Michael Nourot was one of the original 16 students at the acclaimed Pilchuck Glass School during the summer and winter of 1971. As part of this group, working with Jaimie Carpenter and Dale Chihuly, Michael designed and built the first furnace and structure at Pilchuck.
Nourot graduated from California College of Arts & Crafts in June 1971, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. His teachers there were Ruth Tamura and Marvin Lipofsky. At the time, the school's glass studio was off campus. CCAC now has one of the best teaching facilities for hot and cold glass working. After graduation, Michael Nourot worked at the famed Venini Factory on the island of Murano, near Venice. There he was on a team which included Checho Ongaro who later went on to acclaim as a symposium leader in America at Pilchuck and elsewhere. The glass works which Mr. Nourot founded upon his return to the States in March, 1973, was based largely upon the techniques used in Italy.
Michael's Light Opera, in Ghirardelli Square, in San Francisco, began operating in the Spring of 1973. At this time the glass pieces made by Michael were given over half for the rent and the other half went into storage.
Later that year, Ann Corcoran joined the studio. Ann was new to California when she began glass studies at the California College of Arts & Crafts. She had attended the Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Crafts from 1970 to 1972. There she received an A.A.S. degree in Weaving and Textile Design. At CCAC Ann studied under Marvin Lipofsky. In August, 1974, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In the winter of 1973-74, Ann Corcoran began working with Michael Nourot in the San Francisco studio.
During the summer of 1974, the pair decided that the studio in the rear of the gallery, owned by Mr. Eric Sinizer, was proving too restrictive to allow further experiments in colored glass. Furnaces there were limited to ones which simply melted "cullet" or previously used glass. In Benicia, a small California town on the periphery of the metropolitan Bay Area, Mr. Nourot secured a large industrial space to build a larger glass works.
In August of 1974, Benicia became the new home of the Nourot Studio. In November of that year the partners were married. Business flourished and new workers were added. From 1974 to 1987 the studio was in a formative phase. In 1987, an important commission provided a great deal of publicity and spurred growth. Pope John Paul II's commission for 1,200"ciboria" for the Mass at Candlestick Park in December 1987 came at a time when the studio wanted to move to a larger building. Although, the move to the 1954 vintage Yuba Research and Development Building was just across the street from the former studio, it was a move into the next century for the glass works, which previously was housed in a metal sided warehouse. In the new space, together with Smyers Glass, a sparkling new gallery space was built, with new furnaces and a blow room.
Nourot Glass Studio now enjoys many distinguished and notable clients, from Presidents, film makers and corporate clients. The United States Air Force commissioned Nourot to create the Solano Trophy in the spring of 1998. This perpetual award is presented to the most efficient unit within the 15th Air Force, a supply wing covering over one half of the world.
In 1999, the California State Assembly, on their sesquicentennial meeting in Benicia, California, commissioned Nourot Art Glass Studio to produce a piece for each of the Assemblymen and Assemblywomen. Benicia was once the capital of California and houses the first California State Capitol building.
These projects, which can often be for pieces which require months of research and trials, have been a source of inspiration and design growth.
Each and every piece of Nourot Glass is always made by one of the two partners, no molds are ever used. The signature on every piece of studio glass is the same now as it was in 1974: two letter code for the series, piece number, year and artist's initials.