Michael Nicholas, director of Sonoran Glass Art Academy, and glass artist Tom Philabaum preview the Tucson Glass Festival.

Tucson has become a crucible for creativity in the art of making glass, and interested residents can see the city's remarkable display this week, when international glass artists gather to show their craft at the Tucson Glass Festival.

Tucson's trailblazer is Tom Philabaum, who has blown glass here for decades and devoted much of his time to training a new generation of artists. He joins the Arizona Illustrated studio along with Michael Nicholas, who directs the Sonoran Glass Art Academy, to preview the conference.

Originally scheduled for Spring of 2010, the conference was canceled following Arizona's passage of SB 1070. Now Philabaum and Nicholas expect artists from both sides of the border, with proceeds committed to training the next generation of glass artists.