Inside a Glassblower’s Studio
We met glass artist Richard S. Jones at his workspace, Studio Paran, where he both creates and displays an array of his handcrafted glass art. Studio Paran is located on the east side of Madison, Wisconsin, in the fittingly artistic neighborhood of Schenk’s Corners. As we entered, we gathered around the focal point of his studio—the hot and fiery furnace, or “glory hole,” as it is called in the glassblowing world. The glory hole is instrumental in the glassblowing process; it is used to reheat the glass to ensure that it stays malleable for reshaping.
The furnace, or glory hole, is a central feature of Jones’ glassblowing studio.
Jones’ passion for art developed at a young age when he began taking drawing lessons from a neighbor in his hometown. He later went on to earn a BFA in glass from the Rhode Island School of Design. Throughout the years, Richard has worked for and collaborated with many different artists, eventually joining other artists who worked at Studio Paran in Madison. In 2006, after working at Studio Paran for several years, he took full ownership of the studio.
The entrance to Studio Paran, Jones’ workspace.
Richard S. Jones and his assistant, Sam, typically work nine to five, Monday through Friday, blowing glass as demand requires. Richard and Sam have worked together for two years, which contributes to their seamless and almost choreographed glassblowing routine. It turns out that the secret behind glassblowing is repetition, repetition, repetition.
Jones and his assistant, Sam, work together to create each piece.
Jones shapes a glass vase.
There was a balance and synchronicity in their exchanges and transitions as they shaped the glass from molten orb to vase. We stood watching the two artists in action, mesmerized by the glassblowing duo as if watching a pair of ballroom dancers tango before us. The two worked in silence, evoking a sense of peacefulness and tranquility. To me, this seemed to speak to Richard’s use of the artistic process as a meditative practice.
Jones holds a blowpipe glowing with molten glass.
Blowpipes heat up in the pipe warmer before being used.
Despite what appears to be a seamless process to the outside eye, Richard believes that there is always room for improvement. He shared with us his plans for developing a new color palette as well as his recent exploration of an entirely new style of work. This is all evidence of the fact that Richard S. Jones is an artist dedicated to lifelong learning and continuous growth. We left Studio Paran with a deeper understanding of the artist behind the artwork; ultimately feeling a stronger connection to the pieces we encounter and share with customers on a daily basis.
Richard S. Jones uses shears and other tools to cut and shape his work.