Fun with fire

The art of glass flourishes at Wimberley Glassworks

Each day when Tim deJong arrives at his shop Wimberley Glassworks, his brain begins the delicate dance between the right and left sides. It’s likely his ability to exercise both creative talent and business sense, combined with his impeccable work ethic, that has made it possible for him to do what he loves for so long.

Lessons lived and learned

As Wimberley Glassworks celebrates its 25th anniversary, Tim credits his family and colleagues for helping him grow as a successful artist and person. After high school, Tim declared to his father that he didn’t want to go to college. His dad’s response was to offer him $300, a one-way ticket from New Jersey to Seattle, and a deal that if he worked his way home and still didn’t want to attend college, that would be just fine.

Those daunting months on his own took him through Austin, where he spent weeks living under what is now the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, and influenced his approach to life immensely. “It taught me really valuable lessons: how far you can push it until you fall, where absolute bottom is, and that if I worked hard I could get out no matter how far I fell,” Tim explains.

After his experience with homelessness, he was happy to attend art school at Alfred University. Times weren’t much easier after graduation, but Tim persevered. He bought his first shop in Philadelphia and painstakingly fixed it up. He made his living by picking through trashed furniture, then refurbishing and selling it. “I literally built my first shop one brick at a time,” he recalls. “I would do a job and buy a brick, and over the period of two to three years, I finally put together my own studio.”

The art of glass and light

Signature Oak Tree Lamp

It was a trip to Niagara Falls in February 1979 that sparked Tim’s interest in glasswork. As he watched how the sunset and built-up ice transformed the waterfalls into a kaleidoscope of changing colors, he thought, “I have got to work with this. This is so cool!”

When Tim first started working with glass, he was, perhaps, a mediocre glass blower, but his grit and determination to start a studio and hold onto it earned the respect of buyers and the community. And with practice, over time he became great.

Today, Tim employs a team of glassworkers at his shop Wimberley Glassworks, and they design pieces for businesses and homes all over the country. Each piece that comes out of Wimberley Glassworks has meaning and an intentional concept behind it. Many of Wimberley Glassworks’ lighting fixtures stem from Tim’s inspirational experience at Niagara Falls.

Recent Granite 5 Plano Texas art installation

While Tim is hard-pressed to name his favorite piece, one titled New Beginnings stands out to him. The piece speaks to the cycle of life: a large collection of platters hanging on a wall, each with a swirling pattern inspired by imagining what a conch shell cut in half would reveal about the life that formed within it. The piece reflects how life’s experiences inevitably change every being, up until the time of death.

Risky business

Glass blowing is extremely physical work that requires great patience, technical and mechanical knowledge, creativity, and a willingness to sweat. Tim works in the studio every Saturday, demonstrating the grueling but Zen-like process. “I will work every Saturday until I drop,” he says. “I love working the material. It’s so magical.”

The creative component—designing and making the pieces—of the business may come most naturally to Tim, but that doesn’t make the process easy. “The most difficult thing to do is to be creative when you’re terrified,” he explains. “And you just have to do it.” Tim’s fears have changed over time; these days, it’s one of his biggest fears—his responsibility to his employees and their families—that motivates him not to fail.

Reflecting on 25 years

While Tim is reluctant to think he’s “made it,” in terms of skill or business, he will credit the longevity and successes of Wimberley Glassworks to everyone who has worked with him along the way. When Tim didn’t have an answer, someone on his team would.

“Sometimes I don’t see what I’ve done because I’m so close to it. But when someone new comes to the studio for the first time, I can see through their eyes that this is really cool, so much cooler than I ever thought it would be,” Tim says. “I’m most proud and thrilled that I still get to do what I love every day. I’m incredibly lucky.”

“Nobody needs what I do. They want it. People don’t buy from us because we’re awesome. They buy from us because they love us. And the moment we lose sight of that is the moment we fail.”

For more information on Wimberley Glassworks, visit

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