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Glassblowing as a career – Jenni Sorsa's journey

#jennisorsaglass #finnishglass

Artist presentation: Jenni Sorsa

Master Glassblower / Bachelor of Arts and Design

Jenni working in Lasikomppania’s hot shop at Nuutajärvi.

Jenni Sorsa graduated from the Häme University of Applied Sciences in 2007 as a designer, majoring in glass. After her studies, Jenni headed to Nuutajärvi to complete her glass artisan qualification and then to Sweden to a glass school in Orrefors, where she jumped straight into the second year thanks to her previous experience.

Jenni's career in glass includes all of the following qualifications: Bachelor of Arts and Design, arteísan, glassblower, art glassblower, glassblower apprentice, and most recently, the professional qualification of Master Glassblower.

In early 2014, Jenni founded Jenni Sorsa Glass, a company that provides glass blowing and expert services to other designers and artists. Jenni also organises glassblowing experiences, where the client gets to blow a glass object with Jenni. Sorsa also blows her own art glass and limited productions.

Jenni in her workshop in Nuutajärvi.

Mikä on saanut Jennin alun perin kiinnostumaan lasista?

Jenni kertoo olleensa aina luova ja nuorena piirsi ja maalasi paljon, harrasti tanssia, soitti harmonikkaa ja lauloi kuorossa. Käsityöt kiinnostivat, mutta erityisesti kovien materiaalien, kuten puun ja metallin työstö kiinnostivat enemmän.

What got Jenni interested in glass in the first place?

Jenni says that she has always been creative and, as a young girl, she drew and painted a lot, danced, played the accordion and sang in a choir. She was interested in crafts, but especially in working with hard materials such as wood and metal.

Initially, Jenni went to study physical theatre and circus, but in the background she had a dream of becoming a designer. She came across the glass design course at the Häme University of Applied Sciences, where she decided to apply and was accepted to study. The training included an introduction to glassblowing, which ignited the spark instantly. A kind of danger fascinated her with hot glass and Jenni herself considers glassblowing to be an extreme sport, like the pair acrobatics she studied earlier.

During her studies, Jenni applied for a glassblowing exchange at the European Center for Research and Training in Glass Art in France. The school had a very varied curriculum, for example, with a large number of guest teachers.

Jenni felt that she had found a way of expressing herself that combined all of her creative sides. "As a glassblower, you are also a performing artist, dancer and musician in a way, but you get to use the colour palette of a visual artist and the eye of a designer and the hands of a craftsman", Jenni comments.

An extract from Jenni's description of her own work:

"For me, glassblowing is about self-fulfilment and constant challenges. Glass is a material from which you can always learn something new, and, as a blower, you are never finished. It feels especially rewarding when you've won yourself in front of the glass. I enjoy the hectic atmosphere and heat of the hot shop. I am a passionate dancer and I experience the thrill of success when everything in a working group runs as if according to a ready-made choreography. Everyone in the group knows their tasks, the steps towards a finished presentation. Rhythm is also an essential part of glassblowing, because glass does not wait or give up. I draw inspiration from childhood toys, circus art and, sometimes, Space Age aesthetics."

PLOP FICTION STORIES 2012-2016 series piece Plops on the Edge

What have been the easiest and hardest things for Jenni to learn about glass and design?

Jenni says that she has a rather hectic nature and the glass has taught her patience. Perseverance and patience require her to work hard every day. Glass is a difficult material to work with when hot, but after a certain point, the difficulty in working with the material moves to its breakability as the glass cools. As with everything, there are both good days and bad days in the hot shop and in cool work.

"Technically, the most difficult thing is to make two pieces of identical shape and size without a mould, i.e. free-blowing. I also have to learn to be a bit more forgiving of myself and sometimes accept mistakes as part of the craft."

The importance of a similar shape is emphasised in the pieces of the Pallot (“Balls”) series.

What Jenni hopes to learn and try during her career?

Italian-style goblet making techniques are very challenging. To get good at making goblets, you need to practice every day. Jenni hopes to have the opportunity to make more goblets for her own pleasure, as all of the goblets she made as a student were destroyed when a shelf collapsed.

According to Sorsa, goblet makers are valued in the glassblowing profession because the work requires an incredible amount of precision, pressure tolerance and the ability to handle thinly blown glass.

She has many role models within glassblowing:

Among female glassblowers, the Americans Nancy Callan and Claire Kelly stand out, along with schoolmates from Sweden: Hanna Hansdotter from Sweden and Julie Shirani Kausland from Norway. among male glassblowers, Jenni names Jason Cristian and Dan Friday from the Chihuly team, and a new acquaintance, Cedric Mitchell.

Ned Cantrell and Karen Nyholm were her mentors in Denmark when Jenni spent four months with them as an assistant in 2009. She also had the opportunity to work with the Chihuly team for several years and at Chicago Hot Glass during her internship.

Cantrell is coming to the Lasikomppania for a residency and Jenni says that she is looking forward to working with him after many years.

Also at home, in the same hot shop, are important teachers and mentors for Jenni, Alma Jantunen and Johannes Rantasalo. Jenni says that these two have played an important role in her career development and she often turns to them for support or advice. Jenni feels that working with a wide range of different professionals has been very useful for her.

What are Jenni's biggest dreams for glass and design?

"My biggest dream is to one day take up a residency at the Corning Museum of Glass."

She considers it to be a very prestigious place, and for good reason. Year after year, the most skilled blowers gather in Corning, USA, to give demos, and the exhibits and museum spaces are renowned for their scope and contain significant historical artefacts.

Check out Jenni's website Jenni Sorsa Glass

and follow Jenni on her Instagram @jenni.sorsa


The Arts Promotion Center Finland (Taike) supports Lasikomppania with its communication activities. Stay tuned for future blog posts from Lasikomppania, where we will be able to get to know all the individual artists, their news and their working methods. Subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the page to receive new blog posts and other news from Lasikomppania!

You can also follow Lasikomppania on Instagram and Facebook, where you can see more visual content about the everyday activities of the hot shop.

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