15 Years: Still Glowing and Growing

  • We educate over 20,000 people annually through free events, exhibitions, demonstrations, classes, and residencies. That’s over a quarter of a million individuals since opening!
  • We have hosted artists from around the world including Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Sweden, UK and many more countries.

About Glassblowing at PGC

  • PGC melts 30,000 lbs. of glass annually. 
  • The composition of our glass is silica, soda ash, and lime. All of the glass in the furnace is clear so that each artist can start with a clean palette and add colors as desired. 
  • Colored glass is made by adding metals and metal oxides to clear glass.  For example, manganese makes purple glass, copper produces either a red or turquoise blue glass, and gold will make a gorgeous (and expensive) cranberry red glass. 
  • The main tools used to create glass are heat, gravity, air, centrifugal force, and time.
  • The basic designs of the stainless steel tools have remained unchanged since Egyptian times.
  • Glassblowing is a team effort.  It is possible to blow glass alone, but it is limiting in the complexities that can be accomplished.  
  • Glassblowing is very much like dancing with a live medium.  An artist must be very smooth and learn to move at the pace of the glass. 
  • You may think that glassblowers must have strong lungs to blow glass.  Actually, it only requires as much breath as blowing bubble gum, AS LONG AS THE GLASS IS HOT!  The colder (less hot) the glass becomes, the more difficult it is to blow.  (When glassblowers say “cold” they really mean 1,100˚ F.)
  • The temperature of the furnace is 2,100˚ F. The glass is similar to the consistency of honey at this temperature.  PGC has two 1,000 lb. furnaces that are powered by natural gas. The furnaces are on 24/7.
  • The Glory Hole is a “reheating chamber” for the glass. The glass needs to be reheated frequently (about every 30 seconds) to remain malleable at upwards of 1,200˚ F.  It is powered by natural gas and maintains a 3,000˚ F working temperature.  The Glory Holes are only turned on as needed.
  • The Annealers are kilns/ovens where finished pieces of glass are placed. The temperature is 925˚ F.  When the workday is finished, a computer program will bring the temperature slowly down to room temperature. This process takes about 8-10 hours and allows the glass to cool slowly so it will not break.  If this process does not occur slowly, stress will build up between the moving glass molecules, causing cracks and instability.

Glass Before Steel 

  • Pittsburgh was famous for glass before steel.  It was known as “America’s Glass City.”  The city’s strategic location on an inland river system made it an ideal location for the manufacturing of this fragile product.
  • In 1902, there were over 150 glass factories in Western PA, Eastern Ohio, and West Virginia. By 1920, this area produced 80% of the glass in the United States. 
  • Pittsburgh-produced glass has been used as fine tableware for U.S. presidents, as tiles for the walls of New York City’s great tunnels, as searchlights at the Panama Canal, and in street lights and lamps around the world.

Green Building LEED “Gold” Certification

  • The building is a “Green Building” with a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
  • This building was originally a Studebaker dealership. Over the years, it has also served as a mattress distributor, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a detention center, and the East-End Food Co-Op.
  • Recycled materials were used whenever possible, including doors, windows, bricks, and sinks.
  • Portions of our energy come from wind power and waste heat from the glass furnaces is used to heat the building during the winter months.  The building also utilizes a lot of natural light as well as fresh air intakes. 

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Winter Hours

We are open today from 10am – 7pm

  • Sun 10am – 4pm
  • Mon 10am – 7pm
  • Tue 10am – 7pm
  • Wed 10am – 7pm
  • Thu 10am – 7pm
  • Fri 10am – 4pm
  • Sat 10am – 4pm