For Beth Hess, facing a 2,000-degree furnace is a normal activity.

The College Park resident frequents D.C. GlassWorks and Sculpture Studios in Hyattsville, blowing glass to create original artwork. 

“Going in there for the first time is like looking at the sun,” she said. 

Hess moved to College Park eight years ago with her husband. Three years later, she discovered the studio when she stumbled upon its booth at the Hyattsville Arts Festival. After taking a beginners’ course, Hess said, she was hooked on the art form.

“I’ve always been a crafter,” Hess said, but glassblowing gave her an extra challenge.

Hess now teaches at the studio while using the space to continue experimenting with glassblowing. She even bought prescription goggles after her own glasses began melting from the furnace, she said.

Hess experiments with combining colors and transforming the original glass. Considering all the techniques and color applications, the glassblowing process isn’t easy, she said, but she enjoys making unique items.

The glassblower also writes a blog, Wunder Around, where she shares and sells her creations and discusses her inspiration for transforming everyday objects.

“Just because it’s utilitarian does not mean it has to be boring,” she said.  

Hess has made several creations, such as glass caterpillars and paperweights, and she laughs about her amateurish first products.

While she does plenty of experimenting and is becoming skilled in glassblowing, Hess said it continues to surprise her every time she makes something new.

“In some ways, I’m letting the glass do what it wants,” she said.  

Editor's note: College Park Contours is a new weekly series spotlighting interesting members of the community. Know someone we should profile? Email suggestions to newsumdbk@gmail.com.