Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Glassblower

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

occupation, character building, background information, writing a story, novel writingOccupation: Glassblower

Overview: A glass-forming technique whereby the artist manipulates glass (either by blowing through a tube or relying on more advanced methods) into various forms, such as vases, dishware, jewelry, window panes, figurines, art, and other décor. Glassblowers can work in museums, universities, or factories where they might create custom glass pieces for customers (such as scientists and manufacturers), teach apprentices, or do presentations for visitors. Others occupy studios to create freelance artwork that they sell to the public.

Necessary Training: Classes can be taken at trade schools and some colleges, but an apprenticeship with a master is the best way to become proficient in this area.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Promotion, breath control, manual dexterity, a high heat tolerance

Helpful Character Traits: Patient, alert, cooperative, creative, focused, industrious, passionate, persistent, whimsical, extravagant, fussy, perfectionist

Sources of Friction:

  • Friends and families who want one to pursue a more lucrative or mainstream career
  • Competitive or jealous rivals
  • Unfair teachers
  • Limited opportunities for training nearby
  • A physical disability
  • Internal doubts about one’s abilities
  • Limited finances
  • A competitive market
  • A change that results in one having to work with inferior supplies (a depressed financial market, a monopoly on certain supplies, a change in manufacturer, etc.) 

People They Might Interact With: Other apprentices or students, a master glassblower or teacher, landlords, gallery owners and visitors, delivery people, customers

How This Occupation Can Impact the Character’s Basic Needs:

  • Physiological/Safety and Security: While it’s possible for a person to make a living at this occupation, it’s difficult. On average, artisanal glassblowers today make about $30,000 per year. As a result, they often endure many years of financial sacrifice so they can pursue their passion and try to build a livable career. This can impact their safety or even their physiological needs.
  • Love and Belonging: They also may forego relationships with others due to focusing on their career, which can create a void in the love and belonging department.
  • Esteem and recognition: This need can take a hit when criticism comes along from professionals in the field, loved ones, or even the artist himself.
  • Self-Actualization: If the artist takes on a teaching or manufacturing job to cover the bills, he may find himself in a career that he doesn’t enjoy, sacrificing self-actualization.

Common Work-Related Settings: art gallery, art studio, factory, museum, shopping mall, university quad

Twisting the Stereotype: The majority of glassblowers are men, so having a successful woman in this career would be a refreshing change. Because of the dangerous materials and amount of training required to do well in this area, glassblowers are typically adults. So creating the right circumstances for a teen or young adult to be involved in this trade could also add an interesting twist.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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14 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Glassblower

  1. Pingback: Writing Links…9/18/17 – Where Genres Collide

  2. Thank you so much for this! I have a minor character in my series for Harlequin Special Edition and he makes glass blown wind chimes. I had thought at some point I would like for him to have his own story so this is perfect.

  3. I just kept thinking how easy it is to develop a character when you know their passion and what they will sacrifice. I say easy but you know what I mean, nothing is easy in writing but sometimes a profession gives us leads to expand from.

    • I like this viewpoint, Barbara. The things a character are passionate about can tell us a lot about who they are, what they want, and how far they’re willing to go to get it. Great insight.

  4. Tisha says:

    This is great. I just love this idea and addition to this source site.

  5. carol baldwin says:

    I can’t believe your first entry in this new thesaurus is about my “next book’s” main character– a glassblower in the 1920’s (he’s my protagonists’ grandfather.) Love all you put in here. Historically, the glass industry used very young workers in glasshouses. Fascinating stuff–Lewis Hines documented a lot. Someday–maybe that will be a book too.

    • Awesome! I saw a glass blower working in Italy once and I’ve been fascinated with the process ever since 🙂

      • carol Baldwin says:

        I agree, Becca. Glass is magical! In fact, I wrote an entire book on the art, history, and science of glass for kids. My publisher went out of business before it got published. I told myself that every novel I wrote would use some of the HUGE amount of research that I gleaned from that project.

  6. Rahma says:

    I love how you are profiling unusual occupations. My character got a degree in sociology but can’t find a job. She ends up as a music therapist. It would be a great help if you could profile this career. Thanks!

  7. Gifford MacShane says:

    This is great! My college (Centre College of KY) offers glass-blowing now as part of its Fine Arts Program. It’s taught by a guy who was in my graduating class (I won’t say when!) If it had been available when I was there, I definitely would have tried it.

    BTW, there’s a wonderful book by Dick Francis, “Shattered”, that features a glassblower who gets caught up in a murder mystery. The dangers of blowing glass are many, as he pretty specifically points out. I highly recommend it (along with all his other novels).

    Nice job!

  8. :Donna says:

    wow, what an interesting occupation choice! 😀

  9. Glynis Jolly says:

    I have seen glass blowers at mountain resorts too. It is fascinating to watch they work.

  10. I’ll be a devoted follower to this series!

  11. Dick Francis wrote a mystery in which a glass blower figured prominently into the plot. Interesting article.

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