The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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Ryan Melgardshagen: A master with glass and a glove

©HAWKEYE image credit: Emmalee Harmon
Ryan Melgardshagen works on making marbles with flowers inside. This challenging glass project in the manufacturing classroom overseen by art and CTE instructor Mark Walker.

Get ready to be blown away as the skilled artist Ryan Melgardshagen, with a unique talent for glasswork, sets the stage for a senior year’s worth of progression in crafting the perfect glass marbles and small glass flower pieces.

When Ryan Melgardshagen was informed of the Jewelry and Metalworking class freshman year, it immediately caught his attention.

“My freshman year, I came into the school and I saw this really interesting class on the list – it was jewelry and metalworking,” Melgardshagen said. “I saw that class and I thought, ‘Oh, this would be a really cool class to take.’” Though the start of fine art for Melgardshagen wouldn’t continue until his senior year, “Then the course name changed.”

Because of this simple name change, the metalworking and glassmaking classes wouldn’t be brought to Melgardshagen’s attention again until well later into his high school years, “I thought they got rid of the class but, eventually, someone last year, one of my friends, took Manufactury and Innovations and he was just like, ‘Yeah it’s just the same metal and jewelry class from last year, but it expanded into broader stuff,’”

The soon-to-be glassworker unknowingly decided at that moment he would finally expand his skill set by joining Mr. Walker’s, more commonly known as Mark’s, Manufacturing and Innovation class. “So I come in here this year, meet Mark for the first time and tell him I don’t really know what I want to do,” Melgardshagen knew of glasswork and wanted to expand his knowledge on the topic. He had heard of glassblowing but had never breached into more subjects of the glassblowing world.

Melgardshagen had barely touched glass before he came into Mark’s studio, only having completed basic glassworks, such as plates and spheres, “It was very minimal, instead of finer, more detailed stuff I do now, instead, it was big medal rods that you see in studios where they have the massive plates and balls and spheres or objects or one of those big projects,” Due to Mountlake Terrace’s broad expansion of the arts, Melgardshagen got the chance to experiment with glass more than he could ever imagine, “I’ve been to a few classes like that but nothing like the lampwork here.”

Melgardshagen barely got the chance to expand his artistic pallet before Mark showed him the ropes, “He turned on the torch for the first time and told me what it was all about.” And with the mentoring of Mark by his side, Melgardshagen finally branched out into what he soon discovered would be his new hobby that would soon overtake his life, “From there, I was just super interested in it, and it took up a lot of my time.” And as Melgardshagens time took up, his work with glassmaking quickly improved, “Honestly, it was a really good way to spend an hour every day, and the more I’ve played with the glass and the more I’ve looked up videos on the internet, and just stuff heard about it and talked about it, the more I’ve gotten interested in it. And it just led me through the year.”

Throughout his senior year, Melgardshagen faced many challenges and failed attempts at glasswork. With a new endowment in the hands of the soon-to-be skilled glassmaker, he was bound to make mistakes, “You have to be very patient with it so you can’t rush it a lot. That’s one thing I’ve had a lot of trouble with in the past,”

“Just working on projects and rushing through to the end, I’m not really worrying about the final product,” though that wouldn’t stop his passion, Melgardshagen was determined to embrace his love for glassmaking. “I always look back on my projects like, ‘Alright, here’s what I can improve,’ or ‘Maybe tried this,’ or ‘Experiment with that,’ or whatever. It’s just. It’s fun.”

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In December of 2023, Melgardshagen started focusing on flowers, practicing almost every day to perfect different flower patterns within small glass pieces like marbles. Marbles soon became his main focus.

“I think just working on it so much, every single day, even weekends, spending hours upon hours of time, learning how to work with the material, learning how everything works together, you know,” His determined mindset quickly led him to achieve multiple milestones and well-acclaimed pieces of artwork, including marbles, different detailed flower work, and other small detailed pieces. “Also, I had a lot of free time. So that helps.”

Melgardshagen has stayed motivated in his work and continues to create new pieces. Though he said he couldn’t have done it without his mentor, Mark, “Well, if I had to say one, it was Mark because he was the first guy to show me the torch work and just showed me the basics of it.” Mark has continued encouraging others like Melgardshagen to pursue their artistic ability, “He’s just an inspirational person and just a lot of fun, and in this class, he encourages people to have fun.”

He plans to continue glassmaking only as a hobby, “All kids are broke, and glass is very expensive.” Due to financial stability and Melgardshagen’s other passions, he’s decided to stick to Mechanical Engineering. Though he still holds love in his heart for glasswork “I’ve thought about it for a long time, and I would love to, but I’m also not too keen on dropping like 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 dollars on a whole setup that I may or may not use a lot.”

Melgardshagen encourages other MTHS students to pursue the same artistic passion, “It depends on where you are in school right now. If you’re a junior and below, take manufacturing innovations. The budget cuts will hurt this class, but there’s still enough here to keep you interested, and it’s a good place to start.”

Melgardshagen also encourages art and glassmaking to outgoing seniors, “If you’re a senior and beyond, I would say go to Shack Art Center in Everett, or other glass-blowing studios, and just watch at the very least or pay for a class.” His main advice is to surround yourself with information on glasswork and continue to self-educate yourself, “If you’re interested in glasswork just surround yourself with articles and videos and classes.”

Melgardshagens leaving thoughts on high school, “High school is not only about grades as a lot of people believe it is. I’m not gonna say it doesn’t matter at all because they do. They matter a hell of a lot. But it’s not only about grades, so experience as much as you can. You’re still a kid, so you have a bunch of energy to go around and do sports. Do art. Do whatever, right? If you wanna make rockets? Go make rockets. If you wanna play baseball? Go play baseball. If you wanna do glasswork? Do glasswork. Just experiment, try a little bit of everything.”

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About the Contributors
Halle Connell, News Editor
Halle Connell has been working with and studying journalism for 3 years and has produced many well-received articles and videos to different school news outlets. She mainly focuses on world news and is very interested in political and social issues. She has worked with many students in the past to get opinions of the people and not just news anchors. Halle is very interested in social justice and working to educate the world on the topics many people are not willing to talk about. Halle plans to attend college to get a degree in journalism or psychology. She is currently studying French and hopes to study abroad in France one day.
Emmalee Harmon, Tempo Co-Editor-in-Chief
Emmalee Harmon joined HSM to make friends and because she enjoys photography and wanted to have more experience. In her role as photo editor, she strives to teach others how to use a camera and to use settings, editing, and angles to achieve interesting photos. Emmalee is also a setter in volleyball and plays the violin and cello.
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