Thomas Spake Studios
Can you describe your journey with glass working?
I’ve been working with glass for almost 25 years now. I took my first glass blowing class at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, back in 1994.
What types of products do you make, and why do you gravitate toward those?
I’ve always leaned toward creating decorative pieces – vases, bowls, and sculptures – that are inspired by the natural world.
How would you describe your style?
I feel that my style of work is really unique. It’s greatly inspired by impressionists like Monet, Klimt, and Van Gogh. I strive to create unique patterns and textures by using pigmented glass chips and powders that express the idea or impression of a landscape, opposed to creating an actual representation.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve ever made?
I just finished 12 large pieces for an exhibition at Central Piedmont College in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was a rare opportunity to explore some new ideas and techniques that really pushed my physical limits.
What is your creative process?
For my one-of-a-kind pieces, I usually start with a photograph and use the glass as a canvas to interpret the image.
What advice do you have for aspiring artisans?
Go all in, but only if your heart is in what you are wanting to do. Be patient with yourself and your skills, but work hard. You have to be willing to put in 10,000 hours before you can really see any kind of progress.
What is one misconception about glass working, and what do you want people to know about the craft?
I think one misconception about glass blowing is that you have to be able to have a great lung capacity. There’s really not a lot of blowing in glass blowing.
What do you love most about the work you do? What’s the most challenging?
I enjoy being my own boss and creating my own schedule, but this is a challenge as well. It takes discipline to get up and go to work and be creative all day, every day. Especially on days when you’re not feeling terribly creative.