The Birth of Glass Blowing: The Vitreous Age Begins (a collaboration with UrbanGlass)

Taught by Susie Silbert and Anders Rydstedt

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Susie J. Silbert was appointed Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at The Corning Museum of Glass in 2016. Prior to joining the museum, she was an independent curator as well as a lecturer on the History of Glass at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her recent exhibitions include #F*nked!, exploring the relationship between digital interfaces and handmade objects, Concept:Process, at Parsons The New School for Design, Material Location at UrbanGlass, and SPRAWL, an interdisciplinary exhibition interpreting urban development at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Her writing has appeared in exhibition catalogs for the Chrysler Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and UrbanGlass as well as American Art Collector, GLASS Quarterly, Metalsmith, the American Craft Council website and the forthcoming book CAST, on casting in all media, edited by Jen Townshend and Renee Zettle-Stirling. She holds an MA in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center.


Anders' relationship with glass is deep-rooted, starting with his great-grandfather and then grandfather, who were glass blowers in Sweden.  Continuing the tradition, Anders has worked with glass for over 20 years, since age fifteen, in numerous production and artistic studios throughout the Northeast.  He has studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Pilchuck Glass School, Corning Museum of Glass, Penland School of Crafts, Orrefors Glass School in Sweden and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Political Science.  Anders currently lives in New York City, producing his own line of design wares and takes on commissions from various designers, architects and artists.  He also works part-time as a studio technician at the Visual Arts Department of Columbia University.

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Since its development 4500 years ago, glass has become one of the most ubiquitous and useful materials on the planet. From glass sheathed sky-scrapers, to cell phone and computer screens, to the pints we drink our beers out of, glass is an everyday part of modern life the world over. But this was not always so. For the first 2500 years of its existence, glass was only produced in a small geographic area in the Middle East and Mediterranean. An elite material accessible only to the wealthiest members of society, glass objects—from jewelry to cosmetic jars and other small vessels—were small, luxurious, and relatively rare.

All that changed with the innovation of glassblowing around the year 0. With this faster, more fluid process, glass vessels became available to all strata of society from the wealthiest patricians to the lowliest slaves and quickly spread throughout the expanse of the Roman Empire. Before the first century CE was out, glass production had spread all the way from Rome to Britain and was used in many of the same ways we use glass today. From commemorative cups at sporting events to boutiques branded foodstuffs and windows, the Roman innovation of glassblowing set in motion much of the material landscape of the present day.

In this combination lecture and demonstration with UrbanGlass, we explore the pivotal moments around the invention of glassblowing. We’ll examine what came before its innovation, investigate leading theories about how the technique was developed, and demonstrate multiple types of blown vessels from the most simple to more complex.


*This class meets at UrbanGlass!*

Cancellation policy