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Taming Lightning

Jan 21, 2021

In today's podcast, I have Rusty Russo, who has been working and developing his skills in the area of Illuminated Glass Tubing for over 30 years in which he’s acquired an expert level proficiency in glass fabrication, vacuum tube processing, system design, and construction, leak detection, technical support, packaging design, and technical writing.

He’s also a Senior R+D Glass Blower for a Boston-based start-up specializing in energy-efficient inductively coupled soda-lime light bulbs.


From his beginning as a neon bender, he’s worked as a technical consultant for The EGL Co., a columnist for Signs of the Times Magazine, demonstrating artist and technical assistant for The Glass Art Society, and assistant instructor/visiting artist for various education facilities such as the Pittsburgh Glass Center, Penland School of Craft and Urban Glass.

Additionally A recognized industry authority on all phases of neon vacuum tube production. Having served as Co-Chairman of the ISA Research and Standards Committee on Neon Processing, where he co-created an internationally recognized standard for the processing of neon tubing. This provided a practical, teachable, repeatable solution to what had been a historically random intuitive process.

He currently works as a freelance technical consultant, and glass artist, conceptualizing and creating 3-dimensional sculpture using glass, light, and mixed media.

 I met Mr. Russo in the summer of  2018 during the Pittsburgh Glass Center’s first Plasma Workshop taught by Wayne Strattman and Mundy Hepburn where he assisted alongside Ander Mikkelsen. In the chaos of that class, Rusty was a grounding tether to the complexities of plasma and neon, someone who was very comfortable with meeting you at your level. He’s been such a great source of information and support in regards to troubleshooting and identifying components in the manifold, and helped provided confidence and guidance in my career development in technical consultation on several jobs.

Like many of the guests on this podcast, Rusty has a rich history and knowledge, and we barely scratch the surface of who Rusty is. Treat this as it is, an introduction, he’ll talk about the origins of his interest in neon, the influence of music and martial art on his practice and teaching philosophy, and his drive toward excellence through repetition, self-examination, and refinement.

Episode Show Notes


Intro: Boost by Joakim Karud

Intermission: Sunnyside by ONE

Outro: The Process by Lakey Inspired