The Glass Pumpkin Patch returns to Morton Arboretum for the Fall

Donate Today Buy This Video

The Fall season is now in full swing as the Glass Pumpkin Patch attracts people from across the Chicagoland area. It was an idea brought to Morton Arboretum employee and the Glass Pumpkins Patch Co-Founder Jacque Fucilla over a decade ago.

How the Glass Pumpkin Patch began

“It was kind of by chance that the other co-founder, Shannon Jane Morgan, she’s our glass studio out of Sacramento, California, actually walked into the store, and she had a glass pumpkin, and she sat in front of me, and she said, ‘How about we put 2,000 of these out on your West Lawn?’ And I said, okay,” said Fucilla.

What began as an idea has now been a Morton Arboretum staple for 13 years and continues to grow with thousands expected to attend in the following days.

“Glass art is really beautiful, and it really lends itself to so many different styles and techniques and colors. So you really can have something for everybody in glass, and as far as glass pumpkins go, pumpkins are such an iconic part of the Midwest and our fall tradition. So we just thought the combo of the glass and the pumpkins together was really going to be a key for the success of the event,” said Fucilla.

Unique glass art pieces on display at Morton Arboretum

The glass pumpkins take the main stage at the event. Yet, they aren’t the only artworks on display as different varieties of vibrant glass with the patch now featuring over 7,000 unique pieces of glass art. The colors in glass are achieved by using metal oxides and minerals, like gold (red and pink) and cobalt (blue), during the glass-melting process. This method allows artists to make captivating glass pieces that Fucilla believes bring something different to the event.

“We did a farmer’s market, and the artist came up with these really fabulous creations of oranges and limes and lemons and apples and eggplants and zucchini and just all kinds of different vegetables and fruits for a farmer’s market display, which was really popular. But with anything, you want to keep things fresh and new. So we’ve evolved over the years, and we wanted to kind of show off a little bit more of what the artist can do besides Glass Pumpkins,” said Fucilla.

Professional Glass artist creates art to create change

For the Glass Pumpkin Patch, the artists are hand-picked and given an opportunity to showcase and sell their work. Glass artworks of different shapes and sizes were created by various glass-blowing artists, each with their own style. One of those artists is N’Kosi Barber, an artist from Chicago who found the craft, and never looked back.

“I went to an alternative school on the South Side of Chicago, and they end up having a glass-blowing studio inside the school. So my teacher, seeing like a picture that I had to, she’s like, ‘come to the glass studio,’ and then she dropped some glass on the ground, and I was sold from there,” said Barber.

Barber, who has been a glass artist for ten years, says he uses his art to express himself. He is helping others do the same with the organization Firebird Community Arts, which he co-founded in 2015, helps Chicagoans who have lost loved ones to gun violence to learn glass-blowing.

“We help kids that’s been victims of gun violence on the south and west side of Chicago. They come in; we teach them how to blow glass. They actually get paid and learn how to blow glass, and then we go to different events in Chicago, and we sell the art,” said Barber.

Pumpkin plans for this weekend

The Glass Pumpkin Patch will be open to the public through Sunday as the glass pumpkin patch shop is open this weekend from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the glass blowing exhibition from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The three-day event, Fucilla says, is great for the people to see the art and creative talent involved in the event.

“Seeing what they bring new each year is always fascinating and also just working with the public and just seeing everybody, you and I, over these creations and what’s new, and people kind of get their favorite artists, and they like to come back every year to see what they’ve done. But then, obviously, we’re introducing new work and new artists all the time, so there’s always something new to see,” said Fucilla.

Have a story idea? We’d like to hear from you!