Where to Learn How to Bend Neon Glass Signs
There are a few neon bending schools and programs out there. These neon schools and programs are scattered throughout the continental United States. You will notice the geographical diversity while perusing this list of neon bending education programs.
Learn How to Bend Neon in Washington
Are you from the Seattle area? The Western Neon School of Art is a brand new, cutting edge art school, formed just recently in 2017. One interesting beginner-level class, entitled “bending in 3-D,” is with artist Michael Fletcher. Fletcher discusses his own process, as well as general symbolic meaning when it comes to neon art. Students will, of course, be bending neon in this entry-level class. There is no prerequisite for this class, and at under $400 (materials included), it looks like a good deal.
Other neon classes at the Western Neon School of Art include Light-Based Media (introduction and intermediate), and a course with another neon artist, whose name is Kacie Lees. Kacie’s course is called “Making Water.” Kacie has an intimate history with the art world as well; she has been featured in Reader’s Digest and Plasma 4 Magazine.
Wanting one on one training? Neon Sign Worx offers students classes to suit their needs. Matthew Severson has been a professional neon bender for the last 25 years, designing and creating custom neon signs. Matthew shares his techniques with both novice and seasoned craftspeople, providing hands-on insights to learning the intricate skills required to make neon art. Students wanting to learn the glass bending tradition or those looking for in depth training for a career in the neon sign industry learn the history. safety and science behind the art of neon.
Learn How to Bend Neon in California
Where else can you learn how to bend neon? Check out Lili Lakich Studio if you’re in the Los Angeles area.
Lili Lakich, born in 1944, is a famous artist who dabbled in several different art forms, including neon sculpture and feminist art. Her neon art has been exhibited around the world, including Japan, France, and America.
Her neon classes take place at her studio in L.A. It’s a neon workshop called “Zero to Neon in 8 Weeks.” In Lili Lakich’s neon workshop, you’ll learn the history of neon, methods of getting your ideas into physical form, how to make different neon colors using different gases, how to use transformers and hardware, how to wire safely, and much more.
Learn How to Bend Neon in the Midwest
Then there’s the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center. In addition to neon education, this fascinating little institution offers blacksmithing, enameling, metal casting, welding, encaustic, jewelry, and other courses. As of this writing, the CAFC only has two classes at this time: introduction to neon 1 and introduction to neon 2. The pricing is fairly cheap at $240 for tuition and $65 for materials.
But this isn’t the only place in the Minnesota where you can learn how to bend neon. If you’re in the midwest, you will want to check this next one out too.
The Minnesota Center for Glass Arts, or FOCI-MCGA, is what it sounds like: an art school with a special focus on glass. What’s interesting about this school is that you can learn more about glass art while learning how to bend neon. These skills will complement each other very well!
FOCI-MCGA’s studio offers a hot glass studio, a cold glass studio, a kiln shop, a torch shop, and neon shops. However, if neon education is all you’re after, then Minnesota’s Center for Glass Arts may not be the best fit for you. Their neon courses offered are the same as those in Chicago: Introduction to Neon 1 and 2.
Learn How to Bend Neon in the Northeast
There are several places to learn the art of neon bending if you live in the East. First, there’s Brooklyn Glass, which offers One Day Neon (an introduction to neon creation), and 8 Week Neon Lettering (featuring education in a neon workshop with full access to neon materials). Brooklyn Glass also offers private lessons, which makes Brooklyn Glass stand out in the neon learning world.
At Urban Glass, another Brooklyn site, students can learn about bending glass tubing for neon letters in Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, a six-week class. Prospective neon students can also check out Introduction to Neon Letters. New classes are usually listed 2 months before the start of the semester.
If you’re in upstate New York, check out Just Neon Sign Company in Utica. Be aware that the Just Neon Sign Company is not a school, but a neon business! This comes with certain advantages – as a successful business, Just Neon can offer insider insight into how a neon business is run. Just Neon’s classes are not cheap; they offer a one-day program for $500, A three-day program for $1500, and a six-week program for $7,500 with “intense immersion” that, on top of the craft education includes “servicing, business practices, pricing, and equipment needs.” If you are intent on running a neon business, Just Neon Sign Company might just be the right place for your neon education.
Last, but not least, if you’re near Nutley, New Jersey, check out Random Neon. Random Neon holds neon classes the last weekend of every month! You can check out these neon classes from 10:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening. These neon classes have a maximum capacity of just 3 special neon students, so make sure you call ahead! And pack a lunch, too: you and your classmates will get a short lunch break around 1:00pm.
Other locations offering Neon Workshops
- Museum of Neon Art - Glendale, CA
- Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ
- The Crucible - Oakland, CA
- Lightwriters Glass Studio - Northbrook, IL
- Chrysler Museum of Art - Norfolk, VA
- Neon Work Shops - West Yorkshire, UK
- Fishtail Neon School - Brighton, UK
Don't see a neon workshop near you, but still want to learn the craft? Check with a neon sign shop in your area and see if there is a bender willing to share his skill.
Thanks for reading, and happy bending!