List of Famous Glass Blowers & Famous Glass Artists Past & Present [Updated]
Glassblowing as a process and art form has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. The work of master artisans over many decades has shown that glassworking is not static. Many famous glassworkers have gone beyond the limits of their art to create pieces that were previously unimaginable.
These are # must-know glassworkers, both from the past and present, who rose to fame for their creativity, perseverance, and skills.
1) Rene Lalique
Rene Lalique was a jewelry designer turned glass artist. Lalique was born in France in 1861. However, he began his career as a Parisian jewel maker and began to experiment with glass five years later. Lalique’s glass designs included small bottles, vases, and other containers.
Perfumer Francois Coty saw Lalique’s work and invited him to work on perfume bottles for his company. Lalique switched his focus to glass production and created new techniques with clear and frosted glasses. Some of his most famous works include decorating the Cote d’Azur Pullman Express Train carriages in 1929 and creating chandeliers for the Normandie Luxury Liner.
Lalique’s work with glass helped popularize Art Deco and he continues to experiment with modern glassworking techniques.
2) Dominick Labino
(1910-1987 United States)
Dominick Labino was an inventor, scientist, and glass artist. Harvey Littleton was his collaborator at the glass workshops Littleton established in the 1960s. Labino discovered how to melt glass at lower temperatures and on a smaller scale, making glassblowing more efficient.
Labino, who held over sixty patents on industrial glass processes during his life, is credited with helping to advance glassworking as we know. Labino’s scientific approach and experiments allowed him to create new glass compositions and equipment.
Some of his most famous works include “Fountain with Blue” “Cased Aerial,” and “Polychroma,” which are all colored glass sculptures.
3) Harvey Littleton
(1922-2013, United States)
Considered the father of the American studio glass movement, Harvey Littleton is one of the most famous glassblowers of the 20th century. In 1962, he hosted the Toledo glassblowing workshop. Dominick Labino assisted him in melting glass at a lower heat and working in a studio rather than in a factory. L
ittleton went on to found the first glass program at the University of Wisconsin, which would educate famous glass artists such as Dale Chihuly. Littleton’s famous works include “Four Seasons,” “Opalescent Red Crown,” and “Implied Movement.” These glass sculptures showcase Littleton’s creativity and use of color and movement to create a sense of emotion and life in his glass pieces.
4) Vera Liskova
Vera Liskova was born in Czechoslovakia in 1924. She is the most well-known female lampworker of the 20th century. Her work was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art Show 1950 where she was first recognized as a master of her craft by the United States.
Liskova’s use of clear glass is well-known and her exquisite final products. Many of her pieces feature sharp lines and spiny designs. Both strong and delicate, Liskova’s work reflects the nature of the material used to create it. Liskova’s famous works include “Anthem of Joy in Glass” and “Harmonie.”
5) Marvin Lipofsky
(1938-2016, United States)
Marvin Lipofsky was one of the first students to work with Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin. Part of the studio glass movement, Lipofsky taught and directed the University of California, Berkeley’s glass program and went on to develop a glass program at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Lipofsky was a master of his craft and is often seen in museums around the globe.
Lipofsky’s work is prized for its rhythmic forms and abstract shapes. The majority of pieces are also adorned with vibrant colors that have been expertly matched. Lipofsky designed a wide range of pieces including sculptures, bird houses, and tombstones.
6) Lino Tagliapietra
Lino Tagliapietra was been working with glass for over 70 years. Tagliapietra was a Murano native, and was born in 1934. At the age of 11, he began his apprenticeship and was made a maestro when he was 21.
Tagliapietra has worked for 40 years in Murano glass factories. He is an independent glass artist and has been doing so since the 1990s. He has been a leader in workshops and programs all over the globe and collaborated with Washington’s Pilchuck School to bring Venetian glass styles to America.
In 2004, Centre College in Kentucky recognized Tagliapietra’s expertise and quality instruction and awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Tagliapietra is also an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Ohio State University, which he was awarded in 2012. Other awards include the 1997 Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2014 Career Award from the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti in Venice, the 2015 Best Glass Work Award from the Masterpiece Exhibition in London.
Tagliapietra’s work can be viewed in museums around the world, including de Young Museum (San Francisco), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC).
Lino Tagliapietra still works with glass, and divides his time between Murano (Seattle) and London.
7) Dale Chihuly
(1941-Present, United States)
As the most famous glass artist alive today, Dale Chihuly has reinvented glassblowing through his asymmetrical, freeform pieces and innovative techniques. Chihuly is a heavy experimenter and uses gravity as well as centrifugal force to create natural and flowing glass shapes.
Chihuly is best known for large-scale installations. His freestanding pieces and chandeliers are made up of hundreds of individual glasses that have been fused together. Some notable pieces include “Fireworks of Glass Tower and Ceiling” in Indianapolis, Indiana and “Sole d’Oro” in Asheville, North Carolina.
Chihuly is also a strong advocate for accessibility to art. The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation offers funding for individual artists and youth arts programs in Washington State. Chihuly also co-founded and led several glass art schools, as well as dozens of workshops on glassblowing.
8) Paul J. Stankard
(1943-Present, United States)
Paul J. Stankard is a pioneer of the American studio glass movement. He was born in Massachusetts, 1943, and began his career in glassmaking in 1961. Stankard was enrolled at Salem County Vocational Technical Insititute’s scientific glass program (Salem Community College). Although he was skilled in making laboratory instruments from glass, he preferred to make glass paperweights for animals and flowers.
Stankard decided to quit his glassblowing program in 1972. Stankard is regarded as a living master at crafting paperweights, and his work is displayed in more than 60 museums.
Stankard holds two honorary doctorates and is the winner of the Masters of the Medium Award from the Smithsonian Institute and Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Stankard is an artist-in-residence and honorary professor at Salem Community College. This is where he started his career in glasswork.
Paul Stankard, in addition to his work and demonstrations, is the author of three books on his life and glassblowing.
9) Pino Signoretto
Pino Signoretto was born in Venice in 1944 and is one of the most prominent glass artists in Italy and the world. Signoretto began his career in a factory glass at the age of nine to provide support for his family in times of economic hardship following World War II.
Signoretto began to work with Alfredo Barbini and other glass masters in 1959. They became his mentor and main teacher. By 1960, Signoretto himself became a maestro.
He opened his own studio in 1978 and collaborated with world famous artists such as Picasso and Dalí. Signoretto was a frequent traveler to Japan to trade the traditions of glass. A permanent exhibit of Signoretto’s work is located in the Museum of Venetian Art in Otaru, Japan.
Signoretto was also a teacher at American schools and created trophies for American basketball championships.
Signoretto is best known for his hot-shaping sculpture skills and was knighted in 1989 by the President Italy. Signoretto passed away in 2017.
10) Shane Fero
(1953-Present, United States)
Shane Fero was born in 1953 in Chicago and has been a flame worker for over 50 years. He is known for his bird figures and nature-inspired vessels.
His studio is situated next to North Carolina’s Penland School. It is one of several places where he has taught or demonstrated his work. Fero has also taught at Urban Glass, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School, and others around the world.
Fero’s work has been shown in over 33 solo exhibitions since 1992 and in 3 dedicated retrospectives. He is the past president of the Glass Art Society board of directors and the winner of the GAS’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.
11) Bruce Sillars
Bruce Sillars began working with glass as a student at California State University in 1970. He joined Douglas Boyd at Orient & Flume, which Boyd purchased in 1972. The studio is famous for creating collectible pieces inspired by nature. Early designs featured iridescent glasses, but Boyd and Sillars changed to 3-D clear products. They are still available today.
Sillars is renowned for developing the California Style torchworking methods that use hot glass to paint with colored glass canes. This process creates exciting visual details on Sillars’s vases and paperweights.
Sillars uses hot sculpting to transform glass gathers into animals or fruits. Sillars is a self-taught artist, making his innovations even more remarkable.
His work can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Chicago Art Institute, and the Corning Museum of Glass.
12) Doug Merritt
Doug Merritt is the cofounder of Vandermark-Merritt Glass Studios. He started his career as a glassblower making colonial-style glassware reproductions. His studio was also skilled in Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs as well as crystal sculpture and cased floral vase.
Merritt was born in New Jersey to a family that is entrepreneurs. Merritt knew that he needed to be his own boss from an early age and work with his own hands. His father gave him the task of leading a group of friends, and he had them build bricks and landscapes. This was his 12th foray into entrepreneurialism and team leadership.
Merritt learned from this experience how to be a leader. At the age 21 he was invited to learn glassblowing and was instructed by Jerry Vandermark. Merritt hated glassblowing at first and wanted to quit. He tried again, with a more positive attitude, and has continued to work with glass since.
Doug Merritt’s work has been shown in museums around the country, including the Smithsonian Institute, Boston Museum, and Colonial Williamsburg.
13) William Morris
(1957-Present, United States)
William Morris is a glass artist from California. He studied with Dale Chihuly for ten year before starting his own glass studio. Morris is known for creating glass sculptures that integrate myth, ancestry, ancient civilizations.
Morris draws his inspiration from Asian, Native American and Egyptian cultures. He creates pieces that celebrate the intelligence and tradition in peoples all around the world. His work is part of collections in the Corning Museum of Glass, the American Glass Museum, the Auckland Museum, and more. His works include masks and vases as well sculptures and figurines.
14) Martin Blank
(1962-Present, United States)
Martin Blank began his career in glass by working with Dale Chihuly. His work is inspired from nature and the human figure. His best known works include lotus flowers, abstract sculptures, and “Fluent Steps,” a 200 foot long outdoor sculpture at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. Blank describes himself to be an intuitive artist. He focuses on the use of negative space to create form and fluidity.
15) Carol Milne
(1962-Present, United States)
Carol Milne is the world’s only knitted glass artist. After experimenting with clay and bronze, she began working in glass in 2000. Her work is a metaphor of social structure. Her work is characterized by weak strands that when combined make one strong piece.
Milne creates glass knit sculptures and teapots as well as sculptures. Her color choices are vivid and organic. Milne is an artist who also hosts workshops and exhibits her work in the United States.
16) Ritsue Mishima
Ritsue Mishima is a modern Venetian glass artist living in Italy. To create unique pieces, she uses colorless glass as well as a mixture of traditional glassblowing techniques with contemporary decorative elements. Mishima is inspired by nature. Her pieces show her love for organic lines and freeform design.
Mishima started her career making vases. Now she focuses on abstract sculpture. Her art is intuitively formed and she doesn’t have a set plan.