Tom Philabaum studied glassblowing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Harvey Littleton, who is considered the father of the American Studio Glass Art Movement. After graduating with a Masters in Glassblowing, Philabaum built his first glassblowing studio in 1975 in downtown Tucson, Arizona, and opened a gallery in 1982. The following year, 1983, the Glass Arts Society (G.A.S.) conference took place in Tucson, with Tom as the liason for the local glass community. In 1997, the G.A.S. conference returned to Tucson with Tom as Co-Chair, and Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio again being a major venue for demos and exhibitions.
From 1985 – 2020, Tom and his wife Dabney operated Philabaum Glass Gallery in a transformed Tastee Freez restaurant. From 1985 – 2018, Tom produced all of his blown work out of the adjacent studio. He officially retired from glassblowing in December of 2018, though he continues to paint and fuse glass, as he will never stop ‘making’.