When glass blower Anthony Corradetti moved into what was once the Hollins Market comfort station in Southwest Baltimore, his father brought him a housewarming gift that resembled a stick.

“‘What do I do with it?’ I asked him,” says Corradetti. “‘Fertilize it? Water it? What?’” The senior Corradetti had taken a shoot from the fig tree that stood in the back yard of the suburban Philadelphia home where he’d raised his family. That tree, in turn, had been grown from a shoot of his father’s fig tree.

Corradetti planted the shoot in the yard behind the building where he housed his own young family. “It was perfect placement for a fig tree, in the sun all day long, the baking south heat,” says the 47-year-old glass blower, himself a lover of the “baking sun.”

In eight years, the tiny shoot has turned into a prolific producer of figs— enough for Corradetti, his wife, Julie, and two children,  Lucia and Nicolo, to eat their fill each summer, then sell the excess at the Waverly Farmers’ Market.

Around the fig tree a wide lawn, rare for city gardens, spreads out. “It’s almost like a suburban lawn,” says Corradetti, walking toward beds full of azalea bushes, roses, peonies, geraniums, black-eyed Susans, lilies and dianthus. A crape myrtle with deep magenta blooms, also a lover of heat and sun, is two stories high. Arbor vitae are as tall as the stockade fence at the rear of the property. A Bradford pear is round and full, reminiscent of one of the iridescent glass vessels Corradetti creates in the studio.

Corradetti first worked with glass as an undergraduate at Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia. “Aside from being intrigued by the immediateness of this liquid material, I was captivated by the technique,”  says Corradetti. “The fire, the heat and the sense of timing involved all appealed to me.” 
His love of nature, ingrained since childhood, unconsciously affects his glasswork. “There are no right angles in nature,” he says— and there are none in his hand-blown glass pieces, which range from glass jewelry to lamps to bowls, urns, vases and abstract luminous canvases. His curvaceous creations are filled with swirls, microbial and cellular-looking structures, cherries, flowers— and figs.

Now that his family has moved to Sparks, the former comfort station is home to Corradetti’s glass-blowing studio, office and shop. Inside, boxes packed with Corradetti’s creations are ready for shipment all over the world. Sunlight dances off blue vases, amber bowls, a heart-shaped tray of purplish brown figs Corradetti made in July 2001 while teaching at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, where 25 years ago he studied under the renowned glass artist Dale Chilhuly.

These days he’s represented locally by Gomez Gallery and his work is included in collections at the White House, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Corning Museum of Glass and Wheaton Museum of American Glass, among others.

“Glass captures my attention like nothing else. It is 100 percent absorbing.  The gardening is more for relaxation,” says Corradetti. “I like to sit and look and be with nature.  I would never have bought this place in the city without the space for this garden.”

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