Behind every glass pumpkin is a story. Meet the glass artists who created these one-of-a-kind works of art.
Aaron first started blowing glass at Buck’s Rock, a summer camp in New Milford, Connecticut, at the age of 11. He continued working in various glass studios in the greater Boston area until the age of 23. After receiving a BA from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Aaron studied with world-class glass sculptors. Since 2009 Aaron has been resident artist at EnergyXchange in the mountains of North Carolina near Penland.
A native of Seattle, WA, Brent worked as a production glass blower and designer at the Glass Eye Studio before relocating to Chicago in 2011. He has taken classes around the country, has educated himself in glass technique and illustration concepts at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA, and the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, and has interned with Benjamin Moore Inc.
Daniel has been turning up the heat on glass throughout his life. He started with stained glass at the age of 12, bringing touches of color to the windows of his family home. Torch work followed and Daniel made beautiful glass beads to adorn his wife. For 10 years, Daniel has been dipping into the crucible to create barware, bowls, vases, and home accents. Most recently he studied Venetian-style glass blowing under William Gudenrath at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY. Daniel owns Nordic Nectar Glass, a name that reflects his Norse heritage and his propensity for mixing up some potent potables.
A resident of Sacramento, CA, Eric began glass blowing when his wife purchased a Groupon experience with Shannon Jane Morgan for his son, only to discover his son was not old enough to participate. Eric went to the lesson instead and became hooked. He continues to work out of Shannon’s studio.
George grew up in Highland, IN. Even at a young age George had an interest in the arts, but he didn’t discover glass until 2000. After delving into stained glass and fusing, he found his passion in hot glass. Starting with torch working, George quickly became accomplished at making beautiful hearts and other pendants. After a two day glass-blowing class, George quickly learned that his talent went beyond the torch. George works out of his own studio.
Gigi Erickson has been involved with glass for over 35 years. She started in stained glass, working for some very prestigious artists. In 1990 she started glass blowing. Pumpkins are one of her passions but she makes many other things in hot glass. Her pumpkins can be seen in many different countries around the world. She works solo in her studio but enjoys company.
Two years ago, Hillary Glueck-Pratali found glass blowing when her friend Sandy Pratali needed a guinea pig to try a lesson plan for a new class she was going to be teaching. Hillary loves the art of glass blowing and is excited to see where it will take her.
Holly Behrends graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting in 2006. While in school she was exposed to numerous materials and fell in love with glass. In 2007 she started working at Chicago Hot Glass as a shop technician and instructor for the Holiday Ball workshop classes.
Ian Duncan works with glass because of its versatility as a medium. He portrays familiar objects in glass to impersonate consumer products. His current work deals with a variety of large-scale glass fishing lures. The installations invite the viewers to interact and become part of the work as they mingle around each lure, inspect them, and ultimately find a favorite.
Jeff Alan Smart
Jeffrey Alan Smart began working with glass in 2000 when he took his first class at Talisman Glass in Chicago. He went on to study glass through the Chicago Art Institute, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY, and Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI. In 2003 Jeff began working with glass professionally from his home studio. Around the same time he began working with George Tessman of GT Glassworks. Working with soft glass and Borosilicate glass gives him an unparalleled perspective allowing him to create a variety of unique pieces.
As an abstract expressionist painter, Jill Zimmer creates visual representations of the intangible. When given the chance to apprentice with Shannon Morgan at Girl Glass Studio, Jill saw it as a opportunity to create functional 3D expressions of her abstract paintings. She says it is truly an honor to be among the new generation of glassblowers learning this unique art form, rich with history and cultural significance.
Kit Paulson received her bachelor of fine arts degree from Alfred University in western New York in 2004. Since then she has assisted a number of glass artists and honed her skills as a glassblower in a variety of studios. She has taught at studios in the Chicago area. Kit Paulson lives in Chicago, IL and when not engaged in glass endeavors, she can be found messing around with wool, sewing machines, fiddles, and banjos.
Kyrana Michaelson’s journey onto the path of glass blowing started out of necessity, when Shannon Morgan needed an assistant on the studio floor in a pinch. In five days’ time, Kyrana found herself doing public demonstrations in front of crowds of up to 250 people every 30 minutes. In addition to glass blowing, Kyrana expresses her artistry through photography. Currently, Kyrana and Shannon are working on a collaborative endeavor in which Shannon interprets Kyrana’s photography in glass.
Matthew Urban attended the Philadelphia College of Art and Design, where he studied industrial design and glass. After completing his BFA, he worked at the Tyler School of Art and the Philadelphia College of Art and Design. Urban has been a production assistant for Michael Schunke at Nine Iron Studios in West Grove, PA, and Tom Farbanish at Certified Glass, as well as working as an artist-in-residence, instructor, and gaffer with the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY, and as a staff member at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA. In May 2007, he completed his master’s degree at Illinois State University in glass/sculpture. Urban uses only recycled glass for all his designs and sculpture.
Michael received his diploma in product design from the Kent Institute of Art and Design and continued on to the University of Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK, where he earned a BA with honors in glass. He received an MFA from Illinois State University in 1998. After graduation, he designed and built a hot shop for Kokomo Opalescent Glass in Kokomo, IN, where he worked as a studio director, designer, and gaffer until he opened his own studio in October 2007. He is currently creating functional designs and mixed media sculpture in Bloomington, IL.
Mary Rose ‘Rosey’ Merkin
Mary Rose Merkin was born and raised in Downers Grove. Rosey received a BFA from the School of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She attends glass-focused workshops and creativity conferences. She is a technician at Chicago Hot Glass and is the lab supervisor in the Glass Art Classroom at New Trier Township High School.
Sandy Pratali was bit by the glass bug while watching a glass-blowing demonstration at Burning Man, an annual art and music festival in Nevada, in 2003. She took her first class from Shannon Jane Morgan shortly thereafter. She continues to work and teach at Girl Glass Studio in her hometown of Sacramento, CA.
Shannon Jane Morgan
Shannon Jane Morgan, an artist in the Chicago and Sacramento areas, has been working with hot glass for 20 years. She is primarily self-taught, having graduated from the school of “Sweat Equity.” Since 1995 she has explored and become widely known for her colorist approach, delving into glass color in a painterly fashion. She was inspired by a request from her mother when asked if she could “paint like Monet” in glass. Her craftsmanship is highly regarded by gallery owners, collectors, and friends for the deep emotive quality in each creation. Her intensity in creating glass art is related to her need to express herself on a very personal level and to connect with another person.