By Alexandra Fresch, Glass Axis marketing and gallery manager
Hilliard High School student and soon-to-be fine arts major at Bowling Green State University, Matthew McCrae, became the youngest glassblowing student to pursue glassblowing at Glass Axis, which has now shaped his career path. We chatted with him about his journey.
Alexandra: What made you want to start making glass art? What attracted you to it?
Matthew: I was getting help after school from my math teacher, and she showed me some pictures of her daughter’s final glass exhibition that she had gone to see at the University of Hawaii. I knew immediately that I wanted to learn how to make glass look like those pieces.
Alexandra: Why did you choose Glass Axis?
Matthew: My mom did a search for glassblowing in Columbus and there it was, Glass Axis, and they offered classes. We scheduled an introductory class, we showed up on a hot September Saturday in 2016, loved it, and never left. I was just 12 years old.
Alexandra: What was your journey?
Matthew: I started taking the beginning experience classes in glass blowing and torch. I also did some volunteering around the shop to understand more about how things worked. I was so fortunate to be able to work with so many talented instructors at Glass Axis: Jacci Delaney, Alex Fresch, Emma Hasse and Rose Succi. After a few months of classes, I started taking private instruction for glassblowing. I wanted to learn as much as I could so I could make great pieces of glass on my own. There was a lot to learn. I was in the studio to practice my skills weekly. I was also able to take summer intensive classes offered by Glass Axis. I was able to learn from Nadine Saylor and Ed Schmid when they came to teach at Glass Axis. After completing required classes, at 15, I was able to start working on my own at the studio. I have had great support from everyone at Glass Axis.
Alexandra: You are lucky to have a supportive mother to let you play with fire at such a young age. Has she become interested in glass while spending so much time at the studio with you?
Matthew: Yes, she did. Because of my age when I started I always had to have a parent in the building. My mom started volunteering to offset some of the cost, and then started sampling some classes. She learned quickly an open flame was not for her, so she started fusing and it stuck. She assisted in setting up kiln club at Glass Axis and teaches introductory and kids fusing classes. We are a team now and sell our work at Glass Axis shows, and other local art and craft events.
Alexandra: What are your future plans in glass?
Matthew: I am graduating from high school in May and I am attending Bowling Green State University in the fall to pursue a BFA in studio arts. I am most interested in their glass and photography programs, but am open to whatever else I may discover while I’m there.
Alexandra: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Matthew: I’m thankful that the Columbus art community has so much diversity and opportunities for everyone to explore. It has provided great opportunities to me, and the ability to explore my interests.
Alexandra: Are you working on anything in particular right now?
Matthew: I’m working on putting handles on vases, so I’m planning on having a few of these new pieces at Glass Axis’s Spring Sale this April. I make pumpkins year round to make sure I have plenty for the fall events. I am interested in learning more about glass sculpting and seeing what I can create with my new skills.
See Matthew and his mother’s glass art at Glass Axis’s Spring Glass Art Sale, Apr. 8-10. Visit www.glassaxis.org/springsale for more information or to sign up for a class and give glass making a try just like Matthew!