black and white photo of Leigh Howell in white shirt lampworking at a table full of glass

Leigh Howell in the late 1930s.

Also known as: Leigh Byron Howell, Lee Howell

Born: November 1, 1919, Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Died: December 28, 1995, Green Cove Springs, Florida, United States

Nationality: American

Family: Howell

Glassworking relatives:

Active: [1924-at least 1983]

Associated acts:

Brief biography

Leigh Howell was born to Robert M. Howell and Ethel Maude Howell (née Pauley) in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 1, 1919. His parents taught him to lampwork as early as the age five, and he joined the family demonstrations several years later. Howell attended Union High School in Union, New Jersey, where he was on the college preparatory track. He was also a member of the chemistry and photography clubs, participated in the traffic and usher squads, and was the treasurer of his senior class, among other activities.

In 1939, the family made perhaps their most notable appearance at the New York World’s Fair, demonstrating at the Glass Blowers of the World pavilion.

During World War II, most of the Howells made scientific glassware for the war effort. Howell worked for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, California, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Howell worked for a number of companies making scientific glassware, including the Westinghouse Lamp Division; Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation in Niagara Falls, New York; Minneapolis-Honeywell’s aeronautical division in Los Angeles, California; and General Motors in Santa Barbara, California. He also worked for and taught scientific glassblowing at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Howell was an early member of the American Scientific Glassblowing Society, joining in 1954. In the mid-1950s and early 1960s he served as the vice president of the organization, and during that time he also edited Fusion, the Society’s journal. His membership ended in 1974.

By the early 1960s, Howell had been married at least once and had two sons and a daughter. On October 8, 1966, he married Verna E. Haensgen in Santa Barbara, California.

In July 1967, the couple opened the Dansk Glas Huset in Solvang, California. They demonstrated to tourists for several months, before divorcing in November 1967.

It is unclear whether Howell operated the shop after the divorce, but by 1970 he was regularly demonstrating to clubs, churches, and other groups. He relocated to Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and taught lampworking classes to local residents at his studio. He later closed his studio and opened a mobile studio, in which he toured and taught classes.

Howell, an evangelical Baptist, later preached the “Gospel in Glass” at Baptist churches around the country, from at least 1977 to 1983. He mainly resided in Florida later in his life.

Howell died in Green Cove Springs, Florida, on December 28, 1995.

Related posts