Jolley has great appreciation for the hand techniques used for making glass objects that traces back to the Romans, but says “there are technical accomplishments I use to create my sculptures that though related to this long tradition of glassmaking, are in a world apart. I was at the Corning Museum in New York recently and when I spoke with a fine glassblower, well his eyes rolled into the back of his head when I started talking about things like ‘additive sculptural techniques.’”
When Jolley began working with glass in the early1970s he knew he had discovered his muse. “There is a seduction with glass. It is such a beautiful material. I was trying to use non-traditional materials for art and at that time Jackson Pollack was using industrial painting techniques and developments were happening in plastics. It’s not a stretch to say sculpting glass is as non-traditional as any of these media.”
Jolley, who grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, decided to stay in the region and study glassmaking at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. The influences on Jolley’s work are a complex amalgam of not only where he studied, but where he grew up, the social fabric of the times, and sheer serendipity.