Glass Grapes: Tian Yi Chang

Tian Yi Chang comes from a long tradition of glassblowing.  Born in 1962, Tian is now retired from her company and makes glass grapes for collectors, teahouses, and the government, at her leisure.  Tian works out of her home, an upscale apartment in a complex that replaced the 300-year-old hutong where her ancestors lived.  Her Mongolian ancestors founded a glass store 200 years ago, during the Qing Dynasty; they invented the technique Tian uses today, which has been passed down through eight generations of glassblowers.  For now, this technique remains within her family.  Though the tradition was once passed down to both sons and daughters, it was eventually only passed on to daughters – who had to remain unmarried – in order to keep the tradition within blood relatives.