamie Perian onboard the Celebrity Eclipse off the coast of Norway in 2014.

Helen Tegeler, Hot Glass Demonstrator, first hired in January 2011
“I did a whole series of circus animals over two contracts at sea. I was inspired by all the acrobatics I saw on the ships. I did as much sculptural work as I could during that time. It was something I didn’t have an opportunity to do before. All those wacky sculptures I got to do just made me giggle, they gave me good memories of working with the team and just being inspired by all the things that were around us. It was nice to flex the creative muscle out there and have permission to do the ridiculous. It’s not something a lot of artists give themselves the chance to do: to entertain the ridiculous.”

Tom Ryder, Technician Demonstrator, first hired in January 2011
“I remember when one of the photographers at the Museum snapped a photo at the end of Lino Tagliapietra’s demonstration for the gala opening of the Contemporary Art + Design wing in 2015. Lino shook my hand and thanked me for all my help that week and the photographer snapped a photo right at that moment. That demo was fancy too—everyone was wearing tuxes. It was such a cool moment for Lino to even do that—all that prep, buzz, and hype—that was a really special moment.”

Tom Ryder (right) is thanked by the Maestro Lino Tagliapietra after their demonstration together in 2015.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our celebration of 25 years of Hot Glass Demonstrations and will join us in wondering what the next 25 years will bring.

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