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Pawtucket Artist Tracy Glover Crafts Glass Fixtures for a Global Clientele

The Rhode Island School of Design alum turns glass into functional art in a Blackstone River antique mill.

Photo by Kelly Davidson

Tracy Glover’s obsession with glass started with her mother’s handblown paperweights that dotted her childhood home. It escalated when her sister returned from Jerusalem with a pair of glass bowls. But it really hit its stride at Rhode Island School of Design, where Glover studied glassblowing, and she hasn’t looked back.

“There was just something so magical about it. I didn’t understand how someone could make that,” she remembers of the Israeli vessel. “But once you get addicted to [glassblowing]…..”

Glover and her team now design and craft custom chandeliers and ceiling pendants, sconces, and more for business and residential clients all over the world. Coupled with options in glass color, shape, and metal finishes, these individual pieces are interchangeable to allow complete customization. If clients want a multitiered flower pendant with a different color palette and metal finish than what’s available, Glover encourages them to mix and match components to get exactly what they want. Stunning accessories, like apothecary bottles and vases, complement the bespoke lighting collection and foster the glass vibe in clients’ homes or businesses.

Glass parts for Glover’s caviar set in collaboration with Houses & Parties await assembly. / Photo by Kelly Davidson

Designed this way because of limitations due to equipment size, Glover says it’s a unique combination of clients’ wishes, style, and functionality with the studio’s capabilities. “Everybody wants big glass, so I try to think, how do I make something that has a big glassy presence but uses parts in a scale that we can fabricate?” she says. “My orbital chandelier was a response to that because it can go as big as 48 inches in diameter using a lot of glass components. It was inspired by the Fresnel lens used in lighthouses, so it’s a big geodesic dome covered in colored glass.”

Atypical collaborations also allow Glover to think bigger about her work and its purpose. Working with the high-end event company Houses & Parties, the studio creates four types of glassware (including bloody mary and cocktail goblets), as well as a salt cellar, cake stand, and caviar set with a ramekin for crème fraîche. Glover describes this tableware collection as “old-fashioned but with a modern twist.”

Always experimenting, she is now designing with alternate materials, including handwoven textiles, wood, and metal, in conjunction with glass. “To work with other materials that don’t have the limitations [of glass], there may be a different restriction, which is a fun challenge,” she says.

Glover is experimenting with alternate materials, including metals, and how they interrelate with glass. “I’m holding a glass petal fragment that is part of a new flower chandelier I’m working on, inspired by Queen Anne’s lace. The glass has a light coating of gold leaf, a new texture we are exploring,” she explains. / Photo by Kelly Davidson

Glover peeks in on her team of glassblowers in their 5,000-square-foot studio, which is housed in a historical mill building on the banks of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket. “They just loaded a finished piece of glass into the annealer, where it soaks all day at 880 degrees. It cools down all night at a controlled rate to avoid stress fractures in the glass and will be unloaded in the morning,” Glover says. / Photo by Kelly Davidson

Inspiration meets those creative challenges head-on, and Glover says she absorbs energy, color, and light from her surroundings, which she applies to her glass designs. An avid oarswoman, she rows the Seekonk River nearly every day, which she says is meditative and helps her troubleshoot projects she’s drafting. The historical 5,000-square-foot brick mill building in Pawtucket that houses her studio also has 15-foot ceilings, skylights, and Blackstone River views to stimulate her and her team. “Just having that space to spread out to try big things is wonderful. Everything is on wheels here, so we are always moving tables around and hanging things from the ceiling,” she says.

Meanwhile, everything they blow in glass unveils its utilitarian posture, juxtaposing strength with fragility. “My favorite part is when you’ve drawn the design, and it’s blown and comes out of the oven the next day, and you hold it and say, ‘wow, this is better than I drew it!’ I love it when that happens.”

First published in the print edition of Boston Home’s Summer 2023 issue, with the headline, “Head of the Glass.”