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James Wilbat studied watercolor and drawing as a youngster — as early as the 5th grade. He continued his love of the arts at Illinois State University where he received a B.S. in Fine Arts in 1977. Although he had majored in ceramics in undergraduate school, he encountered glass blowing in his senior year, and he knew he had to learn this unusual craft. In 1980 he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Design from the University of Kansas.
Wilbat was fortunate to be able to study under numerous well-known glassblowers, including Joel Myers, Dan Dailey, William Carlson, and Vernon Brejcha. Yet his own unique style, which he describes as a combination of Old World Glass and contemporary design, reflects his love of Abstract Expressionist painting.