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Montana Western offers Glass Blowing Degrees

May 2, 2017

The University of Montana Western is now offering certificates, minors, and degrees in glass.


In these programs, Assistant Professor Michael Hengler will share his expertise, teaching students various techniques to shape glass for artistic, scientific, or everyday purposes.

Professor Hengler’s first degree was actually in Italian Literature. He used it to travel the world where he studied several different methods to sculpt glass.

His international experience will give an edge to glass students at Montana Western.  Next year, an Italian Master will be visiting the glass students in the third block.

Glass is a unique artistic medium. I asked Hengler what he finds so appealing about it.

“When you work with glass, it’s a liquid; it’s alive. It reacts to gravity, centrifugal force. It breathes with your own breath. It’s a very intimate relationship between artist and art.”

“It’s romantic in a way. You have to work within the principles of the material. It’s an elegant dance.”

Along with its artistic applications, Hengler is also an expert in glass blowing and sculpting for practical means.

“I made an apparatus for scientists at the south pole to research the origins of the universe. Making something like that, you have to be insanely accurate.”

Glass As Means of Expression from University Of Montana Western on Vimeo.

The University of Montana is currently the only four-year university in the country to offer a degree with a scientific glass specialization.

Working with scientists is not only a lucrative career path, but Hengler believes it provides tools very applicable to art.

“It presents students with technique for artistic expression. By working in such a controlled manner, it allows you to say exactly what you mean.”

Working with glass allows starving artists to supplement their income between projects. There is always work for a specialist in glass.

“You’ll have opportunities to work in academia, galleries, and private studios. You can travel the world, work in production for factories, or do custom installations. It’s a very practical career path,” Hengler said.

Along with the courses, there will also be paid internships available which can be done simultaneously with school.

In a post-internet world, finding a niche is often the key to success. A glass degree should be very attractive to students looking to find employment in a crowded job market, but the process itself is even more alluring.