Pumpkins and Paperweights

Paly junior Anna Thieman uses Paly’s Fiery Arts program to create intricate glass designs


Paly students’ glass art


Honey-like molten glass slowly shapes into a paperweight as junior Anna Thieman blows through a metal tube. Throughout the piece, tiny specks of yellow and green glisten against the red of the glass. Around Thieman, other students work on their own pieces, sculpting clay and making beads.

Thieman began glassblowing as a part of the Fiery Arts program at Paly. She has made intricate paperweights and pumpkins in her ceramics class, but she also paints and draws outside of the classroom.

In her freshman year, Thieman discovered her love of ceramics while taking Paly’s Art Spectrum class, which offered Thieman a variety of different projects. Thieman found that she enjoyed 3D art the most.

“[Ceramics] projects were way more fun to me than simply drawing or painting,” Thieman said. “It seemed like I had a knack for 3D art.”

Other students in her class encouraged Thieman to continue her passion, so in her sophomore year, Thieman joined Paly’s ceramics class. It was there that Thieman discovered she had a talent for the fiery arts.

Paly has definitely impacted my art. It has introduced me to a whole new medium that I never would have experienced otherwise.

— Anna Thieman, junior

“I really did not know anything about glass blowing when I signed up,” Thieman said. “I sort of thought I’d stick to working with clay, but once I started making glass sculptures, I was hooked.”

Unlike many artists who have a creative process, Thieman likes to make decisions about her pieces at the moment, using a variety of techniques.

“I really like experimenting with colors and textures,” Thieman said. “There are dozens of opaque and translucent colors that I can use to make pretty glass pieces.”

Although Thieman would like to continue her art in college, she has no intention of majoring in fine arts.

“There aren’t many colleges with glass blowing programs, so I’m trying to make the most of my experience here,” Thieman said.

Paly is one of the only high schools in the nation to offer a glassblowing program, and many students who have taken advantage of this opportunity have really enjoyed it.

It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, if you’re interested [in glassblowing], why not [try it]?

— Anna Thieman, junior

“Paly has definitely impacted my art,” Thieman said. “It has introduced me to a whole new medium that I never would have experienced otherwise.”

The school has given so many students, like Thieman, the opportunity to discover new passions.  However, many students throughout California and nationwide are not given the same support. Thieman believes other students should have this opportunity as well but acknowledges that most schools may not be able to offer such programs.

“It would be great if other schools could offer glassblowing, but it’s an extremely expensive program that pretty much all other high schools cannot afford,” Thieman said “We are really lucky that we are able to run this program.”

As for whether other Paly students should take glassblowing, Thieman believes that as long as they don’t mind the heat and are interested in learning something new, students should take advantage of this opportunity.

“It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Thieman said. “So, if you’re interested [in glassblowing], why not [try it]?”