Joel Bless first began working with hot glass at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the early 1970s in the School of American Craftsmen’s newly opened glassblowing program. Having been interested in lighting from an early age, he found it natural to incorporate glassblowing and light. By 1977, he had built his own hot shop and was producing vases and lamps, which he sold through craft shows around the country.
In 1985, together with his wife Candace Luke-Bless, he set up a larger glassblowing studio and showroom, and began training other artists.
During the late 1980s, Joel explored a unique technique of vertical casting he eventually used for Menorahs, Shabbat Candlesticks, and Seder Plates reflecting different aspects of Jewish faith. He uses the same technique for other candlestick designs, as well as vases. "Creative processes build on each other," he says, "fostering the evolution of new ideas and techniques."
In 1993, Joel began combining glass blowing and dripping to create freeform spun bowls. These led in 1995 to the graceful Two-Lip Vases, Ribbon bowls, Splash Bowls, and Ring Bowls, all constructed using cast glass with spinning and off-hand techniques.
Joel currently makes a wide range of hand-made glass lighting products in a variety of styles and is always working to develop new techniques for creating functional art.