Anthony Corradetti rolls a metal pipe back and forth as his son Nico gently blows into the other end to expand a bubble of air within the hot glass secured on the other side.
Anthony and Nico have to get the pressure right or the piece they’re shaping will collapse. Workshop assistant Joshua Tracy trains the heat radiating off the glass with cherrywood paddles as Anthony smooths the glass with a wet wad of old newspaper and releases steam.
Consistently delivering on the vision of what you’re making takes many years, says the patriarch Corradetti, owner and artisan of Corradetti Glassblowing Studio & Gallery in Clipper Mill.
He’s been at the art of glassblowing for almost 50 years. “It’s an Old-World craft” and has had a niche following since the 1970s, Corradetti says.
It’s easy to find glassblowing workshops, studios and galleries—a recent Netflix reality competition show called “Blown Away” saw to that—but there was a time glassblowing wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
Following the Industrial Revolution, “most people knew glass as being made in giant factories,” Corradetti says. Only a few of these factories in the United States were still using handmade techniques. That prompted a group of artists in the late ’60s to learn the craft.
Their students later became teachers, and the studio art glassblowing movement was in full swing.
Corradetti had always held an interest in art, but he tried many forms of media, including painting, printmaking, photography and ceramics before finally studying glassblowing at Temple University.
What ultimately drew him to the art was the process. “I think for me it was very focusing. I tend to be kind of scattered,” he says.
You have to be in the moment. You can’t drift away mentally or physically. Glassblowing pulls in everyone’s energy at the same time, which is really cool, he says.
Corradetti can make a piece in a matter of seconds. Other works could take months.
The Venetian cane technique that Corradetti demonstrated for Baltimore Style took about an hour. It involved a delicate balance of heating, cooling, rolling and blowing to keep the shape centered and the striping design in its characteristic swirl.
The “blowing” part of the process involves blowing into one end while you roll the pipe to keep the pressure steady.
“You’re putting force on the outside and you’re putting force on the inside,” he explains.
Some of Corradetti’s projects depend on whether he needs multiple pieces or needs to secure it for a wall hanging, which adds time. Much of his business comes from commissions and the gallery in his studio space.
Large display plates and hanging lighting he did for Woodberry Kitchen are among his notable Baltimore projects. But his work has also made it into museums and even the White House collection. A piece of glass he created for the Clintons now exists in the Clinton Library.
During the cooler months—temperatures in his studio can reach as hot as 120 degrees in the summer—he offers workshops. Throughout the year, his studio doubles as a wedding venue with an “industrial chic” flair.
Although he moved into the space in 2005, Corradetti’s career in Baltimore began about 20 years earlier.
“A lot of it’s like following a path where it leads you,” Corradetti says. “You meet someone who leads you to somebody else and then you make connections.”
A sculpting teacher was instrumental in his decision to travel to Seattle to meet glass artist Dale Chihuly, which led to a long string of famous glassblowers he learned from, and through visiting a friend in Baltimore, “I fell in love with the city, you know?”
Corradetti opened his first studio in southwest Baltimore in the late 1980s. Since he worked with Schreiber Brothers Development, the team eventually reached out to him about occupying his current studio space.
The Baltimore developers had envisioned a building specifically carved out for artisans. They were well-known for renovating old buildings—especially former industrial spaces—through the early 2000s.
With a more visible profile, Corradetti has found success. The road was challenging at times, but it’s not one he
“It wasn’t easy, but no art is easy,” he says. “If it’s a path you decide to take, then it’s best to fully commit to it and go for it.”