Glass Artist in 2017's Gifts of Art


Heather Hepp was 32 years old when she took a glassblowing class and, in her words, “became an instant devotee.” She had moved with her young family to Boise, Idaho, and had been informally studying various trades to find one that suited her. In 2000, she found glassblowing and earned an apprenticeship at Zion Mountain Art Glass with Zion Warne by learning to weld and helping to build hot shop equipment. After several years, she had enough skills to get a job at Boise Art Glass working for Filip Vogelpohl and teaching classes. Heather, 49, lives in Tuscaloosa.

Has art always been a part of your life?
No, not as a participant on a regular basis until I was an adult.
What does this specific medium require from you? In turn, what do you get out of it?
There’s a long list of equipment and tools necessary, fuel and electricity. Also a high level of muscle memory and something I’ll call heat memory. But more than anything else glassblowing requires focus, dedication and calm, quick thinking under intense conditions. In return, I get to watch my skills develop which allows me to attempt more difficult challenges and expand my work. Reaching a new skill goal, besides being very satisfying, always opens doors which were previously inaccessible. That’s a big thrill for me.
What types of pieces do you make? Are there guidelines you follow as you work on different types of pieces?
I make a wide variety of things – from functional to purely decorative. When I begin a piece I have a very clear plan in mind from start to finish. Occasionally, things don’t go as planned. In that case, I have to decide whether to try to turn it into something else useful or call it an experiment and try something completely new. Mistakes, though initially disappointing, are an opportunity to learn.
What inspires you? Does inspiration always come before you start on a piece, or do you develop new ideas as you work?
Inspiration can come from many places; nature, art, friends, often from a “happy accident” that sparks a new line of thought.
Describe your studio and what conditions you prefer for glassblowing.
I’m fortunate to have my studio at my home. It’s a small shop where I work alone. Working alone can be challenging, but the rewards are extremely satisfying. I almost always have music playing – the type varies.
Where do you show and sell your work?
I currently sell my work at the Farmers’ Market at the River Market and the Kentuck Gallery in Tuscaloosa and Charlie Thigpen Gallery in Birmingham, various art fairs in Alabama and on littlesandyglass.com.