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Inside The The World Of A Glass Artist In The Northwest

For hundreds of years, really, for millennia, the world epicenter for working with glass as an art form has been Morano, Italy. It's an island just north of Venice.  The legend is that Venetians moved the studios and hot shops to Morano out of fear the process of blowing glass was so hot and volatile that it would set fire to Venice. 

Today, the place artists from around the world flock to work with this finicky, delicate substance is the Northwest. Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Wash., just north of Seattle is a renowned institution and one of the reasons why the Northwest is known for glass. The school was founded in 1971 by Dale Chihuly.

To make more people outside of the world of glass aware of what happens at Pilchuck, the school has a galleryin Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. It's in a Suite 100. To celebrate Sound Effect's 100th episode, we are telling stories that originate out of Suite 100s. 

The story we tell from Pilchuck's Suite 100 is that of Lydia Boss. Lydia's work has been displayed in this space. She now works at the gallery part time. At 26, she is an accomplished artist who works in various mediums.  But, her first love is glass.

Lydia's fascination with glass began when she was in high school, living in Toledo, Ohio. 

"One of the things that I love about it is that it's so impossible. It's like your hot, you can't touch it with your hands, you can't take a break. there are so many things telling you "no" about glass. And I think that's what's kept me moving forward and pushing against that and saying, "Yes. I'm going to do this!'" Lydia says. 

Lydia was so excited to join the glassblowing community here that she skipped her college graduation ceremony to fly west, to Seattle.  She says she was a big fish leaving a little pond and quickly found that in Seattle, she was a small fish in a very large pond competing with talented glass artists from all over the world.

In this interview, we learn what it's like to break into this insular world and how in the end, the final piece, which is crafted with the help of a team of fellow artists, will always belong to the gaffer. 

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.