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Supporting Artists and Economic Development at the Pittsburgh Glass Center

This year, we're growing our partnership with Pittsburgh Glass Center by supporting their Technical Apprenticeship Program, which nurtures new artists and supports economic development in our region.

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    Artist Julian Maturino of Salvador Alane Studios shows us how he creates his "Low Tide Whiskey Glass." To see some of the other products and industries that are #creatingwithgas, visit our Creating with Gas page. Thank you to our partners, the Pittsburgh Glass Center and TABLE Magazine, for capturing this glass blowing demonstration. And a huge thank you to Julian for sharing his incredible talent with us!

Though Pittsburgh is nicknamed the Steel City, it also has roots as a “glass city.” The glass industry made its way to Pittsburgh in 1797, drawn by the abundance of coal in the region used to power the firing furnaces. By 1920, roughly 80 percent of the glass made in the United States was produced in the region.

Today, the Pittsburgh Glass Center uses natural gas to achieve the extreme heat that artists need during the creation process, while also staying energy efficient with a cheaper, cleaner source of fuel. The Pittsburgh Glass Center is not alone in that effort. As of 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nearly 73 percent of the glass manufacturing industry uses natural gas.

Established in 2001, the Pittsburgh Glass Center is, however, unique in their efforts to bring the art of glass making to the residents of Pittsburgh through a publicly accessible studio, glass gallery, and live demonstrations. They are also dedicated to bringing even more glass makers to our region through the Tech Apprenticeship program.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center’s Tech Apprenticeship program is nationally recognized for workforce development within the glass art community. Not only does it bring young talent to Pittsburgh, but it also creates jobs at the Glass Center, enriches our neighborhoods, and bolsters the local economy.

The program is designed for students who have completed an undergraduate study in glass (BFA) and are looking to gain professional experience in a state-of-the-art studio. Apprentices work 30 hours per week as a studio tech and have 10 hours per week to work on their own creative projects. Apprentices are trained in the operation and care of equipment in all four of the Glass Center’s studios and gain real-world experience in the day-to-day operation of a glasswork facility that caters to all skill levels.

Prospective apprentices, especially ones outside of the Pittsburgh region, do not have to worry about finding a place to live and navigating through a new city. The Pittsburgh Glass Center provides housing for apprentices in a townhome adjacent to the studio on Penn Avenue in the city’s Garfield neighborhood, along with a monthly stipend to all apprentices.

In the past, Pittsburgh glass has been used in searchlights on the Panama Canal, as tile for the walls of New York’s transportation tunnels, in “Liberty lens” headlights for Ford cars, and in the windows on the crown of the Statue of Liberty. In the future, Pittsburgh Glass Center apprentices could take the art of glass from Pittsburgh to new heights. From glass jewelry to stained glass, the possibilities are endless. We’re proud to support the Pittsburgh Glass Center and these artists as they showcase how natural gas can help to fuel creativity and economic development in our region.  

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