Hot Shop Heroes™ is a program for military personnel and veterans, many of whom are coping with traumatic experiences and injuries sustained in combat. Working in a team-oriented environment, participants bond with one another, and creatively explore the medium of molten glass. The combination of social interaction, focused work on a shared goal, and creative expression provides a healing experience.

The program is the culmination of a multi-year commitment between the Museum and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the nearby U.S. Army and Air Force base. What began as an opportunity for military members and their families to enjoy hands-on art activities, glassblowing demonstrations, and gallery exhibitions, has become a program designed to assist active-duty and retired service men and women in their successful transition to civilian life. The program has shown that the attention and teamwork needed to blow glass can be therapeutic, especially for individuals with traumas and injuries that have occurred during military service.

Since the program launched in the fall of 2013, the curriculum has focused on Hot Shop safety, fundamental glass making techniques, and team building skills. The objectives were to offer benefits such as improved dexterity, fine motor coordination, and core strength, as well as the opportunity to build self-esteem, explore creativity, and access imagination by participating in the arts. Today, it remains a core educational program for Museum of Glass.

Glassblowing and flameworking courses are offered to participating soldiers and veterans at introductory and intermediate levels. With classes designed around different levels of glassmaking experience, Hot Shop Heroes allows participants to continue honing their skill sets, which reach beyond the walls of the Museum’s Hot Shop to new job opportunities.

Hot Shop Heroes relies on outside funding to provide classes. There is no cost for participating students. As of 2023, over 750 soldiers and veterans have been served through the Hot Shop Heroes program.

Classes are Monday (Beginner Course) and Wednesday (Intermediate Course) evenings at 5pm for eight-week fall, spring, and winter sessions. During the summer months the Museum runs a production class where the participants create work that is sold in the Museum Store, with half of the proceeds benefiting the program.

Being in the Hot Shop, you are challenged in a different way physically, mentally, and creatively, so it helps relieve stress, and you feel accomplished that you get to make something. Everyone looks forward to coming every week.
— Daniella, Hot Shop Heroes student

Hear from Hot Shop Heroes


Thank you to our Hot Shop Heroes™ Program Sponsors