I never had an early interest in glass in particular but always had an interest in creativity. Sometimes, I’m not too sure where it’s going; but for me, it’s all about being able to make what I want, when I want, and keep it moving until I can no longer do so. I took the scenic route on the way to working with glass. I was always interested in the visual arts and music, and in 1976, I started my education at Kent State University with a major in painting. During this time, I had a weekend job as a groundskeeper at Hale Farm, an early American historical village just outside of Kent, Ohio. It was there that I was literally thrown into glassblowing.
Hale Farm has a small glass shop along with other craft areas for visitors to walk around and ponder. One afternoon, the head gaffer at the glass shop walked off the job after getting into a tiff with the grounds manager. The manager looked at me and said, “Hunting, get over to the glass studio and give the guy a hand.” The next thing I knew, I was gathering hot, molten glass out of a replica of a historic furnace.
When the next semester started at KSU, I found out from a friend that the college actually had a glass-arts program. It was there that I took my first steps into being educated in glass art. Henry Halem ran the program on a very tight budget at that point in time, and I must say dealt up the best education a young guy could imagine.
Henry was good friends with most of the well-known glass artists, and he brought in many of them for workshops. Between 1977 and 1979, I attended workshops and worked with the likes of Fritz Dreisbach, Dick Marquis, Steve Weinberg, Bert van Loo, Marvin Lipofsky, Dale Chihuly (with William Morris as gaffer), Joel Myers, and the late Bud Hurlstone.
In 1980 I went to the Penland School of Crafts on an assistant scholarship with Rick Bernstein and ended up working for Richard Ritter as a full-time assistant for around six months. He taught me about making glass color and millefiori.
In February of 1981, I traveled to Italy for two months to experience the Italian glass scene. My main stops were in Venice and Murano. When I returned, I moved to Chicago. It was there that I opened Hunting Studio Glass in the summer of 1982.
The birth of my son, Wesley Justin, in 1987 gave my life new purpose. I left the big city for a more peaceful setting and bought a nice piece of property in central Wisconsin just outside of Princeton where I work with my son, Wesley, as a team. We are always striving to take the work to a new level of intensity. It has developed into a way for me to express myself by painting with molten glass. There is no other material like glass. The colors are totally unique as they can be transparent or opalescent. The way light passes through colored glasses adds a third dimension that cannot be duplicated by any other material.