Located in an Art Deco-style former gas station dating back to the 1920s, Wakefield’s The Glass Station is both a glassblowing studio and a gallery with a penchant for whimsy and the unpredictable. Artist Eben Horton famously hides more than 500 glass orbs around Block Island’s greenways each summer in a project that’s half treasure hunt, half conservation education, and along with partner Jen Nauck hosts a monthly contest in which local students can see their drawings of monsters come to life as glass art.
The partnership between Jen and Eben is in some ways a marriage of opposites: Jen is self-taught and has created an innovative sculpture technique involving small glass bubbles fused together (“My work comes from a very pure place and is a product almost entirely of my imagination and experimentation in the studio,” she says), while Eben has formal training from The School of American Crafts and the Penland School of Crafts, and has taught at The Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York.
The classes at The Glass Station close a circle for Eben, who was introduced to glassblowing as a child when his grandparents signed him up for a class. “The experience was fun, and while I did not leave the class with much knowledge about making glass, I felt that it was a fascinating process,” he says. “The ornament I made stayed with my grandparents, and I would always look forward to seeing it come out in early December when they decorated the tree.”
“Because I can pinpoint what started my interest in glass to that one little workshop, I have always offered the same style of class at my studio, because I feel that I owe it to the world to keep that opportunity available to anyone else,” Eben continues. More viscerally, “I find it quite enjoyable to see the expression on people’s faces after they inflate a 2,000-degree blob of glass with their own lung power,” he says.