Home Culture A Trip to GlassRoots in Newark, a Non-Profit Glass Art Studio

A Trip to GlassRoots in Newark, a Non-Profit Glass Art Studio

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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Taking up a new hobby is something that can be fun and exciting. GlassRoots Newark Glass Art Center, located at 10 Bleeker Street, has been giving locals the opportunity to learn new skills in the glass-making world for over two decades. The Montclair Girl recently had a chance to explore the space, chat with members of the GlassRoots Team, and take a stained glass suncatcher class. We chatted with Executive Director Carol Losos and Director of Programs Michelle Knox to learn more about the organization, its work, and the programming provided here. Read on to learn more about GlassRoots in Newark and how to get involved.

The Organization

GlassRoots Newark Glass Art Center was established in 2000 by Pat Kettenring and is located at 10 Bleeker Street in Newark. At the time, Pat was a business school professor at Rutgers University by day with a love for her hobby of glass collecting. After a visit to an arts education center in Tacoma, Washington, Pat thought, “We can do this in Newark!”

The Ivy at Chatham

Executive Director Carol Losos credits the early success and growth of GlassRoots to Pat. “Our founder recognized a need for accessible, high-quality arts education for the youth of Newark and sensed that glass blowing, and the glass arts, could uniquely demonstrate crucial life and career skills to our young people. With that vision in mind, in 2000, we started as a table and two torches making beads at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark after-school program. A couple of years later, we convinced our landlord to rent us our current space.”

Despite humble beginnings, GlassRoots now serves over 5,000 individuals annually, shared Carol. “Some of those participants come here for date night or a school field trip or spend 12 weeks with us during the summer practicing their craft. Others come for our team-building activities or commission us to make handmade glass awards for a special event,” she continued.

Read More: A Look Into the Historic Ballantine House in Newark + Its Recent Restoration

All paid adult classes allow GlassRoots to provide students in Newark with opportunities to enjoy programming at no cost. “In tandem with this growth, we’ve stayed true to our mission: when you take a class, order an award, or enjoy any glassmaking experience at GlassRoots, you’re ensuring that a young person here in Newark will also enjoy that same experience at no cost,” she shared.

Taking a Class

GlassRoots has various programming offerings for children and adults. “We offer all types of classes for both youth and adults. Our experiences range from 30-minute “mini maker” sessions to six-week long-term learning workshops for adults,” Director of Programs Michelle Knox shared. Each class provides a unique opportunity to learn a new skill in a small, hands-on classroom.

The instructors are highly skilled and are sure to make safety and fun the top priorities. “Guests can expect to learn new art-making skills and techniques while meeting new people in a fun, creative, and safe environment. Each class focuses on making unique one-of-a-kind art pieces through small hands-on classes with our Teaching Artists guiding students through all the necessary safety processes while staying on task,” Michelle shared. Guests can also book studio space to work on individual projects. This is a flexible option for those who have become more advanced in their skills as there will be minimal staff supervision and guidance. Students are required to pass a basic safety test and the space can be booked at an hourly rate.


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We checked out the stained glass suncatcher class and had a great time. The instructors were hands-on while still allowing us to learn the process and try the techniques. The class was full with about ten students and three instructors, which made asking questions and connecting with others in the class very easy. At the end of the four-hour course, each student left with their floral suncatcher.

Youth Programs

GlassRoots provides free programming for the youth of Newark. Pat noticed that learning the intricacies of glass art provides important life lessons like patience, collaboration, and critical thinking. Youth programs incorporate a variety of glass-making mediums like stained glass, glass blowing, mosaics, etching, and fusing, to name a few.

“For youth, we offer week-long glassmaking intensives for teens, our signature YES program for aspiring creative entrepreneurs, PRISM: our LGBTQ+ art-making collective, and NexGen: Glassblowing Apprentice Program for young adults who want a deeper dive into the ancient art of blowing glass. We’ve also cultivated several school-related partnerships, including weekly after-school sessions, semester-long residencies, and field trips,” Michelle shared.

Glass art programs are available for children ages 10 and older. Youth programming is completely free thanks to the generosity of donors and paid class attendees. Parents, guardians, caretakers, and educators can learn more about program qualifications and can sign students up here.  

See More: Inside Hoboken’s Oldest Glass Company on Clinton Street

Supporting GlassRoots

GlassRoots is a non-profit organization that runs on the support of generous donors. Its ‘Buy One, Give One,’ method of giving the gift of glass art to students with the purchase of each adult class allows for countless hours of programming. There are many ways to support the efforts of GlassRoots. “We’re a nonprofit so we welcome support of all of our programs: that includes the GlassBall on June 5th, our biggest fundraiser of the year; ordering a bespoke commission work or when you attend classes for adults also helps us,” Michelle shared.

Thanks to the impact of GlassRoots and the positive effect it has had on the community, the organization is headed to a new, larger space in 2025. GlassRoots will remain in Downtown Newark but will be in a space that is double its current size. Michelle continued, “We are currently planning to move into a space that will be twice our size and double our reach. We’ll remain in downtown Newark in the Arts and Education District because being an arts anchor is core to who we are.

Glass art takes time and skill but is a rewarding hobby. GlassRoots is bringing this art form to thousands each year and changing the lives of people along the way. To learn more about the organization, to support and sign up for a class, click here.

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