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Alum Shares the Art and Science of Glassblowing and the Impact of ESD With Seventh Graders, Parents, and Fellow Alums

Update: March 10, 2023

Carlyn Ray Designs was the site of a parent and alum networking event held Thursday, March 9, 2023. At the event, Carlyn shared how ESD impacted and inspired her, and demonstrated the art and science of glassblowing. The beautiful piece she created was raffled off at the end of the session. 

"It was great to see so many faces at the networking event," said Alumni Director Asia Hawkins '13. "Carlyn's presentation was amazing and the conversations of everyone in attendance were lively and productive."


Posted March 3, 2023

Experiential learning was blown to a new level last week as seventh graders learned from glassblowing master Carlyn Ray ’00. At her Design District Studio, Carlyn Ray Designs, Ray shared the science, art, and spirituality she finds in creating glass. 

“Glass, to me, is a spiritual material made from sand, and it holds the light between heaven and earth,” said Ray. “ESD taught me to see the spirit in each person; I feel glass connects and brightens that light inside each person and connects us all together. ESD also taught me the value of community and community service. So I built my company around sharing creativity through fine art, through hands-on classes with the community, and then started a non-profit to share glass art and STEM with under-resourced students. This plan started with Father Swann’s question of path and purpose.”

At ESD, Ray was both an artist and an athlete. She credits Coach Mike Schneider with helping her discover volleyball, a sport she played through college on a full scholarship at William and Mary. 

Before students tried their hands at glassblowing, Ray presented glass’s past, present, and future. It is everywhere, Ray explained to the students. She believes the world has only scratched the surface of what can be done with this material. 

“With custom glass art, we are always learning and integrating technology and science into each project,” said Ray. “The innovation just in the last 150 years is astounding. Pyrex, fiber optics, cell phones, lenses, and architectural glass, to name a few. Glass will be in all of these students’ futures and in each profession they choose. So create with glass now and grow with it into the future.”

Ray said it was really special for her to host the ESD middle schoolers. She said they were surprised to learn the story behind the sculpture that hangs in the entrance to ESD’s Dining Commons, a piece Ray crafted in collaboration with middle and upper schoolers in gratitude for the school Father Swann started and Mr. Baad leads today.  

Helping with the seventh-grade workshop was ESD eighth grader Jordan, who has trained with Ray and been a glass artist herself for several years. 

“I hope that the students who joined us at my studio could see how the values that ESD instilled in me are reflected in how I set up and operate my business,” Ray concluded. “Try to live from the heart and be present with each other.”


Carlyn Ray’s studio will be the site of the upcoming parent and alumni networking event on March 9, 2023. For more information about the event, please click here