Parents and children alike “oohed and aahed” as they perused tables lined with gorgeous, intricate icicle ornaments, Christmas trees, acorns, and many other pieces of glass-blown art. The festivities were part of Palo Alto High School’s seasonal Fiery Arts sale, in which glassblowing students sell the artwork they have created during the year to raise money for the glass program. This season’s sale took place on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.
Many parents and students work together to put together an impressive spread that attracts many members of the community.
Volunteer Dawn Billman helps at each Fiery Arts glass sale. She has been a key part in organizing each event, which raises money for the materials needed glassblowing students at Paly to create their works of art.
“Five years ago, I was one of the parents who set up these events to benefit this glass program, to keep the furnaces running, to buy the glass,” Billman said.
According to Billman, the projects the students create vary on the season.
“This is our holiday sale, so we focused more on items people would like to give as gifts, Billman said. “We have ornaments, we have little snowmen, we have trees, a lot of gift items,” Billman said. “We see people buying sets of glasses to give as gifts, which are actually functional.”
Junior Phoebe Crabb is one of the students who helped create the pieces to sell in the sale, and also helped to set up the event.
“What I usually notice is a bunch of people who come and basically marvel at all the varieties of glass art,” Crabb said, adding that the artwork makes for a great conversation starter. “It’s actually really fun to talk to adults about glassblowing because it’s such an uncommon form of art. A lot of people draw and paint but glassblowing is not commonly practiced.”
Instructional aide and Paly alum in the class of 2005, Peter Stucky, explains that while there are hundreds of standout items to choose from at each sale, there are undoubtedly some items that are the most popular.
“Pumpkins have been a long-standing item that people come to get, and newer items that we have brought to the program are snowmen and snowmen ornaments,” Stucky said. “Some other items that are really popular are the moose and reindeer ornaments.”
He underlined the importance of giving students the opportunity to sell their own art.
“I think it’s a necessity for educational, personal, and cultural growth, he said. “We need more of these opportunities [for students to sell art].”
Stucky also emphasizes the positive impact glassblowing can have on the Palo Alto community.
“I got into glass blowing in this class, and ever since I caught the glass bug, I made it my passion and my career,” Stucky said.
Crabb echoes Stucky’s sentiments and explains that she forged a connection with glassblowing despite never being an artistic person.
“I never found myself an artistic person I at all,” Crabb said. “When I took ceramics last year, I had no idea that glassblowing was a part of the class, so it was a pleasant surprise. The more I blew glass, the more I developed a love for it.”
Glassblowing is a part of Crabb’s identity and she hopes to continue making glass art during college.
“It’s something I don’t want to give up,” she said.