Donald Carlson

In glass-blowing, red is the most difficult color to make. If the glass gets too hot as the color is added, it can turn brownish-yellow. Red, however, is the color at which glass artist Donald Carlson excels. “Most of the colors, you can make easily, but with red, there are a million variables such as time, temperature and how you work the glass,” says the 62-year-old. “I’ve devoted my whole career to making simple, elegant shapes in red.”

In 1966, Carlson was working toward his M.B.A at San Francisco State University. To fulfill a requirement, he took an art class, and the teacher suggested the students build a glass studio and learn to blow glass. As a result, Carlson’s career path took a different direction, and in addition to his M.B.A, he also received an M.F.A.

Eight years ago, Carlson moved from the Bay Area to eight uncrowded acres in Siletz, Ore., where he built an 1,800-square-foot glass studio. “We’re right on the Siletz River with lots of privacy and old-growth spruce trees,” he says. “It’s just a beautiful piece of land to live and work on.”

This bowl, from his Asian Fusion Series, combines his interest in Siletz Indian baskets, design and the color red. To make the vessel, Carlson fused three layers of glass: an interior layer of blue lustre, an exterior layer of red with silver designs melted into the glass, and a middle layer of white to enhance the red. Carlson’s wife and assistant, Karen, blows the 10-inch bowl’s glass base. 

“Glass-blowing is a great process,” Carlson says. “I like working with my hands and being able to make something beautiful.” Carlson’s bowls range from $180 to $500, depending on their size and style. This one is available for $425.

   Contact glass artist Donald Carlson via his website, More of his glass art is available at The Real Mother Goose (901 S.W. Yamhill; 503-223-9510) in downtown Portland.