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Glassblowing with Maria Enomoto
Maria Enomoto is a glass artist based in San Francisco. Her studio practice involves an intuitive exploration of glass-making techniques that can lead to unconventional use of form, color, and texture. Her making process often leads to quirky objects inspired by a great curiosity for the everyday.
Tell us who you are.
My name is Maria Enomoto, and I am a glass artist.
What does home mean to you?
Home is a place of comfort, familiarity, and security; a space that gives me a sense of belonging. For me, I've always associated home with wherever my family was, rather than seeing my home as being rooted in a physical location. I moved a lot growing up, so I never had one house to call home. Because of this, I think it made me an adaptable and flexible adult. Now that I'm married, I have the same sentiment about home - as long as I'm with my husband, the location doesn't matter.
How do you rest, restore, and reenergize?
I value my faith, so I enjoy spending time in the mornings reading scripture, which restores my mind and spirit. I'm introverted, so I find that if I don't have any time in solitude, I don't feel refreshed or calm during the day. I think that if 'quiet' has a presence, I can see it best in the morning, which is my favorite time of day! I especially love the colors and light in the morning. As the quality of light shifts as the sun rises slowly, I feel my mind and body can be one with its speed, and I find that to be restorative and calming - I never want it to end! I also enjoy riding my bike! San Francisco is great for all of the mountains and hills nearby, so when I get good sleep and the legs feel strong, I love climbing the hills and tracking my progress. I only got into cycling seriously since the pandemic, but I have found that the more fit I am on the bike, the stronger I feel blowing glass. Everything is connected, and I love that!
What inspires you to create?
I love colors! When I want to make something, I usually start with an inspiring color combination that I encountered during the day or an object that made me curious. I also enjoy allowing the process of making glass to guide my next project. Often, I will make an object one way that will inspire me to create it in another way. I see my creations as one huge line of playful free associations, where one thing leads to another. This gives me a sense of progress and makes me excited to make the next thing. I enjoy the act of making glass, but if I limited myself to producing a few designs, I wouldn't feel very inspired.. or as joyful. I think play is a large component to my art practice.
How did you become the artist you are today?
I knew from a very early age that I was good at art, but as I grew older I started to realize that I didn't excel at anything else! Because of this limitation, I focused all of my energy in painting and drawing growing up, which led me to the Rhode Island School of Design where I got a BFA in glass and continued to work with the material non-stop until today. Aside from my own creative drive, I acknowledge that without my supportive family/husband/friends/bosses, and community support from Public Glass where I make all of my work, I could not have become the artist that I am today. As I get older, I realize how instrumental community support has been to my success. Blowing glass is usually done with a partner or multiple partners, so even the act of working with the material is an incredibly communal process. I work really hard, and I also know that I'm blessed to work with hardworking, supportive people.
What do you struggle most with glassblowing?
Glassblowing is an incredibly technical craft and an expensive discipline. The fail rate is high, so it's difficult emotionally and on the wallet when things break or don't turn out as intended. However, as I'm working with the material, I have to keep calm and not let my frustration or negative emotions translate into the glass, because as I always say, "the glass knows". The more frustrated and negative I get while glassblowing, the more things break! The best glassblowing sessions are when the mind, body, and spirit feel strong, but that's not always the case. It takes a lot of resilience and mental determination to keep going when there's a streak of failure and a dip in confidence. Apart from the mental strain glassblowing can have on the body, it gets super hot and is very physically demanding! I get a lot of muscle soreness and fatigue if I blow glass too much.
What advice can you give to artists who are trying to find their voice?
I think one way that an artist's voice is developed is through making a lot of things. I used to get really bogged down by the idea of making everything as a fully realized and conceptually sound piece of work.. which led to lots of thinking, but lacking in making. I don't necessarily think that quantity trumps quality, but when you're trying to identify your voice, focusing on increasing your rate of success and failure will help shape what you like, don't like, and how to move forward. There's value in having made a lot of objects or having participated in a multitude of projects to be able to easily pinpoint your voice. "Your voice" is only an extension of what you produce; the more you produce, the more opportunities you give yourself to find it.