Richard Q. Ritter | Grail Series #6
Richard Q. Ritter

born 1940
Resides in Bakersville, North Carolina

Biography      Statement      Ask the Artist      In the Studio
Richard Ritter was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1940. His work is in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass, the Cabinet of West Germany, the JB Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

He has been involved with the contemporary glass movement since 1969. His small studio in the mountains of North Carolina is 12 miles from the Penland School of Crafts.


I was raised in a small farm town in the Midwest, unaware of a growing American Craft Movement. I had the great fortune as a senior in high school, to attend a class given by an arts educator that would alter the course of my life. First, I spend five years at The Society of Arts and Crafts in Detroit, and eventually found my way to Penland School of Crafts in the mountains of North Carolina. It was at Penland that I met Bill Brown, a man of tremendous vision and enthusiasm for the artists in the American Craft Movement. Twenty years later, his message--that of the necessity to be honest with one's work and to pass on our knowledge of that material--lives with me, and with the thousands of other craftsmen who were touched by his spirit and the unique Penland experience.

My work has evolved over the years into an exploration of patterned images within solid glass sculptures. The soft liquid qualities of the glass, when hot, have allowed me to create illusions of a fluid world within a concise linear surface. The transparent characteristics of my material allow me to investigate subtle colorations, internal form and line, textures and depth.

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

They are intuitive, they come about as I work.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I use an apprentice during show preparation.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I teach at Penland School of Crafts and do workshop. I do take on apprentices.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

Doing it - actually blowing the piece and seeing how it comes together in its final form.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Getting the conceptual idea in your mind into the reality of the piece.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

I do not believe that the technology has changed; it's all been done before. The mechanical melting of glass in small studios has however grown and improved.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Go to Art School! A good art school.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

Have your kids early!

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

The soul!

In the Studio

In this silent video, Ritter demonstrates some of his technique.

VIDEO (2.9 MB)

Peter Petrochko Adrien Rothschild