Beyond Chihuly: Glass Arts at Boston’s Diablo Glass School

Photo by Cydney Scott,

Earlier this week, Union Park Press intern Jane told us about the incredible glass art produced by Dale Chihuly, currently on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

I have to say, I haven’t heard this much about an exhibit at the MFA since… well, since Bill Koch planted two yachts in the front lawn of the grand building, as part of the exhibit “Things I love.” I began to wonder why: what was so unique about Chihuly’s work that it had excited Bostonians in such a way? Was it the vibrant color used by Chihuly in his work? Was it the delicate nature of the carefully blown glass? Or was it simply because the medium of glass was different?

I think it is likely the latter. Until recently, we simply haven’t seen a ton of studio glass art here in the United States. In places like Italy, glassblowing studios are commonplace – heck, there is an entire island off of Venice dedicated to the art and history of glass-blowing.  While we don’t have the tourist haven of Murano here in New England, we can certainly visit glass-blowing studios throughout the region, including several studios on Cape Cod and the studio of Simon Pearce in stunning Quechee, Vermont.

But for those that want to go beyond the “handle with care” signs and the “look but don’t touch” attitudes, they may want to check out a glassblowing studio that is just minutes away from Chihuly’s spiky green cactus in the courtyard of the MFA.

Diablo Glass School, located in a nondescript industrial building in the Roxbury Crossing area of Boston, is a place where you can do just that. Shortly after opening in 2001, the Glass School has made it a priority to make glass blowing accessible to the public. Offering daylong workshops, accredited courses, family sessions, teen training, and “Glass Fridays” – a more sociable, smaller class that ends with wine and discussion – Diablo Glass has introduced the art of glass-blowing to many people in the Greater Boston area. One Saturday a month, Diablo hosts Fire & Wine, a chance to experience both a wine tasting and to observe as the artists blow glass. While the instructors at Diablo may not have you creating thousands of tiny, delicate glass flowers, Chihuly-style – by the end of the class you will have had a chance to create something beautiful out of molten glass- which we think is a pretty unique experience all on its own.

What do the folks at Diablo think about the attention that Mr. Chihuly is getting over on Huntington Avenue?  Turns out, they are pretty excited. As instructor Max Queen told us, if he could say anything to the artist, it would be “thank you.” If it weren’t for his hard work in bringing the art of studio glass into the public eye, Queen says that he “could not be where I am as a glassblower in this community.”

Diablo Glass School, 123 Terrace St, Boston, MA 02120
 Phone: (617) 442-7444, The next Saturday night wine event is on July 30.

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