James Hayes was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he currently operates the James Hayes Art Glass Company. Hayes earned his BA in Art at Hendrix College in 1988. While attending Hendrix, he participated in a golf tournament at the Rosswood Country Club in Pine Bluff, where he hit a hole-in-one and won a car. Since he already had a car, Hayes sold the car he won and used the money to start his glassblowing business. He had taken a course in glassblowing at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum school and fell in love with it.
The Hayes Art Glass Company operates out of an old dairy farm and Hayes welcomes members of the public to visit and watch his glassblowing demonstrations. These demonstrations show his process as he heats the glass to 2,000 degrees as many times as needed to shape the object he desires. He then puts the glass in a 900-degree oven to prevent the glass from cooling too quickly and cracking. It is the immediacy of glassblowing that entices Hayes.
Hayes has traveled the world studying glassblowing in places ranging from Murano, Italy, to Hong Kong. He has created and installed the Arkansas State Capitol Christmas tree topper, as well as designed an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. His work is found in numerous public and private collections. At Hendrix, his 220-piece chandelier hangs in the Burrow at the Student Life and Technology Center.