5 Questions with Leslie Speicher, Owner and Instructor of Chicago Glass Collective.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve owned my studio for four years and have worked with glass for 25+ years. I’ve driven to and spent time in all 48 continental United States and plan on going to Alaska and Hawaii in the next few years. I’ve lived in every region of the U.S. except the southwest and I can see myself retiring there someday. Traveling, especially by car, has given me a unique view of the country we live in and how unique and inspiring each place is. I am so glad I decided to land in Chicago for the past ten years and hope to stay for at least another ten!
When did you discover your passion?
In my 6th grade art class I started working with clay, metalsmithing in 8th grade, and photography in high school. I was really lucky to have the art programs we had in our school and my teachers were so encouraging! I began attending an art league in Indianapolis at the age of four. In my classes there, I discovered the ceramic technique of raku and loved the immediacy of the process. Being able to alter the outcome of your piece by how it interacted with fire was what really caught my attention. Once in college, I took an elective in glassblowing and that was it; I was hooked! It was a no-brainer to transition from raku to glassblowing. I’ve worked with glass in some capacity ever since.
Who inspires you? What motivates you to keep creating?
My students inspire me. I see the excitement they have when they learn something new and realize that they can make something beautiful and meaningful out of glass. Glass is a material that most people think is too hard to work with. I am motivated by their excitement and their curiosity. I have to and want to keep creating because it is such a huge part of my past and who I am now. Making things was a way for me to escape when I was younger and now I don’t know how not to make things!
Who are some of the more unique people you’ve met while teaching?
I have met so many amazing people in my 20+ years of teaching. I’ve met scientists, teachers, flight attendants, artists, stay-at-home moms, CEOs, small business owners, and an incredible variety of people from different backgrounds. I love that glass is a material that brings people together. It can be challenging and rewarding and all of my students feel a sense of empowerment when they realize they can make something beautiful. Many people think that they don’t have an artistic bone in their bodies; I like to teach that we have some kind of creativity in all of us.
What do you like to dabble in?
I like to dabble in printmaking, painting, drawing, photography, gardening, hiking, and cooking. I wish I could be a student more often!
Want to Dabble with Leslie and Chicago Glass Collective? Click here to view her current classes!