When John Leighton first tried his hand at glass blowing in the early 1970s, it was the hardest thing he'd ever done. "Glass blowing requires motor skills and hand-eye coordination like no other activity. And you have to be relaxed with 2,000-degree molten liquid on the end of a blowpipe," he says. "It did not come naturally to me."
Last winter, Leighton received an honorary award from the Bay Area Glass Institute in recognition of his 23 years as head of the SFSU glass program. He continues to teach, he says, because of "the incredible energy students give me."
Leighton enjoys the collaboration behind his craft. "There's a high that you get from two or three people being completely focused on one result. You've got six hands turning the same blowpipe, and a few hours later the piece comes out great," he says. "I'm always reminding my students that it's easier if you let someone help you."
Offered through the College of Extended Learning, the glass program may be one of SFSU's better-kept secrets, but there's no lack of interest, or enthusiasm. Says Patty Garrett (M.A., Ceramics, '78), one of Leighton's 54 students: "This program is wonderful, and it is what it is because of [Leighton's] efforts."