Eli Zilke was born and raised in Benton Harbor, Michigan. His glass interest was sparked on a family vacation where one of the destinations was murano. At age twelve he started in the Fired Up! program at Water Street Glassworks, which focuses on training skills in glassblowing and the business of art. After five years in the program, Eli was hopelessly hooked on glass and was hired at Water Street Glassworks as a studio technition and glassblowing instructor. This is where his passion lies today in teaching the same program that ignited his passion almost ten years ago.