Hand Blown Glass Artist Finds Value In Mistakes

“If you don’t fail, you don’t succeed,” says hand blown glass artist Cathi Milligan. Her work creating beautiful glass pieces has taught her a lot about learning from mistakes and getting better every day.

Video Transcript

Cathi Milligan: I feel the need to make things. Some of it is that I need to keep my hands busy. I need to keep my mind busy. Part of it also is that I actually do make cool stuff.

Narrator: Cathi is a glassblower. She sticks a metal tube into a blistering kiln and forms molten into glass into art. The end result can be beautiful, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. For Cathi, that’s okay.

Glass Blowing. LA.

Cathi: Ooh, that’s the stuff I just put in there. See it’s not quite hot enough yet. Isn’t that rad? It’s not hot enough yet. It’s probably only 1900 degrees. Got to be a bubble, I think there’s a bubble coming. There’s the bubble. There it is. Tada! So, now I’m going to go get some more glass.

Oh no! See this is what happens when it’s too thin. You can’t seek perfection. It’s frustrating but if you don’t fail, you don’t succeed. How sad. You’ve got to screw something up to find out how far you can push something. I tell people all the time, like, just like go with it and screw it up so you know. Burn it, so you know how far you can take it in the flame, how much you can push it before it’s going to turn to gray, black, whatever.

Do I want every piece I make to turn out? Of course, you know, I mean there’s, especially like if I’m doing a roll-up or something, I’ve painted, I’ve fired and so when it ends up breaking in the glory hole or just collapsing because one part’s too thin, it’s heartbreaking. But for every one that I screw up, I generally have four or five that turn out, maybe leaning a little bit, but they’re still pretty cool and they sell. And they feed my soul.

Narrator: For Cathi, it’s not about the perfect piece of glass. There’s no right way of being happy with your work. It’s a journey, one for each of us to take ourselves.

Cathi: The reason I got into making glass was that I wanted to be able to make what I wanted, and I know that when I make something in glass, it’s not necessarily going to be like everybody else’s piece. When I teach somebody, I teach people techniques and how to do something. I want to be able to show you how to find your own voice.

Live bold. [Church bells]

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