Tracy Glover, Designer-Craftsperson

Tracy Glover, Designer-Craftsperson

Tracy Glover's Jewel Box room divider

Tracy Glover's room divider

On her path to success as a designer-maker, Tracy Glover had to buck some trends, ignore some advice, and follow her own creative instincts.

She trained as an architect, but switched to glassblowing when she found herself “wanting to design the objects in the buildings, rather than the buildings.”  At the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1980s, she felt out of step with fellow students, “who were all making super-sculptural, conceptual things.”  That, for her, felt forced.

“In all honesty, I just didn’t have any ideas that were so-called ‘fine art’ ideas. I never even really wanted to try. I’d see people have this terrible struggle, [feeling] that what they were doing wasn’t worthy because it wasn’t fine art. Which is a shame,” Glover says. “I think something that is beautiful and functional, that you love, that gives you pleasure in your life, is just as worthy.”

Beautiful, functional, lovable, and a source of pleasure – that pretty much describes the colorful blown-glass lamps, pendants, sconces, chandeliers and home accessories Glover and her team produce today at her studio in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Ironically, she says, “I’m making things that are more sculptural now, instead of just functional. So I’ve come full circle, almost.”  

Not that Glover ever felt fully at home in the craft world, either. For years, on the show circuit, she was told her work wasn’t “craft-looking” enough: “People were saying, ‘Oh, you need handmade shades,’ or whatever,” she recalls. Finally she decided to target the interior design trade, “where the market was.”  It was a winning move. In addition to her production line (sold through lighting showrooms and lifestyle stores), she’s since branched out into hospitality, doing custom jobs for the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, plus various other ballrooms, foyers, and public spaces. “Glass walls, chandeliers – crazy stuff.  The crazier the better.”  She has also designed drawer pulls and a popular table lamp for Anthropologie (“an amazing, innovative, totally cool company”) and is currently exploring designs for rugs based on the swirly patterns of her blown glass.

Her time these days is split between blowing glass, tending to business, and dreaming up new designs, all of which she enjoys. “I come up with new stuff every year to get people re-excited,” she says. “They may not order the new things, but it might inspire them to go back to the old things. I have to constantly keep moving.”

Glover’s latest move is a big one, relocating her shop and showroom to a former textile mill, right on the water. “I love that whole Simon Pearce model, of this beautiful working factory,” she says. “Textile mills were so big in New England, and now all that has gone overseas. What’s cool to me is revitalizing a former industrial craft building, and putting an industry back into it.”