Photo by Andrew Iannazzi

Randa eventually moved back to Iowa, taking up a glassblowing class. “I was just learning how to blow a bubble, and I could make paperweights and stuff like that. That kept me interested,” he says. After several months in Iowa, he reached out to McDermott about returning to work at his studio. “At the time I said, ‘Alright, but we don’t have any money.’ We had an extra room, so he stayed with us for a few years,” McDermott says. “It was like one little family.”

The close bond they formed would prove key to Randa’s development as a glassblower as well as their success as a team. “There’s not really much verbal communication going on when you’re in the studio working,” McDermott says. Randa explains: “A lot of it is silent communication – you’re trying to read each other’s minds to be there before they need something. That was a really important thing at McDermott that I learned. It’s a glass language, basically.”

For over a decade Randa honed his “fast, efficient glassblowing” skills with McDermott. “And then I got more into doing sculpture,” Randa says, “and that took over,” so he set his sights on going solo. “We were really sad to see him go, but we’re really happy for him,” says McDermott. “He’s a glass artist to be reckoned with, for sure.”