WOOLWICH TWP. — Woolwich Township resident Cat Burns was at her family’s home in December 2019 when she received the invitation to appear in Season 2 of the Netflix reality series “Blown Away.”
“I got off a Skype call and basically burst through the doors, jumping and screaming at my mom,” recalled Cat, a 2012 Salem Community College glass art graduate who had submitted a video and an application to the show’s producers several weeks before. “I legally wasn’t allowed to tell anyone but everyone knew that I had applied and got a call back, so it was pretty obvious I had good news.
“I then made my younger sisters help me pick every outfit since my usual clothes are burnt t-shirts, and I didn’t need them making fun of me for the rest of my life for dressing like trash on international television,” she continued. “I finished teaching a weeklong intensive in Corning [at The Corning Museum of Glass in New York] in January  and got on a plane the day it finished.”
Burns arrived in Hamilton, Ontario for the taping, joining nine other elite artists. “There were something like 500 applicants and 10 spots,” said Cat. “I didn’t really think anything of it until I was on a plane to Canada, like, ‘Oh, this is real.’”
In “Blown Away,” talented artists “turn up the heat in glassblowing sculpture challenges for the chance to win $60,000 in prizes and the title of champion,” according to the Netflix website. The second season’s 10 episodes premiered on Jan. 22.
SCC adjunct instructor Alexander Rosenberg appeared in Season 1 and serves as a guest judge in the new season. However, Burns was prohibited from approaching Alex (or anyone else) for tips before Season 2 taped.
“Glass-wise, I didn’t do anything to prepare except do some strength training because I knew most of the assistants were students so I would have to do most of the heavy lifting,” she said.
The self-described defiant artist — who worked for Corning in various capacities for five years, including stints on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship — described why she took a leap by applying for “Blown Away.”
“I have high-functioning anxiety so I made a promise to myself long ago that if an opportunity ever scared me, I had to at least try to go for it,” Burns said. “I went into the show a production glass worker with the least formal education and the least glass experience of anyone there, and I came out of it a fulfilled artist.
“I was critiqued from some of the most renowned people in their fields, I learned and grew from their crits, and at the end of the day I left totally proud of what I accomplished. I became a braver artist because of it, I became more sure of myself.”
Cat dismissed the idea that “Blown Away” has made her a reality TV star. “I’m definitely not going to become a celebrity over this,” she said. “I personally don’t think it’s a big deal because I just did it for fun. I’m just gonna keep playing with my horses and blowing glass.”
Burns now lives in Corning, N.Y., where she creates her exquisite art and sells it online at catburnsglass.com and wholesale through other stores. “In non-COVID times, I would also travel as a teacher,” she added.
And what does the artist look forward to the most each day? “As my own boss, I get to spend most of my day in pajamas with my dog, making absolute bank while dancing in my studio,” she said. “I get to decide when to take cookie breaks, when to take vacation, and I get all the mental health days I need.”