The Tacoma Glassblowing Studio is a wonderful little diamond in the rough. Located just off of 23rd street, it is just a short walk from campus and is an absolutely fantastic experience. Family owned by Mark and Jeannine Sigafoo, this store has been open since 2006 and is a welcome addition to the art community that has flourished in Tacoma. Mark is a well-versed glass artist who has been creating for about 18 years now and loves to help new artists discover their craft. Jeannine, who is the business head of the operation, helps Mark run this wonderful shop.
There are two parts of the shop. First off is the gallery, where you can see all of the wonderful art that they and other local artist have hand crafted. Did I forget to mention everything is local? All of the art in the galley is locally made, both by people who have used the studio professionally, and even by local artists in middle schools, high schools, and college. This wonderful studio even allows people to rent out the work area so people can work on their craft and make more amazing pieces which can be shown off and sold in the gallery.
The conditions in which the artist’s work is phenomenal to say the least; they work in a full studio. From furnaces to reheating chambers, they have everything they need to make amazing art for the community. The furnace runs at a “cool” 1,250 degrees Fahrenheit and is used to melt the glass together so they can start working on the next piece. The reheating chamber where they heat the glass to a moldable condition runs at a blazingly hot 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit and their base working temperature for the glass is between 1,800 to 1,900. As you can imagine, it can be very dangerous working with such hot material.
They do actually offer classes with some of the best teachers, all of who have graduated from local high schools, and love doing what they love at such a welcoming place. One of them, Donovan, expressed “Everybody loves to work here and we pride ourselves in our customer service.” I can say from just being in there for a short time I felt extremely welcomed from the moment I walked in and was even allowed to sit in and watch one of the classes.
Now some of you may be worried about taking a class because of the possibility of injury or cost, but if you have the interest they have the best pricing around for a fantastic lesson. One day workshops are $175, two day workshops are $250, six week classes are $650, and a one-hour weekend session is $65. Also for those of you who may be concerned and maybe are saying “well I’m no artist”, think again. Jeannine Sigafoos stated “We have eight year olds coming in with their parents. Glassblowing really is for all ages.” If you really want a great experience and want to have fun, I would highly recommend going by and taking a class. With a reasonable price and all the materials to create amazing sculptures, it is well worth your time. The staff are patient and some of the nicest and friendliest people I have had the pleasure of talking to, and no matter what your skill level with glasswork is, they are happy to work with you and turn you into a future artist.