Glassblowing is an intense, unforgiving art form that requires confidence in the execution and creation of each individual piece. For the most part, glassblowing techniques and traditions have not wavered with the changing of times, as artists still use the same tools and processes they did centuries ago.

Chris Fleck
Wednesday - December 01, 2010
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Lee add silver coloring to a glass bowl

remained constant,” he says. Those tools include the blow pipes, cutting shears, molds and tweezers.

Because glass-blowing is such an equipment-intensive medium, Lee explains, it’s at such a small level in Hawaii. He says that alternative power sources would be a tremendous benefit for the glass community.

There is now a studio on the Big Island run by former Punahou teacher Hugh Jenkins that works with melting glass using vegetable oil.

“Right now we use electricity, propane or natural gas. Just that we can get vegetable oil hot enough to melt glass is pretty cool and is a big step,” says Lee.

He loves to create his own original work, but working with clients and their design ideas is where the business aspect plays a part. Lee says he will make anything, from paperweights to custom lighting fixtures, to sculptures for hotels and resorts.

Island Glassworks offers a variety of classes and workshops to the public that have become increasingly popular, attracting 60-100 people a class. Island Glasswork’s Christmas ornament workshop, offered now through Dec. 18, is a great way to introduce yourself to glass-blowing.

Emily Thomas help Geoff Lee with the initial phase of glass layering

“You get to come in and pick a color and a design aspect - it is your breath combined with the instruction and guidance of an instructor, as you both create a unique piece,” says Lee. “It is really safe. Students do have to be hands-off for the safety of themselves. I’ve had children as young as 6 come in, as well as families that make it an annual event.”

In terms of getting his work and name out, Lee markets and exhibits his art. He has hired art consultants to show his work to galleries on the Mainland as well as showcasing his pieces annually at wholesale shows and expos. In Hawaii, Lee continues to enter the Hawaii Craftsmen show, Artists of Hawaii and Japanese Chamber of Commerce Art Exhibition for fun.

“I participate in a lot of local exhibits. I enter the shows and if I get in I am honored and stoked, but if not, I just try again the following year,” he says.

Lee cools down the blow pipe

Lee adds that he finds a lot of his inspiration from nature and the community, and loves working in Kailua.

“As far as Island Glassworks, I don’t want to be content with status quo, but I am more than happy to stay in Kailua and just be a part of this community,” he says.

For more information on workshops and classes offered at Island Glassworks, call (808) 263-4527 or visit

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