Six glass-blown pumpkins of various sizes and shapes.

Featured Artisan – Tim Burke

‘Round the Mountain Featured Artisan
Tim Burke

Tim Burke has nearly three decades of experience honing his craft of hand-sculpted glass sculptures.

This fall, one of those designs that might be more prominent is his hand-blown pumpkin collection. “Glass is a perfect medium for rendering organic forms,” Burke said. “It flows.”

Three glass blown pumpkins in orange, blue, and yellow.

Burke said the collection began nearly 30 years ago after graduating from Virginia Tech as he began blowing glass at the New Orleans School of Glassworks in Louisiana. Burke also recalls a time where he delivered up to 500 pieces at a time to the Corning Museum of Glass Gift Shop in New York. “We did it until we started dreaming about pumpkins, then it was time,” Burke said. “We switched to snowmen.”

Tim Burke, an artisan glassmaker, uses tools to mold glass into a decorative object.

Burke returned to the region to continue his passion in his home community of Floyd. He said this work is sentimental because it is an activity that he is now passing down to his son, Liam. His designs vary beyond seasonal offerings. He also handcrafts beautiful vases and high-end sculptures.

Glass-blowing has become Burke’s full-time endeavor. Burke previously managed the public access glass studio ‘Urban Glass’ in Brooklyn, New York. He was given his first studio to operate and develop a product line by the Lunt Family in 1995. Five years later, he opened The Vitroyoyo Glass Studio at home in Floyd until it was sold to Crenshaw Lighting. It is now referred to as ‘The Glassworks at Crenshaw Lighting’ where he works on custom blown and molded glass pieces for lighting elements. Burke also designs and produces commissioned restoration work for state and federal governments, as well as large open public space including theaters, opera houses, universities, houses of worship, and restaurants. It is an art that links him to previous generations of craftsmen. “It is a real connection to the past,” he said.

Burke says his process with each glass sculpture begins with gathering the molten glass, which comes out of the furnace at 2,150 degrees to create his masterpieces through methods of sculpting, design, and fabrication.

A close-up picture of an orange glass-blown pumpkin with a lighter, yellowish curly stem.

Burke’s pumpkins vary in price point, ranging often in prices from $50 – $175 to match the unique design of each product. He said there are all kinds of characteristics to consider, including the size and style. Burke describes the representation of shapes as “realistic, plump, healthy, and fresh.”

Burke offers products at many locations across the country. You can find his items at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace in Abingdon, the Floyd Center for the Arts, and various gift shops across the east coast.