Our Narratives

Click here to edit subtitle


Jellyfish in Glass, Interview with Richard Satava,
World Renowned Hand-blown Glass Artist

By Adelina, 01-23-2020

“Amazing” and “unbelievable” were the two words that came to my mind when I first saw Richard Satava’s Jellyfish in Glass series in a gallery in northern California two years ago. Their surreal yet realistic appearance makes me feel as if I am staring at a real jellyfish swimming elegantly in a deep ocean frozen in a moment of time. They are absolutely breathtaking -- when the light shines in, a vivid yet translucent jellyfish becomes animated right before my eyes. Ever since then, I have been following the creator of the Jellyfish in Glass series: Richard Satava. (In addition to his flagship Jellyfish in Glass series, he also creates beautiful hand-blown Floral vases as well as Petroglyph Rocks.)

"Moon Jellyfish"

Courtesy: Richard Satava

I recently caught up with Richard, and he agreed to be interviewed. I hope you enjoy it and find it as informative as I do.

Q: Your hand-blown vases, depicting natural landscapes, are absolutely amazing. If you don’t mind, please share with us your artistic training both in schools and during apprenticeship.

A: I took ceramics my freshman year in high school and then the following year at a glassblowing program created at my high school and I was one of a handful of students chosen to participate. I was attracted to it almost immediately. I went on to study glass at the College of San Mateo and then at California State University, Chico. At Chico, upon entering the glass program, I immediately got a job as a technician, which I did for a year. This helped lay the groundwork for using the equipment necessary in the glassblowing field.

Mt. Shasta Vase

Courtesy: Richard Satava

Q: Jellyfish in Glass series is definitely unique and highly collectible. What inspired you to create this series and how did you conceptualize your ideas in turning them into this beautiful glass work?

A: It stemmed from a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in which I viewed the jellyfish in an exceptional setting. Much like viewing art at a gallery, it was mesmerizing and I knew then that I needed to capture the nature of the jellyfish in glass.  I spent numerous years experimenting with techniques and various formulas to achieve the translucent colors needed to make the jellyfish. Finally, by 1995, the series was ready for display.

Double Pacific Coast Jellyfish Seascape

Courtesy: Richard Satava 

Q: You are located in Chico, California which is in northern California. How has the natural landscape in that region influenced your art creation?

A: It has been extremely prevalent in my work. The ocean and sea life series (Jellyfish and nautilus) from my upbringing in Pacifica and being by the ocean, the florals series (Iris, Crocus, Poppy, Rock Roses) from my yard and living in Chico, and my landscape series (Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, Butte Creek, Sutter Buttes series I did for the California Rice Commission) from the surrounding areas and all the amazing natural beauty just an hour or so from my front door. Northern California has so much variety it never stops inspiring me.

Wild Iris Flask

Courtesy: Richard Satava

Q: Your Floral vases have evolved through the years in terms of colors and inspiration. Please share with us some ways your art has evolved.

A: This is an interesting question that really brought to mind one word: Technique.  My art has evolved through technique. One can have an idea for something they would like to make but without the skills and techniques to do so it can't go anywhere. Ultimately, technique comes first and then the design develops. As an example, the jellyfish series took me years. I knew I wanted to make them, but I had to figure out how to do them so that they represented what I imagined the end product would be. I wanted to create translucent dome colors that weren't grainy, but clear and ethereal looking, and that took me awhile.  I knew I had the skills to make it happen, but I had to figure out the specific techniques and hone the right expertise to execute it.

Red Lily on Blue Meadow Vase

Courtesy: Richard Satava

Q: You have also created a series titled Petroglyph Rocks which is different from your hand-blown vases. Please share with us how you came up with this series and why you created these prehistoric motifs?

A: That series came about from me wanting to design something for a particular market, in this case The Nature Company. At that point in time they had about 16 stores and I wanted to create something that I thought would fit a niche for them. I did a lot of dinosaur images, as well as, petroglyph images from around the various parts of the U. S. from Alaska, Hawaii, Four Corners, but also from the world, as in Africa and other parts. It was fascinating. Then I developed, created, and pitched it to The Nature Company, and they accepted it, and we started to produce them, but within a few years they jumped to 160 stores and I didn't want to get tied to just doing one type of design, so I pulled out. I have continued to develop and add to them over the years creating them into rocks, paperweights, and cave forms as well as vases and basket forms.

Petroglyph Golden Brown Basket Vase

Courtesy: Richard Satava

Q: What are some important factors in creating glass art work?

A: One of the most important factors, after skill, is high quality materials. I can't emphasize this enough. Also having up-to-date and well maintained equipment as well.


Q: Other than creating artwork, please share with us your most favorite thing to do.

A: That is easy, skiing and snowboarding.


Q: Do you hold workshops or provide apprenticeships for young artists?

A: We have done a few internships in the past and have hosted demonstrations for various events, but for the most part we are pretty busy being a full-time production studio and keeping on top of our orders.

Purple Ribbed Jellyfish Seascape

Courtesy: Richard Satava

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: In recent years we have been putting a lot of effort into our Seascape Jellyfish designs trying to perfect it and get a beautiful jellyfish piece with a striking background that has a visual effect of the jellyfish standing out more in juxtaposition to the background -- many say it has a 3D effect, plus it looks amazing on and off a light. That has been a lot of fun to work with.


Q: Where is the best place to view your artwork in person?  

A: We are represented in numerous gallery across the U.S. and in the world and you can check out our website for a complete list. Below is a sample of some of our best:

Ki'i Gallery - Wailea, HI

Fusion - Santa Rosa, FL

Effusion Gallery - Keywest, Fl and Miami Beach, FL

Art for Wildlife - Coronado, CA

Monterey Bay Aquarium - Monterey, CA

Cutter & Cutter Fine Art - St. Augustine, FL

Lotton Gallery - Chicago, IL

Real Mother Goose - Portland, OR


Also, if near our studio in Chico, CA our gallery attached to our studio is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 - 4 pm, and viewing of the glassblowing is available Tuesdays through Thursdays and Monday by appointment.

Courtesy: Richard Satava

I hope you find Richard’s story as inspiring as his art creations. We thank him for taking his time from his busy schedule to let us know more about him and his artwork. We sincerely wish him great success.

Richard Satava's Website