Ronnie Hughes

"I was born in 1954 and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I learned glassblowing with the help of a friend after graduating from Wake Forest University in 1976. Spending only two weeks working with glass, I was hooked. Since I had received no formal art training while getting my Bachelor’s Degree, my aptitude for glassblowing was a huge and pleasant surprise. I originally created small works, and eventually worked with J.R.R. Tolkein “Lord of the Rings” characters and other fantasy themes. The Tolkein flights of fantasy sparked my love of detail and I enjoyed the challenge so much that I decided to make glassblowing my career. I have spent the past 35 years creating my artwork for galleries, art shows and private collections.

In 1980, after hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I came upon a field of hundreds of breathtaking Pink Lady Slipper orchids.   This inspired me to change my subject matter completely.  I began creating native wildflowers exclusively and continue so to this day. I had discovered what I felt was a most satisfying blend of subject matter with medium.


Trademark qualities of my work have been the accuracy of the flower structures combined with a distinctive organic style.  Using both clear and colored glasses, I create my wildflowers and then integrate them with my free-formed, solid glass bases.  I developed these bases 27 years ago and have found that they lend organic continuity to my work.  I find that I am able to capture the essence of the flowers with more movement as they spring from their natural-looking base.  My sculptures stand entirely on their own in continuous glass, a more challenging and time-consuming process.

Borosilicate (hard) glass is my medium. Using propane and oxygen-fed torches, I heat the glass to a molten state (2000-2500 degrees Fahrenheit). At these temperatures, the glass becomes pliable enough to shape into accurate looking wildflowers. My goal is to create original delicate works of art while maintaining durability at the same time - a difficult balancing act which requires diligence and careful craftsmanship.

I work by myself, employing traditional flameworking techniques to create my sculptures. There are no molds, specialized tools, glue, or paints used. After completion, each piece is annealed at 1040 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln, then cooled gradually back to room temperature. This process removes all thermal stress from the piece, making the glass as strong as it was originally. All pieces are then examined under a polariscope which ensures that the sculpture has been properly annealed before presenting it to the public. If necessary, my glass can be flame repaired if broken, which means my sculptures will retain their value afterwards.  This is impossible with soft glass.

Although I am currently using colored glass to highlight the blossoms of my flowers, clear glass has always been integral to my sculptures. I believe that the purity of clear glass lends a mystical feel to the flowers, emphasizing the delicacy and fragility of our natural world. The colored blossoms provide a vibrant focal point while the clear glass challenges the observer to look more closely and to use his/her imagination to complete my vision.

I am proud and honored to be affiliated with:

Philharmonic Center for the Arts, North Carolina Natural Museum of Science, The Glass Art Society, The American Craft Council, The Southern Highlands Guild, Ohio Designer Craftsmen, Handmade in America, Piedmont Craftsmen, Carolina Designer Craftsmen, Lexington Art League, and North Carolina Mountain Arts Alliance.

I am grateful for the opportunity to create three exemplary teacher awards annually via the Rhododendron Society at Appalachian State University.

We are enriched also when participating with such exceptionally talented artists in the juried art shows around the country-- to see such beauty as well as art in its many unbelievable and various forms".