Crafting passion: How Claire Ferguson found joy and purpose in glassblowing

Written by: Grace Wood
Photography: Alexxus B.


When Claire Ferguson first saw an ad for a beginner course at Tulsa Glassblowing School, she had no idea the craft would soon become one of her life’s biggest passions.


Fast forward two years later, Ferguson is now an avid glassblower, constantly improving her craft and even taking commissions. Her impressive creations, which include wares such as multicolored vases, cups, ashtrays, and more, are a testament to Ferguson’s work ethic, and her growing passion for the art form.


“It’s a very cool feeling — I’ve never been this passionate about something in my life before,” Ferguson said.


Glassblowing first came onto Ferguson’s radar years ago when her older sister, who was in her teens at the time, took a summer internship at Tulsa Glassblowing School. Later on, when Ferguson was nearing the end of graduate school, she made a promise to herself to try a new hobby once she earned her degree.


“In graduate school, I was really struggling with my mental health,” Ferguson said. “One thing I would use to motivate myself to make it to the end was to tell myself: ‘After this, I’m going to take a class or learn something new just for fun.’”


After graduating, Ferguson said she made another promise to herself: To quit drinking alcohol.

“When I stopped drinking, I had a lot more free time and money,” Ferguson said. “In February of 2022, I saw an ad for a beginner glassblowing class and I just decided to go for it. After that, I fell in love with it.”


After finishing the six-week course, Ferguson said she was hooked and wanted to continue honing her craft. For a year, she continued to practice at Tulsa Glassblowing School for about an hour a week.


Because glassblowing is such a difficult and precise art form, Ferguson said she realized that if she wanted to keep improving and create the art she wanted to make, she would have to dedicate more and more time to working with glass.


“The second year, I started really committing to practicing — I was watching videos outside of classes, reading glassblowing references, and spending about four hours in the studio every week, and that’s really what made the difference,” Ferguson said.


She’d also started to find a welcoming new community at Tulsa Glassblowing School, and mentors like Alex Dulle, Katie Brukett, Jon Bolivar, Neal Richmond, Jake Arnett, and Alex Martin helped her gain more confidence around glass art. She also began volunteering at Tulsa Glassblowing School, helping out around the hot shop, cleaning, and setting up for workshops.

Time spent in the glassblowing studio has made all the difference in Ferguson’s mental health as well, she said.


“When I quit drinking, I got really depressed, because my body was adjusting to not having that self-medicating thing anymore,” Ferguson said. “Looking forward to blowing glass would give me a reason to stay alive, honestly. It gives me something to think about that’s happy and productive when my mind goes to dark places, which has been wonderful.”


It’s well known that for many people, achieving sobriety from alcohol can be a tough journey with plenty of ups and downs. One way Ferguson said she’s been able to stick to sobriety is by using glassblowing to hold herself accountable.


“Glassblowing would be super dangerous to do if you were messed up on any substance because it’s so hot, and you have to be super focused and speedy in the moment,” Ferguson said. “I made an agreement with myself that if I ever want to start drinking again, I can’t blow glass anymore. I know if I start drinking again, it wouldn’t just be one drink – it would start a whole train of chaos, and if I try to blow glass, I will hurt myself. So that agreement helps motivate me to stay sober. It’s not the whole reason I’m sober, but it helps to have that in the back of my mind.”


As Ferguson continued to improve her craft and share her creations on social media, requests for commissions started to fill her DMs. Last summer, she completed her first order: a small bowl to hold matchsticks. She’s created many fun creations since, including colorful ashtrays, glasses, and more.


“I like commissions because they challenge me to make shapes and use color combinations that I might not have thought of using,” Ferguson said. “I’m getting much faster, and I’m more comfortable incorporating colors, knowing how each color reacts differently to the heat.”


In addition to her commission work and her work at Tulsa Glassblowing School, Ferguson said she wanted to share her skills in a way that benefits the community. After the death of Nex Benedict in February, Ferguson decided to create a Pride fundraiser drop that comes out in June. The drop will consist of 15-20 small glass vessels in Pride flag colors, and a portion of proceeds will go to organizations benefiting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.


“I really wanted to find a way to help queer and trans folks in Oklahoma right now, and giving away my time and resources felt like the best way to do that,” Ferguson said.


Ferguson has no plans of slowing down her glassblowing work any time soon and hopes to continue pursuing it professionally as she continues to learn new techniques, like sandblasting, and improve her skills. She said she recommends working with glass to anyone in search of a new hobby.

“To anybody interested in glassblowing: You should absolutely try it,” Ferguson said. “It’s really fun and magical, and you can learn a ton about yourself from the material — it’s been very healing for me.”


To keep up with Ferguson’s glassblowing journey and for more information about the upcoming Pride collection, follow her on Instagram @flame.ferguson.