Lino Tagliapietra Shows Us Glassblowing Teamwork

Beverly Smaby, Richard Smaby
Lino Tagliapietra Shows Us Glassblowing Teamwork

Lino Tagliapietra is currently visiting the Tacoma Museum of Glass for two weeks. We had a rare opportunity to see how this master glass artist from Murano, Italy, works. We sat for one and a half hours, while Lino created beautiful art out of glass.  Assisting him was a team of eight experienced glass artists and a commentator. The commentator himself worked with Lino for 16 years. His explanations were critical to the understanding of what was happening.

The huge complex of ovens melting glass at more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and the tall cone carrying that heat to the sky by themselves are enough to draw visitors to Tacoma’s Glass Museum. But watching Lino orchestrate the complex process of forming molten glass into a colored vase or a novel shape transforms the viewer.

Lino Tagliapietra Shows Us Glassblowing Teamwork

The various tools and techniques for manipulating the hot glass are fascinating. Watching Lino at 80 years old wielding the punty, blowing the pipe, shaping with the block and paddles, and cutting hot glass with huge shears is inspiring. We watched as he and his team produced colorful oblong globes using Murrini and cane techniques, then inserted one inside the other, and finally reshaped the melded vessel. The result was exquisitely beautiful.

But Lino brings another dimension to the Museum hotshop. We witnessed this amazing choreography of teamwork in the hotshop.  Not only was he focused on all the different activities happening simultaneously, but so were all the members of his team.  And all of them were so attuned to the project that they moved usually wordlessly from one task to another in a unified choreography.

For a brief history of glassblowing and a description of various glassblowing tasks see this Wikipedia site.

Lino will be in Tacoma until February 22. Check the Museum of Glass website for events Lino will participate in.