In a collaboration designed by multidisciplinary artist Solange Knowles and produced by glassblower Jason McDonald, Saint Heron’s Small Matter Art Objects: Glassware 001 materializes the palpable transformation of sand and fire into unique glass objects. The collection’s intention is to inspire communal connection through gatherings, while deepening artistic interest in the sprightly contributions of Blackness to design, objects, and architectural glassblowing. Encompassing light, color, movement and form, the functional glass items are meditative propagations of creative design intended to express Small Matter’s design language in a line of signature objects for home. Saint Heron’s design studio and gallery, Small Matter, explores sculptural and architectural vigor within a range of signature works for commerce. Small Matter’s design language represents Saint Heron’s uninhibited innovation and ethos through small-scale functional sculptures, architectural objects and design collections. The collection crystallizes Saint Heron’s composed response to our own meticulous interrogations — of space, of community, of self — as aesthetic-forward incarnations of traditional, experimental and intuition-led processes in small-scale object creation.


Propelled by Saint Heron’s own musings on the voices and futures objects contain, the five-item handblown glassware line demonstrates the synthesis and tension of sentiment and physicality in our environments. Each piece transmutes aesthetically sensitive-yet-bold sculptural qualities and geometric motifs into visual statements that foster natural interpretation, perception and engagement. To sit with and hold their form, weight, beauty and force is to witness dynamic stillness in uniquely varied textures, silhouettes, color palettes, and transparency and opacity ranges.

For Small Matter’s debut glass collection, we spoke with collaborator Jason McDonald about the collection’s conception, his process and ideas of beauty, and the significance of material.



Saint Heron: For those who may not be familiar with your work, can you talk a little about who you are and what you do and how long you’ve been glassblowing?

Jason McDonald: My name is Jason McDonald and I’m a glassblower. I started when I was 14 through Hilltop Artists, a children’s program in Tacoma, Washington. Through that I got exposure to the art of glassmaking.

SH:What is it about the properties of glass that attracted you to the art and practice of creating in this discipline?

JM: It’s hot, and it’s dangerous, and it’s immediate. You see results right away and I like the immediacy of it. It also requires 100% focus. So if you get distracted for even a second, things go sideways. It’s one of the few things in my life that keep me focused all the time.

SH: In what ways does the practice challenge you and/or comfort you? Does your work in this discipline bring you peace? How?

JM:I find glassblowing infinitely challenging. There’s no end game. You never get to the last bus, you just keep getting better. That’s one thing I like about it, no matter how far I get, there’s always a place to go with it.

SH: Can you talk a bit about palette and pattern selection? Is that more intuitive/decided in the moment or do you ultimately have a vision of exactly what you’re striving to produce visually?

JM: I think of myself as a pattern maker as well as a cup maker. The palette I use is primarily black and white but I like a lot of really high-contrast colors. One of the great things about glass is that it’s completely transparent and that’s one of the qualities of the material that really draws  me to it. So I try not to muddy the waters too much with a bunch of color. When I do use color, I like to have a good reason for it.

SH: What’s your idea of beauty and in what ways do you incorporate or find beauty in your completed glass objects?

JM: All angles or all curves. When I look at a piece, I’m looking at the silhouette and if there are no interruptions in the form, I think that’s a beautiful form.

SH: Would you say that the intention of your work is more spiritual, personal or interpersonal/communal? Can you explain?

JM: For me, this work is really personal. It’s all about me and the material, and one thing I love about it is that it’s a moment frozen in time. It’s a snapshot that records exactly where you’re at on any given day. There’s no hiding in the glass, cuz it freezes whatever steps you took to get to the results. So I would say it’s a dance between me and the glass.


SH: Glass isn’t the easiest practice to thrive in and the level of skill and even knowledge required to determine scale, working/cooling temperatures, time, etc., seems like something you’d have to fail at or retry again and again. Can you talk a bit about patience and any challenges/inner conflicts you overcame as you sharpened your technique and skill in glass?

JM: There are no shortcuts in glassblowing. You begin with no skill, and then over the course of time you level up and get better. When you’re working with glass, you have to get really comfortable with failure. Things don’t always go your way and the material constantly surprises you. It’s not an easy thing. In fact, that’s something I say a lot when I’m in the shop. If it was easy, I would've been bored a long time ago. That being said, it’s taught me a lot about perseverance and pushing through to get the results I want.

SH: Is there anything specific you’ve learned from the art of glassblowing that sticks with you in other areas of life?

JM: Yeah. My base takeaway from being a glassblower is learning how to practice. I would say that I did not know how to practice as a kid. But as I grew up and started getting into glassblowing, I realized the focus and intensity that it takes. 

SH: How do you balance the dueling demands of craft and career as a Black person in this particular industry?

JM: In the glass world, there are very few brothers and sisters. You often walk into a room and you don’t see anybody that looks like you and that can be intimidating. But for me, I see my mission as not just being a good glassblower, but diversifying the field as well. I see myself as an interrupter, a disruptor; I want to wedge my foot in the door [and] open it so that people can come in behind me.

SH: Do you ever feel disconnected from your practice? If so, how do you resolve that to a point of return?

JM: There’s so much in glassblowing. You don’t get tired of it, or at least I haven't yet. You can be a master at one specific technique and a novice at another. There’s always room for growth. So whenever I’m feeling stalled or frustrated, I just shift my focus to another aspect and things get interesting again. 

SH: Saint Heron believes in and muses on the life of objects, especially as it relates to material and kinetic energy that encompass their respective creation, separate from our narratives/intentions as their makers. In your own words, what does the life of the glassware in Saint Heron’s collection mean, convey or express?

JM: I think about glass as a “forever material.” It’ll last 10,000 years if some cat doesn’t knock it off a shelf. I think that’s a really interesting aspect of it; thinking about the work that I make, having a life beyond when it leaves the studio. It’s really inspiring to know that these are gonna go and live in people’s homes, that they’re going to become cherished objects that are used daily.