The University of Wisconsin’s Glass Lab is celebrating its sixth decade of operations this year, according to the UW School of Education website.

UW associate professor of glassworking Helen Lee discussed the Glass Lab’s celebration of this milestone throughout the 2023-24 academic year. Events will include open houses where the Glass Lab will provide demonstrations, as well as interactive events where individuals can create their own glass artworks with assistance from the lab’s staff.

“The [UW] Art Department usually has — in the fall — rotating exhibitions of all the different areas,” Lee said. “The Glass Lab typically exhibits their work publicly at that time. But, this year that’s being done through six different exhibitions of alumni and current student works, so this year, it’s kind of like [typical years] on steroids. Graduate students have individual solo shows in the spring semester.”

The UW Glass Lab is the first collegiate glass program in the nation, founded in 1962 by Former UW Ceramics professor Harvey Littleton, Lee said.

According to the Corning Museum of Glass, the American Studio Glass movement started during the 1950s. Littleton participated in this growing movement with the establishment of the UW Glass Lab. Littleon’s early students such as Dale Chihuly and Marvin Lipofsky contributed innovation to the glass-blowing field, according to the Corning Museum of Glass.

Glass-blowing artists can work with warm or cold glass, Lee said. Warm glass is made into art through kilns and molds and cold glass is made into art by cutting, grinding, polishing and etching the glass.

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