Skip to main content

An exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art ignites not just the visual, but all of the senses found in a glassblowing hot shop.

Katherine Gray: (Being) in a Hotshop is installed in Gallery 18 through May 12. Gray, who grew up in Toronto and is co-host of the upcoming Netflix reality show, Blown Away, told The Blade that the genesis behind the show was to share the sensory qualities she has experienced over the years as a glassblowing artist.

“There are a few smells that are pretty particular to working in glass in the hot shop. I think I felt a little nostalgic thinking, oh man, I’m going to miss this smell someday and thought it would be nice to preserve that, and it blossomed from there,” she said. “I started looking at other senses that might be activated in a hot shop — that feeling of warmth from all of the equipment, some of the sounds you hear.

“There are obviously glass objects in the exhibition but I didn’t want them to be in the foreground, I wanted engaging the other senses to be a big part of the experience.”

The project took Gray about two years to bring to reality. Highlights of the installation are being able to inhale different smells encountered in a hot shop through diffusers that release scents developed by a perfumer in the installation Paper, Sleeve, Wax, Block, and listening to the sounds made during the glassblowing process through a drinking glass positioned on the wall.

“The idea is that you can kind of eavesdrop on this intimate conversation, this kind of private conversation between the tools and the hot glass,” she said.

Gray, 53, who has her own studio in Los Angeles and teaches the art of glassblowing at Cal State University, San Bernardino, said her work focuses on functional glass forms that are incorporated into larger pieces, such as A Rainbow Like You in the Hot Shop installation. She also stars in Blown Away, a reality show in which contestants participate in glassblowing challenges in each episode and are judged by Gray, the show’s co-host, and a guest judge. The show is already airing in Canada and is expected to be released on Netflix later this spring.

For more information on Gray’s work or the Toledo exhibit, go to or More information on Blown Away can be seen on its Facebook page.

■ The Ohio Arts Council this week has awarded Individual Excellence Awards to 78 artists in the state in recognition of their work, including five artists from Lucas and Wood counties.

Awardees in the Toledo area were: Erwin Redl of Bowling Green for 3-D visual arts; Jordan Buschur of Maumee for 2-D visual arts; Deborah Orloff, Sylvania, for photography; Zac Weinberg, Maumee, crafts; and Lynn Whitney, Waterville, photography.

Each artist or artist collaboration is awarded $5,000. For more information, go to

Source: Experience glassblowing magic through all of the senses