An Artist’s Perception: A Conversation with Steuben Designer Eric Hilton

Eric Hilton

When passing through the galleries of The Corning Museum of Glass, guests often pause to marvel at the captivating artwork before them. Each individual forms a unique perspective on the pieces, connecting them to their own personal thoughts, opinions, and experiences. However, when you’re able to hear an artist speak about their thought process, life events, and motivations behind their designs, an entirely new frame of reference is introduced. I was lucky enough to speak with one of Steuben’s most renowned artists, Eric Hilton, to learn more about his time as a glass designer in the United States.

Hilton, originally from Scotland, attended The Edinburgh College of Art where he studied the subjects of glass, ceramics, silversmithing, and photography. After obtaining his MFA, Hilton transitioned from student to instructor, beginning his career as an educator at his alma mater. There, he helped to structure a new study program within the university’s design department. Throughout the 1960’s, Hilton taught courses at the Stourbridge College of Art (England), Birmingham College of Art (England), the University of Victoria (Canada), and The State University of New York at Alfred. In 1976, Hilton left teaching full-time to focus on his role as a consulting artist for Steuben, where he wasted no time in creating some of Steuben’s most mesmerizing works.

“One of the most valued factors in my association with Steuben is the opportunity to have created a series of large sculptural projects, with the first major work being Innerland,” Hilton said.

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Women in Glasshouses: Women in Science

This entry in the Women in Glasshouses blog series comes from Nancy Magrath, a former reference librarian at the Rakow Research Library.

Corning Glass Works built its first dedicated laboratory building in 1913 and hired Dr. Jesse T. Littleton, a physics professor from the University of Michigan, to head a physical lab. They were looking for the “next big hit” and felt more physicists would help develop their new glasses into what would become the major hit, Pyrex® Glass!

Evelyn Roberts, 1915, Senior Photo, University of Michigan Yearbook. Photo: Courtesy of HathiTrust.

Enter Evelyn Hortense Roberts (1893–1991), a University of Michigan math graduate. Beginning in 1917, Roberts worked in the Littleton lab where she did extensive testing on Pyrex Glass properties. Littleton and Roberts published their research findings in an article, “A Method for Determining the Annealing Temperature of Glass” in the Journal of the Optical Society of America. An image of Roberts testing thermal endurance by pouring boiling water on a Pyrex Glass dish resting on a block of ice has become iconic. Roberts returned to Michigan in 1920 to complete her master’s degree in Physics, only the third woman to earn that degree at the university. Roberts had a long and diverse career working in consumer product-related industries from Washington state to New York.

At the beginning of the 20th century, women such as Roberts were determined, strong, and talented. The lasting effects of World Wars I and II created cracks in the proverbial glass ceilings, which gave more women an opportunity to join the ranks of male scientists in academia and industry. Roberts was followed by other women scientists who made significant contributions to early Corning Glass Works research. You will find a few of these women included in the Glass Heroes section of the Corning Incorporated website.

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Keeping it Clean! CMoG Rises to the Challenge

It takes a lot to close The Corning Museum of Glass. We’ve experienced floods, snowstorms, and now a global pandemic! The majority of our closures have been fleeting in nature, but COVID-19 presented us with the prospect of the second long-term temporary closure in the Museum’s history. The Museum made the decision to close to the public on March 16, mere days before millions of other non-essential businesses followed suit. It was a difficult call to make, and with no end date in immediate sight, it was hard to close the doors and walk away.

We have to go back to June 22, 1972, to remember the last time the Museum was closed for an extended period of time. With much of our collection underwater after Tropical Storm Agnes dumped record levels of rain, the Museum remained closed for six weeks as a mammoth cleaning operation was underway. The Museum reopened on August 1, a stronger institution for having overcome adversity, and we now remember this time as one underscored by the dedication, resilience, and tenacity of our staff.

Aerial view of The Corning Museum of Glass surrounded by flood waters Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass, photo by Jerry Wright
Aerial view of The Corning Museum of Glass surrounded by floodwaters. Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass, photo by Jerry Wright
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Fiber Optics at 50! How Corning Connected the World

Did you know that every call you make, every video conference you participate in, and every show you binge-watch is possible because of the network of glass underneath it all?

Fiber optic technology is the backbone of our communications networks all around the world these days. Video, audio, and data information is sent in the form of codes of laser light signals through tiny threads of precisely engineered glass known as optical fibers. Sending information in the form of these light codes has greatly increased the amount of information we can move and the speed at which it can be shared.

While the idea to communicate with codes of light signals had been discussed for many years, it wasn’t made possible until 1970 when scientists from Corning Glass Works (now known as Corning Incorporated) invented a capable combination of glasses. That makes this year—2020—the 50th anniversary of the development of the right glasses for this crucial technology!

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From CMoG with Love: Five Feel-Good Stories

The Corning Museum of Glass may be closed temporarily to guests and staff alike while the COVID-19 pandemic affects our community, but that doesn’t mean the work stops. Our staff and their families have been hard at work in many wonderful ways to ensure that they are doing everything they can to protect our institution, our collections, our communities, and ourselves while maintaining our position as a world leader on glass.

Here are just a few of the things that we’ve been up to.

Masks and gloves boxed up and ready for donation.

1. When the Museum temporarily closed to the public on Monday, March 16, 2020, and asked its staff to work from home, an assessment was made of ways that we could continue to operate and send aid to the local community. Our Operations team searched the campus and located 2,000 masks, 1,000 gloves, and some safety glasses, that could all be donated.

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CMoG Keeps You Busy: Things You Can Do at Home

Are you at home and in need of new sources of inspiration? Have you already exhausted your to-do list of house projects, cleaned the kitchen multiple times, finished several books, and asked everyone you know what’s good on Netflix? Well, don’t worry, The Corning Museum of Glass has some fresh ideas for you and the whole family.

We’ve searched our blog archive for a selection of unique things you can do from the comfort of your own home while still practicing social distancing, so let’s see what’s on the agenda for today.


Perhaps it’s time you dusted off all the old Pyrex you have stored away in various cupboards and hidden in the attic and gave everything a thorough clean.

Read this blog about how to correctly clean your Pyrex collection and restore everything to its former glory. Maybe you’ll want to start baking afterward!

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Connect with The Corning Museum of Glass from your Couch: A Guide to our Digital Offerings

Dear blog readers,   

We are in the midst of an unprecedented moment for museums and cultural institutions across the country. With widespread closures due to COVID-19, our most direct way to reach the public is no longer a viable option. We are all doing what we can to make sure the visitors who would normally walk through our doors know that they can still engage with us from the comfort of their homes.  

The Corning Museum of Glass

Currently, The Corning Museum of Glass is closed, and all scheduled classes, events, and programs are canceled until further notice. It’s vital that we do our part to promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19. And while you’re doing your part to stick close to home, we know you’ll be in need of some educational entertainment.   

With our vast and myriad collection of online resources, we’ve got you covered.  

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The Corning Museum of Glass Partners on Glass Competition Show Blown Away 

The Corning Museum of Glass is thrilled to share news of an exciting collaboration on the forthcoming Netflix series, Blown Away, which will bring the art and beauty of glassblowing to television screens around the world. A visually compelling process often described as “mesmerizing” and “captivating,” glassblowing has never been the subject of any major TV programming—until now.  

The art glass competition show created by Marblemedia, an award-winning entertainment company based in Toronto, Canada, Blown Away features a group of 10 highly skilled glassmakers from North America creating beautiful works of art that are assessed by a panel of expert judges. One artist is eliminated each episode until a winner is announced in the tenth and final episode. A co-production with Blue Ant Media of Toronto, Blown Away will air on the Makeful channel in Canada before coming to the Netflix platform worldwide later this year.

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