The foundation for Miller Glassworks began more than 30 years ago. Back then, Kirk was a school principal and co-owner of Windy Hill Orchard, but in the downtime you could find him building stained glass windows and lamps in the basement workshop. His 10-year old son Lee watched, learned, and generally slowed things down a lot.
As of 10 years ago, Kirk had retired and was more actively working in his glass shop. Lee was living in Germany, pursuing his PhD at the Max Planck Institute. Then with the passing of his parents, Kirk inherited a bit of money, which he passed on to Lee. Lee spent a lot of time wondering how to turn numbers on a computer screen into a tool for rebuilding family connections while having fun. A few months later, Lee placed a big order, with a truckload of tools and materials soon arriving at Kirk’s stained glass workshop. Both Kirk and Lee had always dreamed of working with (warm) glass using a kiln, but the expense was always a barrier… until it wasn’t.
There were definitely some tense moments, spiraling around what “…do whatever you want to do with the money” had actually meant, but father and son talked it out. Their final agreement was the truckload of equipment and special glass was Kirk’s fully and forever. Lee wasn’t being overly altruistic though. Lee now had a son of his own, and hoped to one day re-create those long-ago basement experiences of building beautiful objects from glass using skill and imagination. Working with glass in a kiln was different than stained glass though, and in return for the new materials, Lee wanted full access to a book of knowledge that Kirk would create.
Back in the USA
Lee and his family moved to Boston in early 2016, with Kirk arriving a day later. Lee’s 1930’s apartment had an unheated little room set off from the rest of the house, “Would be a great place for a little glass workshop don’t you think?” asked Kirk. Being a Dad of two young boys with a new position as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Lee knew his time was already overbooked, “Maybe someday Dad.” A few weeks later, a truckload of warm glass supplies arrived in Boston, “…just in case the opportunity presents itself!”
Miller, Miller (& Hinds), Miller, and Miller
A Family Adventure
Overall, Miller Glassworks is a simple effort to maintain a close family relationship — developing new skills and focusing on common goals to create beautiful yet useful things is a byproduct. Beyond our family, these efforts have also leveraged community. Miller Glassworks now has an exploratory project with Youghiogheny Glass (about 1 hr from Kirk’s workshop) that started with a question, and their response of “wow we’ve never tried anything like that.” Woodworking has also become an increasingly common theme of their designs, integrating glass with the quilted maple and curly cherry that can be scavenged from the ‘hideaway piles’ at local lumbermills.
This website is about showing the world how we do what we do. Yes, we are helping people copy us. The learned craftsmanship in our work over the last few years has been explosive, in part through iterative experiments and failures, but also thanks to all the informative books and information on the internet. We have no plans to stop pushing the boundaries, but also know firsthand how difficult it was to get from 0 to 1. That first empowering step continues to propel us today, and if you are ready to sweat, struggle, and smile too, we are honored to add a helping hand.
Lee, Kirk, Kerry, R, and M