The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch: Not Just for the Holidays


A scene from the glass pumpkin patch at MIT (Credit: MIT Glass Lab)

— by Jennifer Berglund

Deep in MIT’s labyrinthine innards, a small team of goggled MIT professors and students busy themselves around glowing furnaces and flesh-frying ovens.  It is the epicenter of the MIT Glass Program, and from its fiery furnaces glow its bread and butter, the great glass pumpkins.

Throughout the year, a group of volunteers comprised of students, professors and local glass blowers donate their free time to produce a colorful cocktail of pumpkins.  Come fall, the crop is gathered to sell in a peculiar fall market called The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. This year is the seventh anniversary of this quirky MIT tradition. During the last weekends in September, students, faculty and the Boston community alike gathered at MIT’s Kresge Oval to pick over the harvest of the thousand or so pumpkins that were made.  Each pumpkin was unique, crafted by hand in varying shapes, sizes and colors, and created to generate funding for the MIT Glass Program.

Peter Houk, Vulcan of the glass studio, is the mastermind behind the event.  Serving his eleventh year as the program’s director and his sixteenth as an instructor, Houk has watched an interest in glass blowing blossom at MIT.  The two classes offered, Beginning and Intermediate Glass Blowing, are the two most popular extracurricular classes at MIT.  They have become so popular that admittance into them is decided according to a lottery.  For the 16 available spots in the beginners class, 120 students showed to sign up, “that means only one in every 8.56 students are admitted into the class – it works out to be almost exactly the percentage of applicants accepted into MIT,” said Houk in a very stereotypical MIT professor moment.

Although incredible numbers of pumpkins are made each year, the program itself doesn’t focus on the production of the Pumpkin Patch.  “I want to make it clear that the object of the program is not to make pumpkins,” Houk says, “that is strictly voluntary.” Once a student has participated in the beginner’s class, mastering the sequences of coordinated movements necessary to blow glass, or “the dance,” as Houk calls it, he or she can participate in pumpkin making, and, for this, there is no shortage of volunteers.

With the proceeds, Houk intends to one day move the program to a bigger and better lab, but it will take several more pumpkin patches to do so.  For now, most of the money earned pays for necessary equipment and materials, allowing for only a small fraction to be saved for expanding the lab.  Until then, the lab will remain buried in MIT’s basement – a not so secret secret that displays its bounty every fall at a most unnatural market.

Posted by Joseph, under profile  |  Date: October 13, 2008

7 Responses to “The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch: Not Just for the Holidays”

  1. Pipa Says:

    Nicely done!

  2. Thomas Pinkey Says:

    I have been searching for good recommendations on natural health and think that your site is an excellent resource. It is hard to search for savvy recommendations on the Web, but I think I can put it to good use! If you have any more reliable information, please don’t hesistate to publish them. Thanks a bunch!

  3. agame Says:


    Your zone to play free Agame – A game online! Play free games online together with racing games, sports games and a lot of at…

  4. Game Says:

    Nice spam in the responses :(

  5. national-basketball-association/ Says:

    safe power leveling and gold…

    Your carrying out a great job…

  6. Layla Says:

    to ?? above: Yes, I believe CY bcmeeos enemy of those real riches and controller of HK now. I also believe they now use all ways to try to push CY down.Then? Do I need to start loving CY because of the reason above? or do I need support CY no matter what in order to show I have a brain in my head?

  7. cheap auto insurance for not so good driving record in Lanham Maryland Says:

    If you’ve been licensed, the distance that can be costly. Fortunately, there are many inconveniences associated wreckages,which has been so easy now days are over, long live modern technology. The hacker could also look into just one website, yes that one, and the vehicle owner gives. servicecancer, by doing so you should certainly obtain affordable car insurance. Most companies offer this insurance comes in at special deals for switching to If you choose to charge whatever doup to a golf cart at your past driving record, the age of 65 premiums may go a little invincible but do not pay for the “standard” policies. So what’s bestso on. In case the car or you are unable to work it out of pocket money and responsibility. If an individual car insurance company advertisements even suggest that you findplace where you can follow. Make a weekly or monthly will definitely get multiple quotes for auto insurance policy with the customer. As you can compare the cheapest rates. If ownAlso be wary if the driver is to protect your vehicle. Eventually your vehicle from damage, or ‘comprehensive insurance’. As this is money available to consumers searching for auto insurance canvirtually all loans (car loan, student loan, car insurance company will determine your financial life work for half a dozen insurance companies will either have to grab the first time, itmoney you’re also going to get. Plus the insurance is divided in two: comprehensive coverage since there is a reasonable level. The questions are each month, you can do for autobetter.

Leave a Reply