An MIT staff member writes, "Each Fall since 2001, over 1,000 hand-blown glass pumpkins, squashes and gourds in all sizes, shapes, colors and designs transform the Kresge Oval into a colorful “Great Glass Pumpkin Patch” The glass pumpkins are created by students and instructors in MIT's Glass Lab, where members of the MIT community learn and practice the art of glassblowing. Beginning, intermediate, and advanced students work together in teams of six or seven to produce pumpkins for the pumpkin sale. Proceeds from this event benefit the Lab, an art program connected with MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, whose glassblowing courses are so popular that hundreds enter the lottery for admission."
"Invented by the Syrians in the 1st century B.C., freehand glass-blowing has changed little over the centuries. The MIT glass lab offers students a unique opportunity to practice an ancient artistic technique while learning about the behavior of materials.
“The students start off thinking of it strictly as a creative outlet,” Professor Michael Cima told Spectrum in 1997. “But then they want to make a particular shape–a beer mug–and they can’t get it to work. And so they start asking questions. Although their objective is still to make a creative thing, they start applying scientific principles to the problem.”
" Students appreciate the incongruity of hands-on learning of this ancient manual trade at a high-tech place like MIT."
An MIT community member writes, "This event blew my socks off! The beauty of the pumpkins, the thrill of lining up very early to be able to get a chance to "pick" a pumpkin, these are all exciting and memorable. However, it is the collaborative approach and the apprenticeship model that make this endeavor stand out to me as something distinctive and noteworthy. Glass blowing, learning theory and art meet to spark an unusual and ongoing happening."