Glass blowers utilize their creativity, talent and dedication to create ornamental pieces or scientific laboratory equipment. Glass blowing can be studied within both undergraduate and graduate-level arts programs. Undergraduate students may take classes in stained glass, ceramics, mixed media and sculpting. Master of Fine Arts programs are available with a concentration in glass. This is a terminal degree program where students complete multiple studio courses while practicing their skills in glass art and blowing. Online coursework in the field is not typically available.
When considering schools with art programs, prospective students many want to consider the facilities and equipment each school offers. Those interested in glass blowing may want to look for schools with a continuous melt furnace, processing ovens, coldwork facilities, sandblasting rooms or individual studio spaces.
Community colleges offer 2-year programs that introduce students to art and art history in general, while allowing them to focus on glass. Applicants need a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Some colleges allow high school students to apply and begin taking courses part-time before graduation.
Students attend a 4-year college or university to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. They receive more detailed instruction on artistic expression throughout different historical periods than in the AFA program. Students are also exposed to art cultures in different regions of the world and to current issues in art communities. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry into the program. Some schools that offer a BFA degree concentrate specifically on art or other creative studies, so there may be strict application requirements. Interested students may need to prepare and submit a portfolio.
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree is offered at universities and typically takes 2-3 years to complete. This advanced degree helps glass art students develop their unique style and find their niche as professional artists. Applicants must hold a baccalaureate or equivalent degree from an accredited school. Fine arts and related majors are beneficial to interested students because a portfolio of past work is a crucial component of the admission process. Schools also may request that the applicants submit artwork or essays.
Associate of Fine Arts in Glass Art
General education courses, including English, math and social sciences, are necessary for an Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) degree. Students also take required art classes that introduce various media, along with electives that focus on fundamental concepts and techniques involved in glass blowing including properties of glass, necessary equipment and proper procedures. Some course topics that will likely be offered are:
- Art history
- 2-D and 3-D art
- Stained glass
- Mixed media
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Glass Art
Students complete general education and fine art requirements. Upon completing mandatory courses, students may choose from various glass art electives. Studio courses in which original works of art are crafted are an essential component of the training. Glass students become proficient craft artists capable of operating glass blowing equipment used in hot and cold glass shops, including saws, sanders and annealers. The hands-on experiences and opportunities for experimentation provide students many chances to refine their skills and explore their personal interests. 3-D art and glass methodology courses that may be offered include the following:
- Intermediate glass blowing
Master of Fine Arts in Glass Art
Programs teach the students to refine and personalize their perspective on art and to interact with glass artists throughout the world. Intense studio work allows students to hone their skills and become proficient in advanced techniques in glass. Students usually take several semesters of glass workshop courses, where they can focus on projects that accommodate their personal interests. Classes on theory and art criticism are often required in order to expand the artist's perspective. Courses that a master's degree student might take cover the topics below:
- Advanced glass blowing
- Contemporary art issues
- Art theory
Popular Career Options
Students with an AFA may apply for a glass blowing apprenticeship or continue taking courses to earn a bachelor's degree in fine arts. Graduates with an associate's degree may be able to find an entry-level job related to the arts and may work for employers such as the following:
- Crafts company
- Advertising company
- Community art program
Graduates with a MFA degree may have greater success as self-employed artists due to their advanced skills. Graduates can find work in art institutions or teach at a postsecondary school. A few common job opportunities are:
- Museum curator
- Gallery exhibit designer
- Art critic
- Art consultant
- Glass art instructor
- General art instructor
Many graduates of a fine arts bachelor's degree program with a concentration in glass blowing are self-employed as professional artists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), self-employed artists face stiff competition and uncertain earnings. The BLS also reported that fine artists, including glass blowers, can experience financial struggles, but extremely talented and reputable artisans are often economically successful (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for craft and fine artists overall are expected to increase by 2% between 2014 and 2024, as reported by the BLS.
Students interested in glass blowing can find art programs in the field available at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree levels. Graduates of these programs can work as various kinds of craft and fine artists.