In our “Handcrafted” series, we take you to the studios and workshops of the artisans, artists, and makers selling in Amazon’s store. When glassblower Dehanna Jones walks into her studio each day, she knows exactly what she’ll be creating.
Each step of Dehanna Jones’ glassblowing process is planned out and she gets one shot at getting it right. There is no pausing to think about the steps, or stopping and restarting later. Dehanna is a glassblower. She creates decorative vases, votives, Christmas ornaments, and more, all made of blown glass. It’s an art form that she has practiced for over three decades. In 1997 she opened Totally Blown Glassworks, her own glassblowing studio in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Dehanna was 17 and enrolled in college to study ceramics when she first saw glassblowers working. Enthralled by the process, she decided to try it for herself. “From the moment I touched it, it was just what I was going to do,” Dehanna says. She started blowing glass for fun, and after graduating from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics, Dehanna began working as an assistant to other glassblowers.
After years of working for other artists, and renting time in studios to create her own designs, she decided that she wanted her own “hot shop,” a studio with glassblowing furnaces and equipment. “I borrowed money from the City of Seattle through the Community Capital Development Program, and I borrowed money from all my friends, and I borrowed money from all my credit cards and built a hot shop,” she says. That was some 24 years ago. “I love coming to work in my own studio every day.”
Glassblowing is my job, it’s my hobby, it’s my fun, it’s everything. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
Dehanna’s father was a major influence in her life and art. “As long as I can remember, we always had a house full of all kinds of glass,” she recalls. “My dad was really an amazing guy. He always wanted me to just be able to afford the lifestyle that I was accustomed to.”
Her dad also ran his own business as an auctioneer and an antique dealer, so being a business owner is somewhat second nature to Dehanna:
There wasn’t that everything stops at five and you get to go home. You work all the time. You need to be a bookkeeper, you need to be a creative writer—so you can write about your products and about yourself)—you need to be able to take good photographs. You have to wear all these hats and that can be hard, but you are motivated by what we call “the carrot.” It is the reward of knowing that you are doing it for yourself, doing what you love.
Walking through Dehanna’s studio is like walking through a color burst. “Most of my work is considered what they call a ‘color bomb’ because I like a lot of bright color and I layer them on top of each other,” she says.
Dehanna makes her colorful pieces from color bars, which are pieces of glass concentrate shaped into rounded bars, and measured in inches. She melds a color bar to one end of a preheated long metal tool called the “blow pipe.” Then, she puts it into a furnace where the glass is melted and shaped at temperatures reaching more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. “Since, you can’t actually start and stop glassblowing, once you’ve committed to a shape, once you’ve committed to a color, you have to finish the piece,” Dehanna says.
Dehanna was attracted to glassblowing because of the challenge it represented. It takes careful precision and years of practice. “The idea that you are making something beautiful, but because it’s over 2,000 degrees, you never actually get to touch it [while you are making it], is an interesting challenge,” she says, especially given her experience with ceramics, where “you use your hands to completely shape the piece.”
Dehanna joined Amazon Handmade in 2015. She was transitioning from selling at galleries and art shows, which required constant travel, to online sales. “Being a selling partner with Amazon has allowed me to broaden my customer base and reach a larger demographic of potential buyers.” Selling online also allowed her more time for blowing glass and being home because it reduced the need for travelling to shows for sales.
After 24 years of running her own studio and business, Dehanna continues to love what she does. “I still learn something every day and I still enjoy it. Glassblowing is my job, it’s my hobby, it’s my fun, it’s everything. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
“Handcrafted” is a series taking you to the studios and workshops of artisans, artists, and makers, as they share their stories and give us a peek into their creative process.