What's Up South Texas!: Glassblowing artist teaches others in community

SAN ANTONIO – Glass art has always been captivating for resident artist Glen Andrews II.

“When I was maybe 4 or 5, my mom would collect these little unicorns and sailboats and she would bring it home and say ‘Look what I got you,’ and I would say ‘Thank you mother,’ and then she would put it up and say ‘Never touch it.’ I would be like, 'Thanks for my present that I can never touch' but I would just stand there and stare at it,” Andrew said. “The mystery of glass just got me that someone can make this into a horse or a boat or whatever.”

Andrews said he used to collect paperweights, but it was when he saw the art of glassblowing taking place right before his eyes several years later.

“I was in my early 20’s and I was in D.C. visiting my mother and I saw this man blowing glass and I was like he is not 10 feet tall! He is just a regular guy! I am a regular guy too! I can do this,” Andrews said. “As soon as I realized that I looked at my mother and I was like this is what I am going to do with my life.”

Andrews started his journey into the glass art blowing world, and after a series of trials, ups and downs, he eventually got to where he wanted to be in life.

“I started teaching at a studio before it shut down and then I worked at another which was a production kind of studio which was basically making the same thing over and over,” Andrews said. “I didn’t get into this to make the same thing over and over. Then this place opened up and I worked my way up and started taking control.”

He said the idea of making something into a liquid and then phasing into a solid and back into a liquid was like magic for him.

“You can make something so beautiful and it will last forever,” Andrews said.

It wasn’t just glass that captivated him.

“I love fire so much I considered being a firemen but then I realized when you get there we have to put the fire out and that wasn’t for me,” Andrews said. “Here I get to start fires every day and be around fire and glass which are two of the things I just can’t get over.”

In the beginning, it was frustrating for Andrews.

“I was forcing it to do what I wanted it to do,” Andrews said. “I learned a lot of philosophies I wouldn’t let life teach me. If you treat the glass well and the dance goes well then it gives away beauty and grace and I attribute that to material and not me or my ability to listen to it.”

Now that he has mastered the art of glassblowing, Andrews does what he can to keep the business alive with uniqueness and time spent with the community teaching them the art of glassblowing as well.

He works in a dynamic trio with the business’s director, Ruth Cushman, and the owner, Ralph Laborde.

“Ralph knows how to grow a business,” Andrews said. “Ruth comes from corporate and I focus solely on the art so with all of us together, we are able to do are jobs really well and cohesively.”

They hold classes throughout the week for a variety of people who are and are not familiar with glassblowing.

“It is really an awesome scenario because random cool people will show up and then get to learn about other people,” Andrews said.

He said he hopes others out there who have found their love and passion for something to stick with it no matter what.

“It is inevitable,” Andrews said. “In the studio, one of our favorite statement is that sound you hear is God laughing when we make plans because you have intention and then things change all of a sudden. You just stay focused and you will get to where and what you want to be.”

The business also dives into philanthropy work as well.

June 8, they will host a glassblowing demo from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. where all pieces are being donated to San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind.

If you know someone like Andrews who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.

About the Authors: