Artist brings passion for glassblowing to OTR

Amanda McDonald has an unusual problem for an artist: she has too many interested buyers and not enough pieces of her work. Her newly launched company, Goose Alley Glass, harnesses her love for glass blowing, but lacks one important component of the craft: a standalone studio.

Currently, McDonald rents space from other studios by the hour, but her first order of business is to open her own studio.
“The initial start-up cost is pretty high, which is why a lot of glass artists travel,” she says, pointing out that she’ll need a furnace, which must run 24 hours a day, in order to work.

She maintains a temporary showroom at Findlay Market, but has no regular hours because, well, it’s hard to be at an offsite studio and in a shop at the same time. Still, she arranges tours and sells commissioned pieces on request.

As a painter, McDonald was drawn to the strong, bright colors created when sunlight pours through stained glass. In fact, it’s how she got into glassblowing. “Today, stained glass is made from mass-produced, flat-sheet glass, but originally, it was blown,” she explains. “As soon as I got interested in that, I started working in a gallery attached to a glass blowing studio, and the owner started teaching me to blow glass. I fell in love with it, and 10 years later, I’m still doing it.”

Her work is a combination of personal style and function. She wants people who come to her studio to have the same experience she did: seeing the glass blowing process alongside finished pieces. The challenge, she says, is creating glassware, jewelry, servingware, lighting and interior decorating items that people will choose instead of mass-produced glass. 

“For functional glass items, why wouldn’t you just get something off the shelf at Target?” she asks. “We work hard to provide unique, contemporary work that will have a style of its own.”

Working with one other artist, McDonald says her priority right now is keeping enough glass on the shelves to entice shoppers. Her dream? To create a space where “anyone will be able to walk away with a memory,” she says. She hopes to have her studio open by next spring.

By Robin Donovan
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