I met Sally a few years ago and I was really curious to learn more about her craft as a glassblower. It's not everyday you get the chance to meet someone with such a unique creative skill and artistic mind. It was great talking with Sally and learning more about what she does and the challenges artists face when trying to manage the more practical elements of their lives. Sally gives an honest look into the realities of running a business while being an artist and presents some helpful perspective for others who might be on a similar path.
For those who might not know you, give us an idea of what you do?
I am a freelance glassblower that does a lot of my own speculative work; that's anything sculptural or functional but it really depends on where my head is at, what's happening in my life or what I'm working on at a given moment. I also do commission work for people who are looking for particular glass object to be made. I also have done some public art and sometimes I’ll do repairs. Since glassblowing isn't a super common thing, I find I do a variety of different work.
How did it all start and how did glassblowing evolve into being your full time career?
I discovered glassblowing when I was pretty young, around sixteen, and it naturally felt like something I wanted to do. Not having the right guidance in high school, I didn't actually get into it until I was in my early twenties. I had a couple years of misguided university where I followed the path you were supposed to follow. I went to university and took geography because I really liked weather, volcanoes, and natural disasters. It was the only program I was interested in enough to focus on during school. I don't regret going to university, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons, however, it was a big waste of my academic time. I eventually found an arts program at Sheridan College and I applied right away. There were three schools in Canada that offered glassblowing and Sheridan College happened to be really close to where I was living at the time so it was a perfect fit.
By the next fall I quit university and went to college. The funny thing is, it didn't really dawn on me until three years into the program what I had actually chosen to do. I'm a really impulsive person who doesn't mind massive amounts of change and I was really psyched about the idea of glassblowing, so I went for it. It took me a few years to recognize that I was signing up for a career in the arts and it was something that was going to lead me to the world of freelance. I really didn't wrap my head around this until I was well into it. In hindsight it was probably a good thing because I'm not sure I would have continued pursuing it if I knew an entrepreneurial life was ahead of me.
You said you were sixteen when you discovered glassblowing. Where did you experience it for the first time?
My brother is a sailor who was teaching in Bermuda and on a visit I walked into a glassblowing studio that was making souveneiry type stuff. It was really hot and it was really active. I was a big athlete in school and anything challenging, body wise, I was always interested in. Watching them work with this beautiful material that caught light in interesting ways really inspired me. I don't know if every kid has a natural attraction to glass, but I definitely did. I always wanted to play with little bits of it, like those glass beads, or the things you fill vases with. Seeing all this activity in one place, I thought, 'This is it. This is what I'm going to do.' In retrospect, it was a really important moment.