CORNING, N.Y. (WROC) — “Blown Away” is a new Netflix series that debuted Friday. It’s the first competition reality show to feature glassblowing and the Corning Museum of Glass was a big part of it.
“Glass is a very special material to work with,” said Eric Meek, manager of hot glass programs at Corning Museum of Glass. “It’s seductive to watch, beautiful motion.”
The show has 10 episodes with 10 glass makers from across North America facing different challenges — with one winner at the end.
The final prize is a residency at Corning Museum of Glass. Museum officials say they have received pitches before to do a glassblowing reality show, either to host the competition or just be advisers, but until “Blown Away” it never happened.
So what was the difference between then and now?
The difference was the company producing the show. Toronto-based Marvel Media sold the idea to Netflix, but built their own studio for the show, and then displayed a deep respect for the craft.
“We’re the liaison between this production team and the glass world so we really wanted to make sure that they were approaching it in a way that was respectful to the artist, and really keep it authentic to the material,” Meek said.
The final episode featured Meek as a guest judge, and along with introducing the final challenge, he had to make the decision between two people he knew.
“These were people that I knew, and I knew well,” said Meek. “These two contestants had been through weeks of really intense work and to boil it down to one episode and one decision was extremely difficult. Either of them could have won because they both just put everything into their project. It’s like picking your favorite kid — it was so hard.”
The residency starts in October.
“The winning contestant will come to Corning Museum of Glass, and really dig into the resources to propel their career forward,” Meek said. “They’ll get the name recognition on the show, and they’ll be able to put that into practice.”
Meek also wants viewers to learn more about that glassblowing is a team effort, and a unique craft.
“Glassblowing isn’t just a technical or physical exercise,” Meek said. “It’s really an intellectual exercise. To see the thought, and the care, and the passion that the artists put into their work — I think it’s going to be eye-opening and fascinating for the viewer.”