Jim Kahle: Turning Fire Into Ice

Jim Kahle: Turning Fire Into Ice

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Artists use many mediums to express themselves. Master glassblower Jim Kahle uses flaming ovens and molten glass to create his distinctive works of art.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Kahle’s love of glass began at an early age. A glass chalice created for a Catholic church captivated the young boy. Crafted by Dominick Labino, credited as the father of the studio glass movement, Kahle was invited to the glass artist’s studio to observe the master at work. "From that moment on, I’d look at a piece of glass and think, ‘how did they make that?'," commented Kahle.

Although his fascination with glass was kindled that day, as an adult Kahle began working in more traditional jobs. He tried a number of careers; earned an Associate’s Degree in public service; fixed furniture; he even worked in an ice cream store, but nothing seemed to fulfill him. In his mid-30s and still intrigued by glass, Kahle enrolled in a glassblowing class - after one session he knew he had found his true calling.

Today Kahle is best-known for creating large open vessels using vibrant colors in unique shapes. His works have been shown in solo exhibits in over 100 galleries in the United States and around the world.

"Glassblowing is not for the faint of heart. It is physical, hot and dangerous work. The furnaces reach temperatures of over 2,000 degrees. What Jim produces from these furnaces are one-of-a-kind works of art," commented Julie Davis, ThinkTV producer/director. "He spends hours in the studio creating vessels of all shapes and sizes and experimenting with new ideas."

"When Jim is not working in the studio his many apprentices are. He provides a place for young artists to learn about glassblowing and encourages them to continue creating art from glass," continued Davis. "In 1997, he started “The Hot Glass Experience,” an outreach program for high school students in rural Ohio. Almost all of the students who visit his studio experience the art of glassblowing for the first time."