Artistic experiments with glass
Tim McFadden was a freshman studying business at Salisbury University when he took his first glassblowing class.
Eleven years later, the part-time Towson University professor of art and design said he hasn’t looked back.
Today he’s showcasing his glasswork in galleries, teaching courses, creating work for clients, and making work to decorate his home. He also performs at birthday parties for children and adults.
McFadden said he teaches a workshop at his home every day, and a class once a week at Towson.
His special topics art class in glassblowing has been offered each fall and spring semester for the past three years, and will continue to be offered in the future.
Hannah Pertalion, a senior sculpture major taking McFadden’s class, said having your work break often is part of the process.
“It’s always a little disappointing, but you’re learning skills,” she said. “So it’s really more about the learning than it is the product. Not to say I’m not ridiculously happy with all the stuff I take home every week. But it is about learning. So if something breaks, it’s no big deal, you can make something else later in the night if there is time.”
The beginning of the semester is about learning proper technique and gaining functional knowledge, while the second half is more about experimentation. Because the course is once a week for four hours, students can make an entire piece or two in one class period.
But that doesn’t always mean they will, since many times, piece will break.
“When you’re first learning, you break a lot of stuff, and it’s frustrating. But if you love it, you can see through the initial hardship and you embrace the creative side of it,” McFadden said. “And the more you practice, the better your work turns out, so it’s really rewarding. But it doesn’t come easy at the start. You have to put the time in.”
McFadden said that since his college days, he has wanted to continue glassblowing and teach others about it.
“When I graduated, I wanted to keep working with glass,” McFadden said. “It was such a cool thing for me to have access to in college. It changed my life. I think it would be cool for these kids to have that opportunity, especially prospective artists.”
Pertalion said she is glad to have taken the course.
“Tim is a wonderful teacher,” she said. “He’s very understanding, and he’s really, really good at working with people who have never touched glass and have no clue. It really is a fantastic class, and it’s such an incredible opportunity. There aren’t many glass blowing studios, so this is wonderful.”