Glass Artist, Karen Robbins had early training and experiences creating and appreciating art. From ceramics, to drawing and painting, she always had an interest working with her hands and playing with color. Karen began her college education in 1984 at the University of Massachusetts in the Fine Arts and Theatre Department. Although she enjoyed the classes, the winters in western Massachusetts proved to be too cold. In 1986, Karen decided to transfer to the University of California. This change in schools prompted a shift in her career direction. Because California was a better place to work in the film industry, Karen changed her major from Theater Arts to Film Production. After earning a BA degree 1988, she spent the next several years in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area working in the film industry.
Although Karen had worked with many art forms, being a glass artist was not in her repertoire of art skills. She had no experience working with hot glass until she met Dana at San Jose State University in 1990. He was demonstrating glass blowing at an art department open studio. Karen was immediately intrigued by this incredible art form. Before she knew it, she was capturing the students on video working with the molten glass. Soon after, the instructor at SJSU asked Karen to videotape all the demonstrations at the Glass Art Society annual conference in June of 1994.
As her interest with glass continued, Karen decided she wanted to learn how to blow glass. In the summer of 1995, right before she and Dana were married, Karen had an opportunity to go to the Pilchuck Glass School. It was here for the first time, she picked up a blowpipe and tried to work with hot glass. A six week experience at Pilchuck was so influential, it motivated a career change from producing videos to creating blown glass art. Her trip to Pilchuck also inspired a life changing decision. A physical move from living in an apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area to living on a cattle ranch in rural New Mexico.
It has been over 20 years of working together with hot glass, and Dana has trained Karen to be a valuable blowing partner. She does the majority of the design, shape and color selection, and assists Dana in blowing the glass. He is responsible for the skilled execution of each piece, and does all labor intensive polishing and finish work. In addition to working in the hotshop, Karen takes care of all the marketing, customer service, inventory control and business management. In return, Dana handles of all the technical needs of their shop, keeping the equipment running properly. Lots of hard work and a team effort have made their business a very successful partnership.