In the 1960s and early 1970s, the American studio glass movement was still in its infancy. “Learning to manipulate the glob of hot glass and create the shapes and details we wanted was very experimental,” explained Fritz Dreisbach, a pioneering early glass artist. “In the sixties, we often joked that mentors were glassblowers who had only a few more hours experience than their ‘students.’”
In 1971, a small group of studio glass artists started the Glass Art Society to share information, techniques, and enthusiasm. Their first meeting of nineteen glassblowers took place in Penland’s original glass studio. It was deemed such a success that they arranged a second meeting a year later, also at Penland. Henry Halem, one of the artists who attended the GAS II meeting, recently posted video footage showing Penland, these early glass artists, and the camaraderie of the meeting. “Hopefully this jiggly underexposed film will give you a bit of what it was like in those early days,” he wrote.
Take a look at the video below to see just how far the studio glass movement has come—and also the things about craft at Penland that haven’t changed a bit.
For more information about the history of the Glass Art Society, read Fritz Dreisbach’s full account on the GAS website.