Cheryl Saban is many things: a mother, an accomplished philanthropist and — as you’ve probably guessed if you’ve taken a peek around this site — a supremely talented glassblower. She fell in love with the art of glassblowing a decade ago, and since then has worked to turn her passion into a business that reflects both her creativity and her compassion. Like her hand-blown glasses, vases, bowls and accessories, Cheryl lives life in full color. She believes in beauty, joy and leaving the world a little bit brighter than she found it.
We sat down with the artist to get a peek into her colorful world — from the hand-blown glass she always has on hand to how she leverages her talent to give back to her community.
When did you first try glassblowing?
About 10 years ago — I was curious, and just took a class. That one class was all it took. I was hooked.
What is your favorite piece of hand-blown glass to make?
There is no favorite. I love them all! But I do like to experiment with new shapes and colors.
How long does it take to produce one of your glasses or vases?
It can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending upon the vessel and color applications.
How many glasses do you think you’ve broken over the years?
Ha! A few…but not as many as you’d imagine. It’s normal for some breakage, and there are numerous reasons why it could happen — and every glassblower experiences it. But the look on our faces when a piece cracks or suddenly breaks is always one of surprise!
What glass do you always have on hand?
What is your favorite drink to fill that glass with?
Water with a slice of lemon!
What milestone in your artistry are you currently working towards?
Perfecting my goblets or stemmed glassware. These are tough to master, and it can takes years of practice to get it right.
Which glassblower (living or dead) do you most admire?
Describe in five words why giving back to the community is important to you.
Compassion, understanding, caring, empathy and humanity.
What are your favorite ways to give back?
Time. Talent. Treasure. [For me this means] volunteering to help make meals for senior citizens and gravely ill individuals with the amazing organization Project Angel Food, making glassware items for charity auctions (for the Children’s Hospital, for example), donating necessities to homeless shelters and, finally, giving monetary gifts.
Tell us about a time when philanthropy changed your life.
At one point in my life, I was a single working mother of two. I made enough money to pay our rent and buy food, but had very little left over for health care — just enough to pay for my daughter’s medical exams. There was nothing left over for me. I became very ill and needed care. I had no option but to go to the free community clinic. It nearly broke my spirit to need to ask for free services. I showed up at the clinic assuming everyone would see the word “loser” written on my forehead. But I was wrong. I was treated with dignity and kindness, and I never forgot it.
Many years after that event, I had remarried [and] my financial situation was vastly different. My husband and I decided to give a large — very large donation — to the LA Free Clinic, and now that clinic bears our name. This was a major moment in my life. You can be sure that when I spoke at the dedication of the new building, there were tears of gratitude rolling down my face.
Which living person do you most admire? Why?
My husband. Because he is the most courageous, kind, intelligent and loving person I know.
When and where are you the happiest?
I am happy all the time, every day, because I am breathing! I’m grateful for every day of my life, and I don’t take it for granted. I’m a nature girl at heart. My kids think I have a different sort of smile on my face when I’m high in the mountains, skiing, and the same goes for when I’m in a kayak on the ocean. I love the connection with nature — it reminds me of my parents. They gave me and my siblings this gift, to love and respect and enjoy the natural world around us.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Raising four children. I am blessed to be their mother — and incredibly proud of all of them. It’s not really an achievement so much as it is a life journey. Aside from my family, I’m most proud of working hard to continue my education and earning a Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 55.
Name three books everyone should read.
- “What I Know for Sure,” by Oprah Winfrey
- “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
- “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz
What is your motto?
Wake up, get going, be grateful and do my best.