The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia

JAMES ALLOWAY



My Story begins in Portland Oregon. I was born on February 3, 1957, the oldest of three children. I have spent my entire life in the Portland area; my two children have attended the same schools that I went to while I was growing up. On a couple of occasions they have even had teachers that were my classmates when I attended school.

My first encounter with glass happened when I was in the fourth grade. My mother enrolled me in a summer school science class. I remember bending glass tubing in an alcohol burner for a class project. In 1970, I visited Colonial Jamestown, where the very first glass-house for our nation started operating in 1608. It is interesting to look at the postcards from this adventure to Jamestown and see that I am using the same tool everyday that they used in 1608.

My next encounter with glass would come in a high school ceramics class. Our class visited a stained glass studio where I first saw Tiffany style lampshades being made; I was very impressed with their beauty. A this time in my life, my father owned and operated a service station, which involved my other passion, working on cars. It seemed only natural that I would end up working as an auto mechanic. I did this for the next 10 years.

I sustained a back injury and needed something to keep me busy while I recuperated. I started taking a class in stained glass windows. This is where my ideas about glass really started to take off. I started visiting art galleries to look at stained glass widows to get different ideas and styles. In exploring the galleries I rediscovered another form of art glass: mouth blown glass. The art glass that I was seeing wasn't the same crude vessels that I was familiar with from Jamestown years ago. This glass was beautifully shaped and the colors were bright and bold. I knew at that time that I would not make any more stained glass windows, as I was enthralled with the idea of making mouth blown glass.



2-3/4 inch Portland Psychedelic Art Glass Marble



I investigated and soon found a glassblower in Portland that was giving classes. It is here that I was introduced to the basics of glassblowing. By the time that my eight-week long, two hours a day class was finished, I had constructed a studio in my garage. I consider myself to be 90% self-taught. My style has been inventive to achieve the looks that I envision, as nobody has ever told me what I "can't" do. In executing my style, it has eliminated restrictions allowing me to be creative from inside my mind. Glassblowing takes patience, timing and a passion to accomplish. Timing is everything when you are blowing glass. You can do the right thing at the wrong time and your work will turn in to a disaster. My desire to be successful in this craft draws me to my studio. The pleasure that others receive from my work keeps me there.



The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia wishes to thank James Alloway for donating to The National Marble Museum. His unique psychedelic designs are now part of the marble display.


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