Based in Pawtucket, RI, Tracy Glover Studio is now a source for an array of hand-blown, decorative lighting fixtures and accessories, specializing in custom projects for any space. Tracy lives in Edgewood, RI; constantly gaining inspiration from her neighborhood just as she did as a child. As an avid oarsman, she draws inspiration from the prismatic meeting of sunlight and water, which is invariably echoed in her designs.
Alexandria, Virginia, is a one-hour bike ride from many of the museums in Washington, D.C. I know this because I used to ride my bike from my home on the weekends and would sketch in the gardens of one of the embassies near the Corcoran Gallery of Art. When the weather was hot I would slip into one of the museums to cool off and stroll through the exhibits. Most of the museums were free when I was young.
I have been making things my whole life. My father was an artist and he would teach me how to paint watercolor clouds after dinner. We also built a dollhouse together and made our own art and furniture for it, including little clay sculptures inspired by things that I saw in the museums. When I was young we went to a Unitarian church that had art classes during the services. My mother would park me there and I never wanted to leave.
As a young adult, I saw a picture of a woman blowing glass in an art school catalog and knew I had to try it. Fortunately, I was accepted to the school from the catalog, RISD, and learned to do it myself. Years later, a photographer shooting my work asked me how I came to RISD. When I told him about the picture in the catalog he told me that he was the one who took it! At that point, I came full circle.
I was 28 years old when I built my first glass studio. I had no money, only passion, so I learned how to make a business plan and I got a loan from the Small Business Administration. With that money I ordered all of the raw materials needed to build a hot shop and I enlisted my friends to help. Then one day, a semi truck showed up in front of the studio loaded with boxes of brick and high temperature castable. I bought a welder and we got to work, building everything ourselves. The first day it was ready for use I went in at 6am so I could sit there by myself, look at the hot furnace and marvel that I had my own studio.
“I lose all track of time when I’m being creative.”
Today I live in a village in Rhode Island called Edgewood. My house is a bungalow that was built in 1910. When we first bought it, a 94-year-old gentleman came by and told us that he grew up in the house. He took us on a tour and showed us special places like the window he used to sneak out of and where his father “hid things of a personal nature.” He also showed us where he had a darkroom in the basement for photography and his father had a wood shop. His father made wooden whales with street numbers carved into them for every house in the neighborhood. I think the creative history of the house is a nice synchronicity.
My mother is Finnish so I grew up surrounded by Finnish design in our home. I am also a practical person, so my ideas tend to be for function. My mom always said, “If it doesn’t enhance your life, get rid of it.” This was long before Marie Kondo. Growing up, we always had a bag in the basement that was headed to Goodwill. I still live that way because clutter is so distracting to me. A messy studio slows down my process.
Most of my day now is spent making things for other people, but I like to slip in time for me when I can. I handmake all of the hard-wired lighting in my home as well as the doorknobs. I use my house as a place to try out experimental lighting designs so I can live with them, see how they function, and determine what does or doesn’t work about them. I switch things out all the time when I’m tired of them or think I could do better. It will drive my husband crazy when he comes home and there is a bare bulb dangling down from a cord because I decided I didn’t like what was there.
I never know when I will get an idea, it could be while we’re driving or out to dinner. I sketch my initial ideas on paper first. I’ll sketch on anything–the back of an envelope or receipt–whatever is handy so I don’t lose the idea. Later I draw it in the 3D program, Rhino, so I can see what it will look like from all angles. Once I am happy with the proportions we bring the sketch into the hot shop and start blowing. It can take several attempts to work out the details, and sometimes the idea gets scrapped altogether because we discover something more exciting during the process. Many of my designs are the result of happy accidents.
A lot of my ideas come from daydreaming while I’m on the water, rowing. I like watching light move on the water. It makes me think about how to capture that visual effect and translate it into glass. Bubbles are generated in my wake, which create changing patterns on the surface of the water as I pull my oar through. Similarly, bubbles in the production process are trapped air, a moment in time forever sealed within the glass.
I could come up with ideas all day but making business decisions is not fun for me, so it’s something I try to do in the morning when my brain is fresh. My biggest challenge is running the business. The reward for taking care of business is giving myself time to work on new things and brainstorm.
Tracy Glover Studio was founded on my pure love of glass and its ability to be manipulated into endless formations and color combinations. With attention to detail and authenticity inherent to the design process, I like to offer a multiplicity of choices: the proportion and shape of base components, glass color, lampshade fabric, metal finishing, and lamping. Each piece can be site-specific, allowing for optimal room for client input. I love to incorporate each client’s style into my pieces, guiding them every step of the way–from the design process, to production, and then installation–providing endless formations and color combinations.