Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Tom McGlauchlin, 1934-2011: Pioneer glass artist exhibited worldwide


Tom McGlauchlin


Tom McGlauchlin, a pioneering artist in the studio glass movement whose works are exhibited around the world, died of pancreatic cancer Monday in his Old Orchard home. He was 76.

Mr. McGlauchlin's glass art resides in permanent collections in many museums, including the Toledo Museum of Art, the Portland (Ore.) Art Museum, the Corning (N.Y.) Glass Museum, the Smithsonian Collection in Washington, Kunstmuseum in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

Locally, his sculpture commissions include Clouds of Joy in the lobby of Four SeaGate downtown, A Mountain for Toledo in the lobby of SeaGate Centre downtown, A Free Verse in Color at Bowling Green State University, and A University Woman in the lobby of Carlson Library at the University of Toledo.

His four works at the Toledo Museum of Art -- "Dessin de Bulle" Vase, Prism Cut Vessel, Wide-Eyed Wink, and Vase -- are on display in the Glass Study Room of the Glass Pavilion.

"I do think he was the top glass artist in the community and one of the most well-known glass artists in this country and the world," said Jack Schmidt, a glass artist himself and longtime friend. "I think you could consider him a pioneer of the glass movement because he was one of the first. He did a lot of good work. He was very disciplined. I think he was pretty much the cream of the crop in this town and nationally. He was very well known."

Among the private collectors to own his work is pop star Elton John, who purchased four pieces from 20 North Gallery, which has represented Mr. McGlauchlin's work since 1993.

Mr. McGlauchlin began his artistic life in ceramics. His direction changed when he attended what is considered the birth of the studio glass movement in Toledo in 1962.

That's when his colleague and mentor, Harvey Littleton, a glass artist and educator at the University of Wisconsin, convened a workshop in a garage at the Toledo Museum of Art to show that glass could be blown and sculpted as art.

"Tom was around for both of the workshops in 1962 at the art museum," Mr. Schmidt said. "Glass had never been used in private studios like ceramics was. Harvey showed that you could buy a small glass furnace, fire it up yourself, and melt glass."

At the time, Mr. McGlauchlin was teaching at the University of Wisconsin, having taken over Mr. Littleton's classes so the latter could take a sabbatical and research glass as art, explained Pat McGlauchlin, Mr. McGlauchlin's wife of 49 years.

Mr. McGlauchlin came to Toledo full time in 1971 after a 10-year teaching stint at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa. He arrived in Toledo to teach glass art in a joint program of the Toledo Museum of Art and UT.

"He influenced a whole generation of glass blowers in this community," said David Guip, a professor of art at UT and former art department chairman. "He was very active. He was a major contributor to the art glass movement in this community."

In 1984, he left his teaching position and became a full-time self-employed artist with a studio first on Richards Road and then on Central Avenue in Toledo.

Mr. McGlauchlin was born on a family farm near Beloit, Wis., the youngest of Frances and Charles McGlauchlin's nine children. His father decided to leave the farm when Tom was a boy and he grew up in Beloit, where he graduated from high school.

He told an interviewer in 2006 he did not study art in high school and in his senior year took an aptitude test that indicated he should avoid an occupation that involved working with his hands.

At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he majored in engineering for two years before switching to art. He also received a master's degree in art there.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia, son, Christopher, sisters, Helen McGlauchlin and Geraldine Kearn, and brothers, Frank and Alan.

Arrangements are pending.

Contact Carl Ryan at: or 419-724-6050.

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