Jesse England was 19 years old when he fell in love with glass. 

“You kind of sacrifice your body for your art,” he said. “I was kind of drawn to the danger.”

England is a participant in the Glass Art Sale hosted by the glass art program 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, with a silent auction 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, at the Studio Arts Center. Works of art made by students and faculty members will be for sale and for auction. England said he might have about 60 pieces in the sale.

England said he was drawn to the physical process of glassblowing. He grew up in Council Grove, Kansas, around construction workers, linesmen and machinists. Because of this, he said he identifies with welders, hammers and chain saws and appreciates the values of manual labor required in glassblowing.

England said glassblowing is a lot of hard work in the heat. He said glassblowers have to make split-second decisions and play with the glass in the right way before it cools down.

Because of those decisions, there is an element of surprise in glassblowing, he said.

Once the object is ready, it has to be kept aside for about a day for it to cool down.

“It’s always a little different from when it is hot,” he said.

England, who is also an art and art history graduate teaching assistant, is inspired by students. His students surprise him when they come up with ideas and techniques that didn’t occur to him. 

“You can learn from anybody,” he said.

England said he uses construction materials such as wood and metal, along with glass to make his art.

David Keens, art and art history professor, said he has seen England’s work evolve.

“We want artists to learn, grow and challenge themselves. Jesse has done that,” Keens said.

Keens said England’s work now is different and better from his first year as a graduate student in the program. England’s work, which combines different materials together, is interesting, Keens said.

“He likes to refer to it as ‘interaction of materials with one another,’ ” Keens said. Keens has been working at UTA for about 39 years.

England wants to move to Seattle, “which is the mecca for glassblowing in America,” and work for an artist and produce his own work on the side.

“It takes a lot of team work,” he said about the process of glassblowing.

Once a person takes the molten glass on a blow plate, someone must press it from the other end while the artist turns it and blows into the blow plate. 

Glassblowing junior Matthew Everett said he enjoys the team aspect of the art because each member gets to learn something different in the process.

Everett was England’s student in the intermediate glassblowing class where Everett said he learned technical skills related to glassblowing.

“Everybody has a different way of making, say, a cup,” he said. “I got a lot more refined technical skills from him.”

Everett helped England make some pieces for the upcoming Glass Art Sale in the Hot Shop where students heat up the glass, blow it into different shapes and designs and leave it out to cool down. 

This article, originally published on March 27,  has been updated with correct information.


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