A few months back, my dear friend and mentor, Lee Lyon passed away at the age of 91. I have been reflecting a great deal as of late of my time as Lee’s student, business partner, adopted daughter, drinking buddy, and much more. It seems appropriate now to share the legacy of Spiro Lyon Glass, and fantastic story of an inspiring man and his ever-grateful protégé.
In 1990, after retiring from his family’s hide processing business and post photography dabbling, Lee was working as a freelance Ceramicist. He had a commission for a ceramic fountain wall. What he wanted was a red glaze to use on the wall, but could not find a true red. That was when he decided to enroll in a glass casting class taught by John Lewis at Pilchuck Glass School.
Lee imagined he would find a red glaze (glass) that he could use for his project, and that be that. Instead, something incredible happened. Lee fell in love with molten glass. “Bitten by the Glass Bug,” you might say. He returned home, finished his last ceramic project and immediately turned his ceramic studio into a hot glass shop. Trouble was, hot glass casting is not a one-man job.
Lee set out to find a strong young man to assist him in the studio. He reached out to several brawny prospects that he knew, but all were busy with other things. One prospect Lee had petitioned, Mark Haas, told Lee that he knew someone that might be available. Enter Jacqueline Spiro, 23 years old, and as Lee would say “100 pounds soaking wet”. Not exactly the big strong assistant Lee had in mind, but nonetheless, it was the beginning of a 25-year partnership and the birth of Spiro Lyon Glass.