Middlesex glassblowing artist Samantha Lightner can be found at Camp Meade in Middlesex with her mobile glassblowing furnace on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sunday evenings whenever there is music.
From 5 to 8 p.m. on those evenings she does glassblowing demonstrations and is now starting to create signups for people to take introductory classes in working with molten glass to create pieces that are formed versus blown.
“Instead of blown pieces I’m working on things like solid hearts and having people work their way up to make ornaments,” Lightner said.
She stores her mobile glassblowing furnace in one of the artists’ cabins at Camp Meade. It uses propane to heat glass until it is molten and holds 17 pounds of molten glass. On nights when there is music, she wheels it out and fires it up and it melts a pot of glass in a few hours.
She started doing the demos at the end of April and plans to continue all summer along with offering classes. She’s posting her class schedule on Instagram (@Lightnerglass) and she has sign-up sheets available while she’s doing the demos.
Lightner has been working part time at Mad River Glass Gallery in Waitsfield as an assistant to glassblowers David and Melanie Leppla for eight years and is excited to be branching out on her own.
“I’m hoping to do education for younger audiences about glassblowing, maybe do some home school groups for their arts projects. I may start to do some more, take it to smaller community arts places to do demos and give people the opportunity to learn how to work with glass,” she said.
“I’d like to get glassblowing out there and show kids that you can do this as your job and this is how,” Lightner added.
She is a native of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and studied glassblowing at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in South Millville, New Jersey.
“I worked as an apprentice there, basically learning on the job like a lot of the old glassblowers did. I worked for 10 different artists while there and then moved to Vermont to work for Dave and Melanie,” she explained, adding the fun fact that Dave and Melanie met at Wheaton Arts!
Asked what attracted her to glassblowing, Lightner said “I’ve always been in love with fire and when I found out that you can play with a molten material involving fire, I was instantly addicted. I started making glass beads on a small torch when I was in high school. At 17, I started doing furnace work and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 13 years,” she said.