When Duncan McClellan was five years old, his mother and father loaded him and his seven siblings into the car for a family vacation to visit the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City to see Michelangelo’s sculpture “Pietà.”
One of the places they stopped during the 17-hour drive from Orlando to New York was the Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia. The visit immediately captivated the young McClellan and ignited his interest in glassblowing.
“I hid for three hours to watch them blowing glass,” he said.
Upon his return to Florida, where opportunities to learn about the art were nonexistent at the time, he sought out other creative pursuits. In his teens and twenties, McClellan worked in pottery and leather arts. But in 1987, the glassblowing flame was rekindled when he had the chance to try glassblowing at a studio in Ybor City. He then continued his education at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop and was the second American to work and study at the Ars Murano Artistic Glass Factory in Murano, Italy.
Inspired by the colors of the sunset, McClellan spins, twists and inflates molten blobs into beautiful forms and vessels, to which he then adds imagery. McClellan is inspired by everyday conversations, experiences and nature, but he wants his viewers to take away their own ideas and messages from his pieces. McClellan said he has about 20 different forms that he works with, but he is always considering how he will fit the imagery onto the vessel.
In late 2010, McClellan opened the Duncan McClellan Gallery in St. Petersburg. The gallery features nationally and internationally recognized glass artists and has meeting, lecture and demonstration spaces. In 2013, McClellan started the DMG School Project, which has demonstrated glassblowing to more than 10,000 visitors, initiated classes for Eckerd College students, hosted school groups for tours, provided lesson plans and fostered a mobile glassblowing unit that visits inner city schools. Thanks to McClellan, no other child interested in the art of glassblowing will have to wait 20 years before pursuing his or her passion.
Duncan McClellan Gallery
2342 Emerson Ave. S.
St. Petersburg, FL