Prairie Fire Glass

In the small town of Monticello, you’ll find one of the finest glassblowers this side of the Mississippi. Heck, on either side of the Mississippi.

in Arts & Culture, Illinois Makers
November 01, 2017

| words

A calling set ablaze after years of working with stained glass when Jim found what he calls his true “bliss” as he stood before the flames, blowpipe in hand.

The centuries-old art of glassblowing dates back to the 1st century B.C., but at Prairie Fire Glass the past meets the present inside Jim’s studio — a working hot shop complete with roaring furnaces.

Here you can watch the age-old trade and craft right before your eyes as Jim transforms molten glass into masterful works of art — heating, rolling, twirling and of course, blowing. Jim masterfully works the glowing, molten masses at temperatures above 1,500° F. It’s craftsmanship meets fiery performance art with mesmerizing results. The finished pieces — always one-of-a kind, never to be blown or sculpted in the exact same way again. Such is the art of glassblowing. Jim’s art.

Throughout Jim’s gallery are colorful works that attest to his passion for his craft. His creations include vibrant yet purposeful pieces such as vases, bowls, jewelry and ornaments. Jim credits his creative process to letting inspiration find him, whether it comes from Central Illinois sunsets or Hubble telescope imagery, and then allowing the distinct character, temperament and personality of the glass to come out.

Nevertheless, at Prairie Fire Glass, the artistry doesn’t stop with Jim. It’s truly a family affair. You can usually find Jim’s wife, Laurie, meticulously designing displays, while handmade furniture and vintage signs by Jim’s brother and his sister-in-law adorn the gallery. Even his website is designed by his son. 

If you’d like to see Jim’s work, as well as his son’s, head on over to And if you’d like to see Jim’s glassblowing process firsthand, consider heading over to the studio and gallery in person.

 Discover more Illinois Artisans at Illinois Made.

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