The Colorful World
of Higgins Studio
Michael and Frances Higgins established their eponymous glass studio in 1948, in their small Chicago apartment, from where they both made (with three kilns set up behind their sofa) and sold their bright and joyous fused glass works. Together, they revitalized this ancient practice, which by the twentieth century, had been displaced in favor of blown glass. Fused glass is less demanding in terms of the special tools it requires (though is very labor-intensive) and is made by directly melting pieces of glass onto others in a kiln until they fuse into a single piece; shapes are achieved by molds that the glass "slumps" over.
The Higgins' modern, graphic approach to the medium won them early admirers and they began to sell their wares at Georg Jensen, Merchandise Mart and Marshall Field's. In 1957, as demand grew for their dishes, ashtrays, lamps, rondelay screens, "framies", jewelry and mobiles, they enlisted the help of Dearborn Glass Company outside of Chicago to manufacture their works on a greater scale.
"Our ideas have so blended that we can’t always tell which pieces are hers and which are mine."
Finding mass-production challenging and too distant from the creative process, Michael and Frances re-established their own (larger) home studio in Riverside, Illinois. All of their works are signed simply "higgins", as they were equal collaborators on the body of work they built. Both continued to create glass works into their nineties and The Higgins Studio carries on today, under the direction of their chosen successors, championing the legacy of these two devoted and expressive artists.