Tracy Glover: A Love Affair With Glass
Homeowners throughout New England and beyond can bask in the glow of Tracy Glover’s long love affair with glass.
For Tracy Glover, it was always about glass. As an artistic child growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, she was taken to art classes and museums, and she spent a lot of her time sketching. But her artistic drive found its focus when she came across a picture of a woman blowing glass. “The Rhode Island School of Design was the only art school I applied to, and I applied as a glass major,” she says.
Glover’s early attraction to glass blowing stemmed from fascination with the material. “Glass is amazing: it’s fluid, but it turns hard. And while it’s fluid, you can endlessly manipulate it for color and shape,” she says.
At RISD, she was overwhelmed with art that was new to her. “I had never seen his work before, but I loved Joseph Cornell. I was taken by painters like Kandinsky. And Dale Chihuly was a huge influence on me.”
Chihuly, the superstar glass artist, who had taught at RISD before moving to Washington state, was no longer on the faculty but was still involved in its glass-blowing program. “Once a year, he would come to Rhode Island, put together a team, and take over the glass studio,” she recalls. “It was a big spectacle that really expanded my view of the possibilities of the medium.”
After graduation, Glover worked with a number of artists and sculptors, including the renowned Vermont glass artist Robin Mix. In 1992, she settled in Providence, Rhode Island, to work for a production glass company. “I discovered that I really like making functional objects,” Glover says. “And I kept on falling in love with the way light moves through blown glass. It’s so beautiful! Once someone showed me how to wire lamps, I went crazy.”
Two years later, she opened her own studio in an abandoned dye factory in the nearby city of Pawtucket. In the years since, Glover has become a sought-after source for hand-blown vessels, door knobs, vases, and lanterns. But her lighting fixtures especially have endeared her to architects, designers, and homeowners. She produces an array of sconces, chandeliers, table lamps, floor lamps, and pendants in organic shapes and varied colors, all offered with a variety of hardware finishes. “For me, colored glass has always been my love,” she says. “I am fascinated by how colors layer and change. Right now, I am drawn to a lot of blues and greens. I’m fantasizing about a lot of beautiful shades of water.”
Her 5,000-square-foot studio is divided into a hot shop and a cold shop. The old factory’s industrial-strength ventilation system, installed near the dye vats, stands Glover in good stead when she and her crew work in the hot shop, where the furnace reaches 2,000 degrees. Natural gas and forced air fuel the furnace. Glover employs five people, three of them glassblowers. “Now, I do all the designing,” she explains. “When I found people who could replace me, it freed me up, timewise.
“I am always coming up with new products,” she adds. “Everyone who works for me is an artist or a musician; they don’t want to do the same thing every day. We all love it: the physicality of it, the way things change so quickly in the process, the way you get unexpected colors happening before your eyes.”
She sells her products at New York trade shows, via sales reps and showrooms throughout the United States, and has sold work to clients in England, Scotland, Dubai, Canada, and other far-flung places.
She is quick to credit her success to New England’s design professionals. “I have to give a shout out. The community has been hugely supportive,” she says. “They have helped people to understand my products, and how they will make their homes more beautiful. Their clients say, in addition to loving how it looks, they feel good about buying something that’s made by hand by a local artisan.”
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