Info

Talking Out Your Glass podcast

As editor of Glass Art magazine from 1987 to March 2019, Shawn Waggoner has interviewed and written about multitudes of the world’s greatest artists working glass in the furnace, torch, and on the table. Rated in iTunes News and Noteworthy in 2018, Talking Out Your Glass continues to evolve, including interviews with the nation’s finest borosilicate artists making both pipes and sculpture on the torch. Other current topics include how to work glass using sustainable practices and how artists address the topics of our times such as climate change, the political chasm, and life in the age of technology.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Talking Out Your Glass podcast
2024
March
February
January


2023
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2022
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2021
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 1

Your Podcast Source for Interviews and Information on

Hot, Warm and Cold Glass!

www.glassartmagazine.com

Mar 1, 2024

Jessica Loughlin’s work is characterized by a strict reductive sensibility and restricted use of color. Fusing kiln formed sheets of opaque and translucent glass together in flat panels or in thin, geometric compositions and vessels, she alludes to shadow, reflection and refraction. Loughlin’s work is influenced by the flat landscapes and salt lakes of South Australia, and the recurring motif of the mirage appears in much of her work. Each piece makes its own poetic statement. 

My work investigates space, seeing distance and understanding how wide-open spaces, particularly of the Australian landscape, affect us. I am fascinated by the unreachable space. The view we look upon, but can never reach. In this minimal landscape, all elements are stripped back, light becomes the landscape, and I am left looking at space, the space between here.…and there. This viewed distance is a place we can never reach, never get to, for as we move towards it, it moves away from you. Is this a real place or is it a projected space of the imagination. My work does not aim to represent this landscape directly but rather induce a state of looking inward and outward simultaneously.”  

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Loughlin is a graduate of the Canberra School of Art under the tutelage of late Stephen Procter. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass, the National Gallery of Australia, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh GB, and the Musee de Design et d’Arts Appliques Contemporains in Lausanne, Switzerland. A studio artist for over 20 years, Loughlin has exhibited both nationally and internationally. In 2020, she was only the second Australian to have work selected as a finalist in the Loewe Craft Prize. In 2018, she was awarded the Fuse Glass Prize, and in 2004 and 2007, the Tom Malone Art Prize. She is represented by Sabbia Gallery, Sydney, Australia, and Caterina Tognon, Venice, Italy.

A committed and passionate artist who is highly regarded both in Australia and internationally, Loughlin combines her thoughtful and instinctual approach with extraordinary technical skills. With a gentle color palette of soft muted hues, her work often explores ideas of evaporation, space and distance, all inherent in the Australian landscape.

Loughlin’s work was on view in late 2023 in a solo exhibition near | far at Sabbia Gallery, Sydney, and her piece of light is on national tour as part of the Jamfactory Icon series, accompanied by a monograph of her art Jessica Loughlin: from here published by Wakefield Press. In 2024, Loughlin was selected for and will participate in the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia, March 29 through June 2.

 

Feb 16, 2024

Apollo 8, which launched on December 21, 1968, was the first mission to take humans to the moon and back. While the crew did not land on the moon’s surface, the flight was an important prelude to a lunar landing, testing the flight trajectory and operations getting there and back. Capt. James A Lovell, Apollo 8 astronaut, shared his memories of that historic mission: “Then, looking up I saw it, the Earth, a blue and white ball, just above the lunar horizon, 240,000 miles away…I put my thumb up to the window and completely hid the Earth. Just think, over five billion people, everything I ever knew was behind my thumb…I began to question my own existence. How do I fit in to what I see?”

Inspired by this wonderment and interest in perspective, glass artist Josh Simpson embarked on his own exploration of the cosmos. Born on August 17, 1949 and educated at Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York (1972), much of Simpson’s career in glass has been dedicated to communicating his fascination with the earth and its role as our planet, first through entertaining demonstrations for middle schoolers, then with art lovers worldwide. He has enthusiastically shared his glass art in much the same way the astronauts shared their experiences – with any man, woman or child whose heart fills with excitement just thinking of the possibilities.

Since the 1980s, Simpson has been hiding his glass Planets all over our Earth. In 2000 he launched the Infinity Project, which invites people around the world to hide Planets in exotic, mysterious, and sometimes even seemingly mundane – but personally meaningful – locations.

Simpson’s space-inspired glass art includes Planets, vases, platters, and sculpture. The artist has dedicated more than 50 years to inventing new glass formulas and making unique objects that embody his fascination with color, form, light, pattern, complexity, and the working of the universe. His iconic Planets evoke imaginary worlds that might exist in distant undiscovered galaxies. His New Mexico Glass suggests star-filled night skies and swirling blue seas, while Corona Glass evokes deep-space images captured by the Hubble Telescope. 

Simpson’s work has been exhibited in the White House and numerous international museums. Select pieces are currently on permanent display at the Corning Museum of Glass, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, Yale University Art Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and many more.

Says Simpson: “I am moved by the beauty of the night sky and other astronomical phenomena. Physics and cosmology fascinate me, as does high temperature chemistry, powered flight, and all things mechanical. I am mesmerized by color, form, contrast, iridescence, tessellating patterns, and complexity.”

Located in the rural hills of Western Massachusetts, Simpson’s studio can be found in a converted dairy barn beside his home. Every night, the last thing he does is walk from the house to his studio to check the furnaces. Seeing an aurora borealis, watching a storm develop down the valley, or looking at the sky on a perfect summer night, compels him to translate some of the wonder of the universe into his glass. This process doesn’t happen in any planned way, but gradually and unpredictably. He never tries to replicate what he sees around him, and in fact often doesn’t recognize the source of inspiration until someone points it out later. 

Simpson states: “Molten glass consists of sand and metallic oxides combined with extraordinary, blinding heat. The result is a material that flows like honey. When it’s hot, glass is alive! It moves gracefully and inexorably in response to gravity and centripetal force. It possesses an inner light and transcendent radiant heat that make it simultaneously one of the most rewarding and one of the most frustrating materials for an artist to work with. Most of my work reflects a compromise between the molten material and me; each finished piece is a solidified moment when we both agree.”

In his most recent book, Josh Simpson 50 Years of Visionary Glass, 500 beautiful photos and informative (and humorous) narration by the artist, reveals the evolution of Simpson’s evocative glass art over the past 50 years. In-depth looks at his several signature series and experimental works illustrate how the artist has continually explored new ways to express—in glass—his fascination with outer space, the natural world, and the workings of the universe. Text and photo spreads narrate the story of Simpson’s glass, details of his life and process, and his contributions within the craft world. Text by experts in the glass world, including William Warmus, Tina Oldknow, Nezka Pfeifer, and others, supplies additional views. In addition, strategically placed comments from numerous museum curators, along with insights from astrophysicists and space flight professionals, present a unique perspective on the meanings and broad appeal of his unique glass.

From playing the spoons, to winning story slams and flying high performance planes to the wrong number that resulted in him marrying astronaut Cady Coleman – enjoy this fascinating conversation with Josh Simpson.

 

 

Feb 2, 2024

Wesley Fleming brings the fantastic realism of the microcosmos to life in glass. An ambassador for smaller denizens of the earth, his passion for nature sparks awe and curiosity in others. Growing up in the countryside, his favorite pastime was exploring beneath logs and rocks in the woods or reading science fiction and comic books. Hence the natural world and his own imagination became his muse.

Says Fleming: “I hope to rekindle awe and curiosity for nature with my fantastic realism. I’ve focused more than two decades honing my flameworking skills and trying to capture the essence of actual species with intricate detail of tiny stamen or antennae. Today, I conjure plants, animals and mystical beings by merging the fantastical with the real through choice of color palette and referencing familiar archetypes. Regardless of the end result, I love the alchemical potential of sculpting glass – a brittle and cold substance transformed by fire into a pliable and molten material.”

In 2001, Fleming began working with glass, learning via apprenticeship under the tutelage of Italian maestros Vittorio Costantini and Lucio Bubacco in Venice, Italy. He subsequently gained valuable experience working for Josh Simpson and the MIT Glass Lab. His work has been included in numerous publications, exhibited around the United States and included in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass, Kobe Lampwork Museum, Tacoma Museum of Glass and Racine Art Museum.

Recently, Fleming was commissioned by Wes Anderson to make glass flowers, which were animated by a studio in London for his 2023 movie Asteroid City. Along with his wife, Rebecca, the artist demonstrated his techniques at Denizli Glass Bienali in Denizli, Turkey, where she played her composed pieces on the cello while Fleming worked at the torch. In March 2020, his first solo museum exhibit was scheduled to open at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont. Sadly, opening day the museum was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

Says Fleming: “Insects have been my main focus for many years, but recently I have been very inspired by the Blaschka Glass Flowers at Harvard and have been working on developing my plants and flowers. This was what was so exciting for me about the Brattleboro exhibit – that I was given trust and free rein to make my new passion and to focus on local wildflowers, which I see on the regular hikes I do around my home.”

In 2024, Fleming will co-teach “Bugs, Figures, Plants, & Beyond” with Emilio Santini at Penland School of Crafts, April 28 – May 3. He will also co-teach “Collaborative Soft Glass Sculpture” with Michael Mangiafico at Touchstone Center for Crafts, August 5 -9 .

Jan 19, 2024

Physically and metaphorically Robin and Julia Rogers put their minds, hearts and hands together to create sculptural works in glass – their chosen material because of its inherent qualities of luminosity, viscosity, and seductive flow. Their inspiration is drawn from the natural world, personal experience, family life, music, psychology, and science.

Robin and Julia state: “Complex and mystifying, the human mind drives us, but the subtle inner workings remain, to certain extent, unknown. Delving into the psyche, our work explores the human mind to reveal a metaphorical interior of ideas, emotions, and mystery. Floating in the vast sea of our own thought we are alone. This solitude, both deeply haunting and beautiful, is ours to contemplate, conquer, and call our own. Our minds never stop imagining the possibilities of what can be explored, discovered, shared, and executed.”

In their series, Architecture of the Mind, heads are turned into buildings whose history and occupancy is contemplated. Each building has its own unique story, a background different from the one living next door. Community is formed, despite the differences, allowing life to thrive in this modern, fast-paced world. Thoughts from day-to-day life, memories, or even multiple personalities are reflected in these works.

Animalia is also a driving and important theme in the narrative of the Rogers’ work. Since the advent of human expression, animals have been ever present. The artists feel that animals have a certain wisdom and intuition that brings alignment with the natural world. There is something to be learned from the animal spirit; especially in today’s fast paced digital life where it is easy to forget that we, ourselves, are inseparable from nature.

Human Hybrids (Bioengineered) is a series of anthropomorphic humans, where animal and human DNA have been melded together. Imagine the possibilities of a not- so-distant future, where rapid breakthroughs in genetic research, advances in molecular biology, and new reproductive technologies, allow scientists to manipulate human DNA at the gene level to cure inheritable diseases. In this plausible future, parents can choose which of their own genes to share with their children and which to omit. One can even imagine how animal genes could be introduced to give heightened senses and new abilities to these superhuman species. 

Discovering how to translate their ideas into glass can be both challenging and rewarding. After scale drawings are made, Robin and Julia decide who will make which parts of the sculpture and hot work begins. Once all the parts are made, they work with a skilled team of assistants for the final assembly. The finished glass is often combined with other materials such as fur, wood, and steel to complete the sculpture.

Currently, Robin and Julia both work at the Chrysler Museum of Art, where Robin is the Glass Studio Program Director and Julia is the Higher Education and Outreach Coordinator. They met in a small hot glass studio in Western Montana in 2001 at a glass shop called Cloud Cap Glass. As their friendship grew, their glass practices began to overlap. They both became part owners of the studio and worked together, operating the small business and creating glass works.

In pursuit of Master of Fine Art degrees, the couple decided to leave their beloved Montana in 2005. They re-envisioned their glass studio and created a trailer-mounted portable shop. With their tools, dogs and one-year-old son, they set out for Southern Illinois. Following professional opportunities, the glassy family has lived in Carbondale, Illinois; Bowling Green, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Norfolk, Virginia.

In 2010, after nearly 10 years of working together and assisting with each other’s work, the duo decided to start creating artwork collaboratively. In these bodies of work, every step of the process, from conception to installing, is completed by both artists. This method of working has led to the creation of artwork that Julia and Robin are excited to make and proud to exhibit. Through the synergy of this collaboration, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. 

The couple is currently working on new pieces to be shown in the Habatat International Exhibition in April 2024 at Habatat Gallery in Michigan. They are also starting a collaboration with Fabiano Zanchi, teaching at UrbanGlass in June, and will be the featured artists at the International Glass Symposium in Novy Bor, Czechia in October. Additionally, the studio at the Chrysler Museum of Art, where they make most of their work, is currently tripling in size. Phase 1 of the project ends in May 2024 and phase 2 will be completed by the end of 2024.

 

 

Jan 11, 2024

Talking Out Your Glass podcast kicks off 2024 with our first episode of Season 9! This  fascinating panel discussion on flameworking features four of the technique’s most well-known artists: Paul Stankard, Carmen Lozar, Dan Coyle aka coylecondenser and Trina Weintraub. At different points in their careers, these four artists compare and contrast their journeys and experiences working glass behind the torch. 

Considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, Paul Stankard’s work is represented in more than 75 museums around the world. Over his 52-year artistic journey, he has received two honorary doctorate degrees, an honorary associate’s degree, and many awards within the glass community, including the Masters of the Medium Award from Smithsonian’s The James Renwick Alliance and the Glass Art Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the UrbanGlass Award—Innovation in a Glassworking Technique.  

Stankard’s current exhibition From Flame to Flower: The Art of Paul J. Stankard can be seen at the Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey, now through February 4. A documentary film titled Paul J. Stankard: Flower and Flame by award-winning filmmaker Dan Collins, premiers on January 31. On March 16, the film will be shown at Salem County Community College, Carney’s Point, New Jersey, at the International Flameworking Conference, presented there by Collins.

Born in 1975, Carmen Lozar lives in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, where she maintains a studio and is a member of the art faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University. She has taught at Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Craft, Pittsburgh Glass School, Appalachian Center for Crafts, The Chrysler Museum, and the Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey. She has had residencies at the Corning Museum of Glass and Penland School of Craft. Although she travels abroad to teach and share her love for glass – most recently to Turkey, Italy, and New Zealand – she always returns to her Midwestern roots. Lozar is represented by the Ken Saunders Gallery in Chicago, and her work is included in the permanent collection at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin.

Besides continuing her work at Illinois Wesleyan University, Lozar will be teaching workshops at UrbanGlass, June 4 – 8, 2024, and at Ox Bow School of Craft, Saugatuck, Michigan, August 4 – 10, 2024.

Menacing monkeys. Peeled bananas. Bad-tempered bears. Uniquely original Munnies. Daniel S. Coyle’s whimsical, toy-inspired aesthetic in concert with mind-blowing skills on the torch have earned the artist a hefty 116K following on Instagram. The artist recently celebrated 12 years of being a full-time pipe maker. Coyle’s work has been displayed in galleries around the world, and has been seen in print and web publications including ViceHuffington Post, NY Times, and in the books This Is A Pipe and his self-published Munny Project book. Now residing in Western Massachusetts, he works alongside some of the state’s top pipe makers.

Coyle’s 2024 events include: Community Bonfire (Maine), January 27; Michigan Glass Project, June 21 – 23: two-week intensive class at Corning Studios, Corning, New York, June 24 – July 5; Parlay Philly in September TBA; and Bad Boyz Do Basel 3 (Miami), September TBA.

Creating playful objects and curious scenes inspired by childhood memories and dreams, Caterina Weintraub uses glass, a fragile and heavy material, to recreate iconic toys or re-imagine personal memories that evoke a sense of sentiment, wonder and discomfort. She utilizes a variety of techniques to create sculptures and installations in her Boston-based studio, Fiamma Glass. From intricate torch work to large-scale kiln castings and hot blown pieces, she chooses the process best suited to realize her vision.

In 2024, Weintraub will participate in Habatat’s Glass Coast Weekend, Sarasota, Florida, February 1 – 4; Glass52, International Glass Show, Habatat Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan, May 5 – September 6; and the International Glass Show, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, Indiana, December 2 – February 18. 

Enjoy this panel discussion about how these four artists crafted careers using the techniques and appeal of flameworking and where the process is headed into the next decade and beyond. 

 

 

Dec 16, 2023

Master Glass Painter at Judson Studios in Los Angeles, California, Indre Bileris earned a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design and became involved in stained glass conservation during that same time at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity’s conservation program. Having been a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters from 2007 to 2012, the artist arrived at the Judson Studios with an extensive body of design and painting work for liturgical, educational, and residential installations. Her hand can be seen in much of the painted work that comes out of the studio today.

As a replication painter since 1996, Bileris has learned her craft from masters no longer bound by earthly constraints. Their work remains, part legacy, part teacher, and in learning how to recreate their style and imagery she is now able to incorporate elements of each master into her own artwork. The artist has created new work and done replication painting in equal portions, with a side of autonomous work made for art shows and donations to the American Glass Guild (AGG) auction. With a Masters in education, for a time she countered her solitary life as a glass painter by working with young children as an art teacher.

Bileris began her training as a stained glass replication painter while still attending and completing undergraduate work at Parsons School of Design. As a funded Kress Fellow and conservation apprentice at St. Ann’s for Restoration and the Arts, Inc. in Brooklyn Heights, New York, she recreated numerous damaged or destroyed painted works. Following her apprenticeship she did internships at Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass Studio, England, and the Cologne, Germany Cathedral Studio.

Early in her career Bileris was employed by Jack Cushen Studio Restoration, East Marion, New York, to replicate the painting and staining of The Four Winds stained glass window for the Stanford White Cottage, Tick Hall, Montauk, New York. Some of her other freelance projects for Cushen include painting and staining work for the Church of the Ascension, Fifth Ave, New York, and painting two figures in a Tiffany Studios window (circa 1900), which was in the possession of a private collector. 

“As a replicator, it’s not about you, but the people who came before. It’s detective work. You have to figure out what the artist did. It’s never gotten any easier. Now that I know more I realize how challenging it is to do. Part of what I love about stained glass is that it’s handed off from generation to generation. Replication allows you to be trained by artists who are no longer with us.”

Her career as a replication painter has allowed Bileris to work on prestigious commissions with many of the best stained glass studios in the country. She co-designed and created watercolor sketches and cartoons for Venturella Studio, Union Square, New York, for the studio’s 68 square feet of designed and fabricated stained glass for The Ivy Club, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. These windows commemorate the inclusion of women into the club through the imagery of migrating butterflies and ivy. Another project for Venturella Studio involved designing and painting windows for a synagogue in Maple Glenn, Pennsylvania, home to 70 windows created by Benoît Gilsoul. 

Like many glass painters, Bileris’ process begins with a trace and matte. She started out working with gum and water for tracing, but eventually switched to clove oil because it’s much more forgiving and flexible. In 2013, Bileris  was awarded an AGG scholarship to study glass painting with Jonathan Cooke at Wheaton Village, Milleville, New Jersey. Cooke served a traditional apprenticeship at York Minster and started his own business in 1987. His book Time and Temperature was published early in 2013.

Bileris’ projects have included residential commissions, such as her work for a private wine cellar on Oyster Bay, Long Island. This commission included four windows: a plated window that mimics tile patterns and displays an iron work pattern on a separate piece of plated glass; a pair of sandblasted, painted, and stained glass windows that feature animals drinking wine; and a tessellating pattern window also featuring wildlife. “Those windows feel very much like me,” she states.

As a submission for the Corning Museum of Glass’ New Glass Review, Bileris created her autonomous work The Show as well as a nursery window based on her love of English illustration. Fabricated at Venturella Studios, The Show was included in AGG’s 2011 members’ exhibition. 

“It’s challenging to find an in-road to doing painted windows as personal artistic expression. Stained glass is not considered art because there are a lot of works out there taken directly from pattern books. The ecclesiastic tie reminds many people of houses of worship rather than galleries. And stained glass is dependent on light and environment and somehow is too crafty or pretty or religious. But it fits me. I want to keep growing and see if I can really become an artist in this medium, to be brave enough to go beyond being an able illustrator on glass. Georgia O’Keeffe said: ‘Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.’” 

At the end of 2015, Bileris left New York and took a position as lead painter at Judson Studios in LA. Though she has never prioritized showing gallery work, thanks to Judson Studios the artist exhibited in a group LA Art show, and a small work was included in the 2023 show through the SGAA. She is starting work for a group show at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton, California, this upcoming year and may be working with Narcissus Quagliata on his online class in 2024. Earlier this year, Bileris taught a two-week course at the Vilnius Academy of Art In Lithuania, which was a dream come true as she is the child of Lithuanian immigrants. “I was born in the US but spoke Lithuanian as my first language, so that chance basically pulled together everything I care about.”

 

Dec 1, 2023

Following her father’s passing 10 years ago, Deanna Clayton’s artwork took an unexpected turn when she found herself modeling clay into a figurative vessel rather than a decorative one. The translation of the clay form into glass symbolized glass’ inherent life-affirming qualities. Soft, flowing edges at the bases of these sculptures add to the sense of impermanence; electroplated copper helps to ground the figures, enhancing their presence.

Clayton states: “The inspiration for this new body of work is a true love of the life inherent in glass itself. To create a face in glass is a self-evident evocation of the material’s life quality. Creating abstracted forms in glass that become believable as life is what is truly inspiring. This is what continues my quest to experiment and explore glass and its capabilities as an art form.”

Clayton started working with glass 35 years ago as a student in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She began as most glass artists do, by being introduced to a blow pipe and a furnace of molten glass. Her work prior to finding glass was primarily drawing and printmaking, with an emphasis on representing the human form. She earned her associates in fine arts degree at Bucks County Community College.

Wanting to continue her education in glass, Clayton chose Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, where the program taught by Henry Halem had produced some of the most successful glass artists working at the time. After two years, she moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor of fine arts degree in art history in 2002.

While attending the University of Illinois, Clayton started her own glass studio with her husband, Keith Clayton. After 10 years in Illinois, in 1995 the couple discovered beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, where they moved with their three children. The studio was known for its pate de verre technique and electroplated copper vessels – a successful source of inspiration to her for over 20 years.

Today, D.C. Studios LLC is designed to educate others in the ancient and rewarding process of pate de verre. Clayton has taught classes at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; The Cleveland Institute of Art; and Duncan McClellan Glass Project, St. Petersburg, Florida. Her work can be seen in public and private collections around the world. This year’s exhibitions included a solo exhibition, Surging Forward, at Duncan McClellan Gallery, St. Petersburg, Florida; Glass Coast Weekend, Habatat Fine Art, Sarasota, Florida; and Art Palm Beach, Mattsen Fine Art, Palm Beach, Florida. Artist awards include the 2019 Collectors Choice, 47th Annual International Glass Invitational, Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan; SAC Award, Professional Dimensions Group, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Most Unique Interpretation of a Vessel, Habatat Galleries, Boca Raton, Florida.

Says Clayton: “I love the versatility and freshness of glass as an artistic medium. The potential for expression in contemporary glass is limitless.”

 

Nov 24, 2023

Some might say that Daniel Clayman is more a sculptor using glass as his primary material than a glass artist. That is to say his sculptures would be successful from a formal point of view no matter what material they were created in. With one major exception: the play of light in Clayman’s glass art enhances the objects dramatically in comparison with how they might appear in a solid, non-translucent medium.

Born in 1957 in Lynn, Massachusetts, Clayman planned a career as a theater lighting designer, studying in the theater and dance departments at Connecticut College, eventually dropping out of college to work in the professional theater, dance and opera world. A chance class in 1980 introduced the artist to using glass as a sculptural material. In 1986, he received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and has maintained a studio in East Providence, Rhode Island since then.

​Clayman’s interests in engineering, the behavior of light, and the memory of experience, act as an impetus for much of his work. Having turned his attention to large-scale installations, he employs technology from the simplest hand tool to the latest three-dimensional modeling and production tools. Recent public projects include Rainfield, Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Media Center Atrium, exhibition dates: January 23, 2017 – January 23, 2018; and Radiant Landscape, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton Township, New Jersey, exhibition dates: May 7, 2017 – February 28, 2018.

Clayman is the recipient of several grants and awards and has had numerous one-person shows throughout the country to include the Tacoma Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. Works in glass sculpture by the artist can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco, The Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. 

An artist/educator, Clayman has taught in Japan, Israel and Australia in addition to a robust teaching schedule here in the U.S. He has been a Visiting Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design and Artist in Residence at Tyler School of Art and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He lectures frequently and teaches workshops at Penland School of Crafts, Pilchuck and The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, among others. In 2018, Clayman became the first endowed chair of glass at University of the Arts, Philadelphia. 

Clayman states: “While I moved away from a professional career pursuit in lighting design, I have never turned away from my observations of light. Using glass as my primary sculptural material, I have spent the last 20 years developing a vocabulary of forms which describe volumes of light. Over the past four years, my studio work has centered around the creation of large-scale glass castings that thematically reference the capturing of light. One of the many mysteries of light is that it refuses to reveal any of its essence until it happens to reflect on something other than itself. For instance, the headlight of a car projects (reflects) light onto objects as the viewer approaches, but not until there is a foggy mist in the air does one see the shape and arc of the beam.”

 

Nov 10, 2023

Each piece in Jack Storms’ newest line of sculptures begins with the artist’s unique and meticulously hand-crafted Infinity Core, boasting 30 times more intricacy and a mesmerizing sparkle that outshines anything you’ve seen before. Every facet reflects a world of colors, and each sculpture captures a symphony of light. 

Growing up in New Hampshire as a talented athlete and motivated student, Storms didn’t discover his passion for art until his twenties, at the end of which he earned his BA in art with a focus on studio production from Plymouth State University. During his junior year, the young artist began apprenticing at the studio of coldworking artist Toland Sand, who was combining lead crystal and dichroic glass via a cold-glass process. Eventually Storms became a strong enough sculptor to branch out on his own and in 2004 opened StormWorks Studio.

Storms’ unique cold-glass process can take up to 10 weeks. He begins at the heart of the design by creating a core of lead crystal which is cut, polished and laminated creating reflective mirrors. When wrapped in optical glass, the refraction of light as it passes through the glass art creates rainbows of hypnotic color. The process requires repetitive cutting, grinding and polishing, and relies upon Fibonacci’s theory of natural mathematics found in nature. 

States Storms: “Natural beauty is created, not manufactured. From the repetition of florets in a flower to the scales of a pineapple’s skin, Fibonacci numbers are found in the pattern of growth of every living thing in nature.” 

Both challenged and inspired by the notion that his artistic goals were impossible, early on Storms invented a cold-working lathe uniquely suited to his process. His invention offered the artist the ability to turn glass and sculpt shapes with curves and details like one would produce from a wooden medium. Early memories of studying his father’s craftsmanship on a wood lathe provided him with the blueprint for his vision. Pioneering new trails in the world of fine art has always motivated Storms. 

Seen by the world in multiple viral videos featuring his kaleidoscopic and prismatic cold-fusion glass sculptures, Storms’ pieces have also been featured in Marvel’s film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1, and the artist created a life-sized bat to commemorate Derek Jeter’s 3000th Hit. Storms’ laborious process of repetitive cutting, grinding and polishing requires intense passion and rigid self-discipline, resulting in his signature works of contemporary glass art.

Currently, Storms is developing new designs for wearable art. These wearable sculpture designs follow the same creative process and spirit as the artist’s larger, more dynamic sculptures. He says: “My design philosophy revolves around creating something that fosters a closer connection with people. I want people to have a personal item they can take with them and truly fall in love with.  I believe the future holds great promise for wearable art, and I anticipate seeing its prevalence grow in the coming years.”

Go to https://jackstorms.com?bg_ref=y1fqAS0f55for 10 percent off your Jack Storms artwork purchase! Use coupon code GLASS10.

 

Nov 3, 2023

The emitted light from a David Huchthausen sculpture is an artwork unto itself. For the last five decades plus, the artist has been captivating viewers through sculpture defined by its unique and other-worldly manipulation of light. A critic once described his work as “high tech spiritual,” an observation the artist rather liked.

Huchthausen once stated: “Creation is a continual and evolutionary process, constantly digesting and reevaluating past experiences and current perspectives. My work has always been deliberately enigmatic and mysterious. I constantly strive to generate a strange and curious quality that both tantalizes and challenges the viewer to develop his own response system. The work must have an existence of its own if it is to have any real significance.”

Huchthausen was one of the first artists of the Studio Glass Movement to emphasize cold working and fabrication techniques such as cutting, sawing, laminating, and optical polishing. Within his most recent crystal-clear geometric forms, the artist integrates complex shapes, concave lenses and intricate color panels, reflecting and refracting light as it hits the shapes and projecting colored glass patterns into the fractures and lenses below. Huchthausen’s sculptural narrative has always been enigmatic by design, challenging the viewer with its curious and unknowable quality.

Ferdinand Hampson, co-founder of Habatat Gallery, wrote: “David Huchthausen is one of an elite group of artists who have altered the history of contemporary glass.  As a Fulbright scholar, university professor and museum consultant, his achievements over the past 50 years have played a vital role in the evolution of the material into a fine art form.  

“As an architecture student at the University of Wisconsin, Huchthausen gravitated toward the sculpture department, working with welded steel, wood and found objects. In 1970 he discovered an abandoned glass furnace in the corner of an old brewery building on the Wausau campus. After six months of struggling, he learned of Harvey Littleton’s work in Madison 150 miles to the south.  Once contact had been established, Huchthausen’s career moved with rapid strides. He served as Littleton’s graduate assistant in the early 1970s, ran the Illinois State University Glass Program during Joel Myers’ sabbatical in 1976 and lectured throughout Europe as a Fulbright scholar in 1977 and 1978. During this period, he established vital links between European and American artists and galleries, organizing numerous exhibitions in both the United States and Europe. As curatorial and acquisitions consultant for the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, he conceived and developed Americans In Glass. This important series of exhibitions in 1978, 1981 and 1984 documented the evolution of American Studio Glass from its early emphasis on blown forms and hot working to the explosion of sculptural and conceptual concerns of the mid 1980s. The landmark 1984 exhibition traveled to museums across Europe and provided the first major review of any glass exhibition by Art In America.

“As an educator and art professor, Huchthausen has been a significant influence on a generation of glass artists. He was one of the first Americans to emphasize coldworking in the early 1970s.  Large sculptural constructions such as Spider’s Nest, which combined hot-worked, cast, and architectural glass elements, stand as historical landmarks of the period. Many of the specialized fabrication techniques he pioneered are widely used by other artists today.

“Throughout his career, Huchthausen has remained a strong advocate of increased aesthetic criticism of contemporary glass. His outspoken and often controversial positions have helped articulate a basis for today’s increased level of critical dialog. As an artist Huchthausen has consistently maintained a high degree of integrity in his work.  Limiting production to 12 to 15 pieces each year, he devotes several months to the development and creation of each sculpture.  Even within a specific series the images are extremely unique, furthering his evolution of the concept without letting it harden into a formula.

“Huchthausen’s background in architecture and personal fascination with primitive art and ritual, have remained strong influences over the years. He deliberately imbues his sculpture with an enigmatic quality, generating a strange and curious energy, which entices the viewer.  

“One unique aspect of Huchthausen’s sculpture is his innovative integration of glass and light, the concept that the projected images and patterns constitute an integral and inseparable component of the sculpture.  These ideas have their genesis in his large totemic forms of the early 1970s and have permeated his work to varying degrees throughout his career.  They were more fully explored in his mysterious Leitungs Scherben series of the 1980s, where transformed and altered patterns were projected with amazing clarity onto the surface beneath the piece. Huchthausen’s next body of work expanded on that foundation.

“The Adumbration and Implosion series (1991 – 1999) combine the integral color laminations that have become a trademark of his work, with massive blocks of crystal.  By juxtaposing the pristine optically polished surfaces with fractured jagged edges, Huchthausen created precariously balanced fragments alluding to a larger whole.  The colored shadow projections are directed into the heart of the piece, splashing colored light onto the fractures, radiating like translucent watercolors into pools of intense color.  Huchthausen creates an illusion of incredible complexity that appears and then vanishes as the viewer is drawn around the piece, only to reappear as the refracted image mutates and projects onto another plane.  The constantly shifting visual depth and dimensionality create new and unique views from every angle.  This use of the full 360-degree circumference of the piece sets Huchthausen apart from many artists, creating sculpture that is in perpetual visual motion.

“The Implosion sequence evolved into the Echo Chambers, which expanded on the use of hand polished lenses cut into the bases of the sculpture. These concave orbs reflected and distorted the geometric color patterns laminated onto the top of the sculpture, further enhancing the complexity of the illusionary space and creating a kaleidoscopic effect as the viewer moves.

“Huchthausen’s latest series of Spheres began after he read an article on the theoretical analysis of gravitational fields. The article described the three-dimensional universe that we perceive, as a holographic projection, generated by a two-dimensional field at the edge of infinity. The optical simplicity of the sphere permits an intimate exploration of the interior geometry. With the Spheres, Huchthausen has fully escaped the perception of three-dimensional space. His spheres have no top, bottom, up, down, front, or back; every axis point creates a unique visual perspective that is in a constant state of flux.”

Having participated in over 500 national and international exhibitions and included in 80 permanent museum collections, Huchthausen is considered a leader in both the glass specific and larger art worlds. His public collections include: The Corning Museum(NY); The Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA); The Detroit Institute of Arts (MI); The High Museum(Atlanta, GA); The Hokkaido Museum (Sapporo, Japan); The Los Angeles County Museum (CA); The Metropolitan Museum (New York, NY); The Museum of Fine Art (Dusseldorf, Germany)The Museum of Fine Arts (Lausanne, Switzerland)La Musée de Verre (Liège, Belgium); The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.); The Tacoma Art Museum (WA); and many more. 

Today, Huchthausen creates sculpture from his Seattle studio. He has also renovated several historic buildings in the city, including the 150,000-square-foot Bemis Brothers Bag Building, where studio space is leased to other artists. Over his 53 years in glass, Huchthausen’s work has been documented in many books and catalogs. He is currently working on three new books to include Classic Motor Yachts 1910-1960 and Art Deco Glass: The Huchthausen Collection, as well as a book covering the history of his own sculpture. An exhibition of the artist’s Art Deco collection has been travelling for seven years.

On his way to Cebu in the Philippines where he escapes Seattle’s gray winter, Huchthausen spoke with TOYG about when he fell in love with light, how he uses glass in the telling of his stories and why his work remains relevant and collectible into the 21st century and beyond.

 

Oct 12, 2023

From their trademark blown vessel forms to more recent large castings, Hunting Studio of Princeton, Wisconsin, uses glass and its myriad mysteries to tell stories of unapologetic beauty and celebration of color. The work of this father-son team, Wes Sr. and Wesley Hunting, is on view now through February 4, 2024 in Directing the Flow: The Art of Wes Hunting, at the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass (BMM) in Neenah, Wisconsin. The studio was awarded First Place and a solo show at the Museum following its 2022 Glass Arts Festival.

States BMM Executive Director, Amy Moorefield: “The Huntings create blown and cast glass vessels and sculpture featuring colorful palettes and murrine inspired by past and present creations of artists working in Murano, Italy. Through the process of painting with colored glass and cold surface cutting, Hunting’s newest creations invite the viewer to gaze inward into miniature worlds, paying homage to the aesthetics of overlay paperweights.”

Hunting Sr. studied under glass artist Henry Halem while attending Kent State from 1975 to 1979. He served as an assistant to Richard Ritter and has taught at the University of Kansas, Tennessee College of Crafts, Florida Keys Community College, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. 

Hunting Studio’s work can be found in museum collections internationally to include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin; The White House, Washington D.C.; the Krasl Art Center, St. Joseph, Michigan; the Windhover Center for the Arts, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin; the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; the Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa; the Museum of American Glass, Millville, New Jersey; the Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, North Carolina; Cafesjian Museum of Art, Armenia; The Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington; and The Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi. Hunting corporate collections include Bank One, The Hyatt Corporation, The Standard Oil Company and The Quaker Oat Company, to name just a few.

In the early 1980s, a trip to Penland School of Craft in North Carolina and travel through Italy set Wes Sr. on the path he continues on today. His studio visits with artists such as Mark Peiser, Billy Bernstein, Gary Beecham, Steve Edwards, Rob Levin, and Harvey Littleton and witnessing the millefiori process of the Italian masters helped refine his own goals in glass. Now as his son assumes increasingly more responsibilities at their studio, new ideas and bodies of work are fleshed out, investigated and introduced to their enthusiastic collectors. From their early Colorfield series, the artists have expanded into new aesthetic territory in the creation of their Optical series, Remnantseries and Castings.

Says Wes Sr.: “We are always striving to take the work to a new level of intensity. It has developed into a way for me to express myself by painting with molten glass. There is no other material like glass. The colors are totally unique as they can be transparent or opalescent. The way light passes through colored glasses adds a third dimension that cannot be duplicated by any other material.”

 

Oct 6, 2023

Glass Knitting by Carol Milne

A pioneer in the field of knitted glass, Carol Milne combines passion for knitting with experience in sculpture. The artist began working with kiln cast lead crystal, experimenting with different methods and developing a lost wax process to cast individual knitted works into glass. Playing with translucency and the material’s ability to highlight a prismatic range of hues, light is essential to Milne’s body of work, and she has recently been working on pieces that focus on illumination.

States Milne: “I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure. Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together. You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart. And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together. The connections are what bring strength and integrity to the whole and what keep it intact.”

Receiving a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph, Canada, in 1985, Milne realized in her senior year that she was more interested in sculpture than landscape. After casting iron around glass in graduate school, she experimented with many materials: clay, bronze, concrete, wood, glass, epoxy, fiberglass, mosaic and found objects. In 2000, she returned to glass and has been working primarily with the material ever since.  

In 2006, Milne created her Knitted Glass, incorporating the techniques of knitting, lost wax casting, mold making and kiln casting. Her unique process involves knitting the original art piece using wax strands, surrounding the wax with a heat-tolerant refractory material, removing the wax by melting it out, thus creating a mold; and placing the mold in a kiln where lead crystal frit is heated to 1530 degrees F, melting the glass into the mold. After it has cooled, the mold material is removed to reveal the finished piece within.

Collected internationally, Milne’s work garnered the Silver Award at the International Exhibition of Glass, Kanazawa, Japan; the Juror’s award, All Things Considered 9: Basketry in the 21st Century, National Basketry Organization; Special Citation and Honorable Mention, the 9th Cheongju International Craft Juried Competition, Cheongju, Republic of Korea; the Joan Eliot Sappington Award for On the Fringe: Today’s Twist on Fiber Art, Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts; and Honorable Mention purchase award, Art of Our Century, UVU Woodbury Art Museum, Orem, UT.. Recent exhibitions include Carol Milne: Knit Wit, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art in 2019; Vogue Knitting LIVE! Seattle, Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, WAand Carol Milne: Knitting Glass, Schiepers Gallery, Hasselt, Belgium, both in 2017.

Milne’s collectors include Amazon Headquarters, Seattle, WA; Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; Glasmuseum Lette, Coesfeld, Germany; The Glass Furnace, Istanbul, Turkey; Gustav Selter GmbH & Co KG, Germany; The Kamm Teapot Foundation, Sparta, NC; MusVerre Nord, Sars Poteries, France; Notojima Glass Art Museum, Ishikawa, Japan; and UVU Woodbury Art Museum, Orem, UT. She has published three e-books: In the Name of LoveKnitted Glass: Kiln-cast Lead Crystal Bowls; and Glass Slippers. Carol Milne Knitted Glass: How Does She Do That?, authored by Steve Isaacson, is available as an e-book and in paperback

Through her original work in knitted glass, Milne has blazed a new artistic path. Bringing the visual illusion of softness and drape to a material that is fixed in its final form, her work encourages closer inspection to reveal the nuances of her designs. 

Says Milne: “I’ve knitted since I was 10, but knitting wasn’t a career path – or at least it didn’t seem like one. I studied landscape architecture as a bridge between engineering and design. But I became captivated by earthworks and kinetic art, which lead me to sculpture. Glass is very much like kinetic sculpture, since it changes with the light.”

Through different bodies of work – socks, shoes, baskets, hands knitting themselves – Milne addresses themes including the circle of life, the disconnect between appearance versus reality, black humor and visual puns. If the work wasn’t challenging, she says, she would get bored and quit making it. “But in working with glass, scale is the biggest challenge. Large work requires large molds. Large molds are difficult to make, and heavy to move once they’re made,” explains Milne.

This month, Milne will have an open studio during REFRACT: The Seattle Glass Experience, October 14 from 11 to 4 p.m. She will exhibit a new body of work in an upcoming solo show, Knotty and Nice, at Culture Object gallery in NYC. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on October 18. Three of her Grenade pieces are on view in an ongoing group show called Like Mother, now through November 2 at the Helen S. Smith Gallery at Green River College, Washington. Milne will teach Knitted Glass from November 4 to 6 and 10 and Casting Hands, November 8 to 9 at Milkweed Arts, Phoenix, Arizona. In 2024, she will exhibit at the Gala Opening of Chasen Gallery’s new location at The Mark in Sarasota, FL, on January 20 and participate in Blue Spiral 1 Gallery’s Glass Invitational, November 2 – December 252024 in Asheville, NC.

 

Sep 28, 2023

Kenneth von Roenn Jr. has designed and executed more than 1,500 commissions in the U. S., Middle East, Far East, Europe, Canada and Mexico. His work has been published in more than 75 books, magazines, and digital publications, and he has received more than 25 awards for work, including two hall of fames and lifetime achievement for the state of Kentucky. Von Roenn has also written and lectured on the topics of art in architecture, the evolution of architectural glass art, and the development and concerns of public art. 

This Sunday, October 1, 2023, von Roenn will present examples of the architectural application of expressive glass and an introduction of what is on the horizon at the Stained Glass Association of America’s conference, Forging New Paths, held September 27 – October 1, 2023 in Buffalo, New York. Also, a new documentary film of von Roenn’s work by the noted film maker Sam Halstead has just been released.

Says von Roenn: “As an architect, I am primarily concerned with the sympathetic relationship between my works of art and the buildings of which they are but a part and parcel. Harmonious integration is achieved when the work expresses a visual dialogue with the architecture by responding to the particular character and specific needs of a building.” 

Von Roenn was born in 1948 in Louisville, Kentucky. As a young man, his interests were athletic, primarily in springboard and platform diving. He attended Florida State University on a full athletic scholarship, while also pursuing his interests in fine art, philosophy and English, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1970. 

Beginning his career in glass later that year at Louisville Art Glass, von Roenn was promoted to General Manager and in 1975 to President of the studio. In the early ‘70s he was an active member of the Stained Glass Association of America, serving on the executive committee and also as chairman of the publications committee. During this period, he compiled a body of innovative architectural glass artwork and established the studio as one of the most aesthetically and technically progressive in the country. He wrote regularly for several magazines on the topic of glass in architecture and taught courses in architectural art at the University of Kentucky School of Architecture from 1974 to ‘76. 

Recognizing a need to pursue his evolving interest in architecture, von Roenn took a leave of absence from the studio in 1977 to pursue a master’s degree in architecture at Yale University, graduating in 1981. While at Yale, von Roenn further developed his interest in architectural art through work with the architect/sculptor Kent Bloomer, which was culminated with his independent thesis entitled, “The Primary Modalities of Art’s Relationship to Architecture: Integration, Juxtaposition and Synthesis.” While still in graduate school he founded in 1979 the von Roenn Studio Group in Branford, Connecticut, which designed and produced glass, architecture, graphics and furniture, executing commissions nationally and internationally. 

In 1983, von Roenn returned to Louisville and worked for two architectural firms before establishing an architectural practice with two partners to form Bailey, Preston, von Roenn Architecture. Also at this time he returned to competitive diving, which culminated with winning 10 National Championship titles and two World Championship titles, setting two world records at the age of 41. Having achieved his earliest goal of becoming a world champion, von Roenn turned his exclusive attention to his true passion, expressive glass in architecture. 

Recognizing a need for the development of expressive architectural glass, in 1991 von Roenn bought the Louisville Art Glass Studio and renamed it Architectural Glass Art, Inc. He expanded and reorganized the company, redirecting its focus on new roles and opportunities for glass in architecture. The studio quickly became recognized for its innovative application of new technologies in the execution of architectural glass art. Within the studio he served as the director of design and CEO/President, managing a staff of 30 and directing the exploration and development of techniques and technologies in glass fabrication. Von Roenn designed, and his studio produced, the world’s largest glass sculpture, which crowns the top of the 3 Wells Fargo Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. This work weighs more than 500,000 pounds, can be seen from miles away and is designed to withstand hurricane force winds. 

In the late ‘90s, von Roenn’s desire to expand the studio led to his search for a new space. During this period, he joined with a group of developers and investors interested in the revitalization of downtown Louisville as well as the region’s firm commitment to the arts. The group, guided by von Roenn’s vision of a multipurpose glass facility, formulated a concept for Glassworks. From the original idea of a new home for Architectural Glass Art, von Roenn created a space for more than 50 glass artists to work and sell their art. He owned and oversaw the two galleries, a public workshop, a tour program, a special events program, the glass blowing studio, and a mobile glass blowing van powered by vegetable oil, all of which comprised Glassworks. More than 125,000 people visited Glassworks annually, which made it one of Louisville’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2012 von Roenn sold his interest in Glassworks to focus his attention exclusively on architectural glass art. 

In addition to designing his own projects, von Roenn has also collaborated with several significant artists on major projects including Al Held, Jose Bedia, Laura Battle, Thomas Sayre, and Jennifer Bartlett. He has also worked with many of the leading American architects including Cesar Pelli, Charles Moore, William Turnbull, Thomas Ventulett, Graham Gund, Turan Duda, Gyo Obata, David Rockwell, Peter Marino, Mark Simon, to name a few. 

Von Roenn’s work has been published in numerous books and in many major architecture magazines, including a feature article on his work in Architecture magazine. He has lectured extensively throughout North America and Canada and has written dozens of articles on art and architecture. Von Roenn has received numerous awards, including the Faith and Form Visual Arts Grand Award, American Crafts Award for Architectural Art, the AIA Allied Professional Award, the DuPont Benedictus Award, the Corning Museum Award, the Al Smith Fellowship, Tau Sigma Delta Architecture Fraternity Award, five Ministry & Liturgy’s Bene Awards and 10 CODAworx Awards. In addition, von Roenn received the Crystal Award for his design of a glass bridge for the Louisville arena. This project has been recognized as a technological tour de force for the way in which artistic glass was used as a primary structural element for the bridge. He has been inducted into the American Glass Hall of Fame as well as the Atherton High School Hall of Fame and was named one the 25 most influential art professionals in the Midwest by Dialogue magazine. He was presented with the Governor’s Award in the Arts for Lifetime Achievement in 2011 by the governor of Kentucky, which is the highest honor bestowed on a Kentucky artist. 

In 2013 von Roenn decided it was time to begin to slow down (primarily at the urging of his domestic partner, Ursula Vourvoulis). He closed Architectural Glass Art and moved to Tallahassee, Florida, to work with Florida State University on the development of a new public art program. At FSU von Roenn also served as the Director of the Master Craftsman Studio as well as the founder of the Public and Architectural Art program. As a professor, von Roenn taught courses in public and architectural art as well as sculpture and creative entrepreneurship. He did not renew his contract with FSU in 2016 so he could once again turn his attention exclusively back to glass. That year, von Roenn was invited to present the keynote address to the American Glass Guild annual conference in Chicago. 

With his move to Florida, von Roenn established Kaiser / von Roenn Studio with his partner Vourvoulis and serves as its Design Director. K/vR Studio’s focus is on large-scale architectural glass projects nationally and internationally. Since its inception in 2013, K/vR Studio has completed major projects in Manilla, Philippines, Dublin, Ireland, Austin, Dallas and El Paso, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee, Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles and San Diego, California, Washington DC and Miami, Florida. He lectures frequently on the topic of public art and its role in communities as well as the role of artistic glass in architecture. 

Says von Roenn: “As an artist and craftsman, I emphasize the poetic expression of glass or acrylic as it is animated with light by enhancing and employing its inherent and intrinsic characteristics and qualities. In developing Fluidity and the Ordered Turbulence pieces, I was primarily concerned with ensuring that the composition involved the viewer mentally and visually in a manner appropriate to its context. I believe that if viewers are to fully understand a thematic concept, they should mentally construct their own meaning, and that my role as both artist and architect is to assist, encourage, inspire and direct that effort.” 

 

Sep 22, 2023

The stained glass community will gather in a confluence of energy, inspiration and excitement for Forging New Paths: The Stained Glass Association of America’s 2023 Conference, held at The Hyatt Regency in downtown Buffalo, New York, from Thursday, September 28 through Sunday, October 1, 2023. In addition to 25 workshops, five tours, auctions, art salons, art openings, the Vendor Showcase, the Mosaic Marathon, and major networking events – SGAA will hold its General Session.

For more information, check out SGAA’s website for speakersa full schedule of events, and more about individual facets of every part of the event on the organization’s conference homepage

General Session

Each year during General Session, SGAA brings together speakers from around the world to speak about restoration, conservation, public art, history, and technology in the field. It is not uncommon to have roundtables to tackle emerging issues or panels of experts to provide clarity on how industry elements are being tackled across the country. Speakers and lecturers are chosen by a panel of peers for both their content and enthusiasm. The expertise of historians, conservators, and contemporary practitioners come together in a unique way to celebrate the enormous diversity of the entire industry.

In recent years, additional efforts have been made to bring notable guests and speakers to the conferences that can speak to the partnerships glass work often requires, e.g. those in adaptive reuse, metalsmithing, masonry conservation, sacred places, fundraising, and public art. There has also been a great many collaborations within the larger glass arts community as it applies to architectural art glass – kilnforming, flameworking, lamination, etc – and it is always exciting to see how connections made at the annual conference push the boundaries of new work.

Classes & Workshops

Conferences offer a unique opportunity to learn both beginning and advanced techniques and are often geared toward the unique strengths of that year’s conference host. SGAA tailored its workshops to nearby facilities and studio resources that are unique to this year’s conference location. Says McElfresh: “We have been very fortunate to work with incredible teachers from all over the globe – leaders in the field who have generously donated time to share their knowledge with our members and attendees.”

Mosaic Marathon

The Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) is the largest nonprofit mosaic art organization in the world—a vibrant and ever-expanding group of more than 1,200 members, including mosaic artists at all levels, mosaic aficionados, collectors, materials suppliers, and art educators. SAMA has placed renewed emphasis on strengthening ties with other mosaic organizations around the globe to pursue common goals.

The Mosaic Marathon brings together members for a unique opportunity to create a mosaic in a cooperative, continuous, networking experience. The Mosaic Marathon creates a lasting piece of art that is donated to a local charity in SGAA’s host conference city. As a not-for-profit organization, this is an opportunity for SAMA to give back to the arts community and create a lasting reminder of its legacy and mission.

Tours & Field Sessions

The history and appreciation of stained glass is inseparable from both its setting as an architectural element and the very nature of the material itself. For craftsmen and artists in the field to gain exposure to the vast living museums of stained glass, they must visit stained glass all over the world whenever they can. “Installations all over the world are our museums, our laboratories, and our classrooms,” says McElfresh.

“Thus, when we come together as a group, we must take advantage of our travel and our companions to go and experience installations, to discuss them with our peers, and to investigate ongoing care and restoration concerns that affect us all. This is one of the most useful ways we can learn as a group.” 

Nearly every SGAA conference includes at least one full day of site visits and installation tours. In addition, the organization has been known to schedule and participate in special travel opportunities both in the United States and abroad to experience as much stained glass as possible. The tours are almost always stand-alone events, which can be attended outside of General Session participation and are often open to the public.

Auction & Scholarships

At each conference, members have the opportunity to browse through tables laden with books, sample sets, vendor products, tools, and artwork from members. SGAA’s annual silent and live auction at the summer conference is a major source of funding for scholarship assistance. Donations directly fund scholarships for professional stained glass instruction all over the country and beyond. 

On exhibition years, work is donated to SGAA’s live auction, which is an opportunity to collect autonomous work by any number of the group’s talented members.

On the Shoulders of Giants: Innovation in Stained Glass at The Buffalo History Museum, Portico Gallery, September 15, 2023 – January 14, 2024

This anniversary exhibition pays homage to skills honed over generations that have facilitated innovation in past and present-day Buffalo. Just as LaFarge and Tiffany pushed the boundaries of the medium in the 1880s, today’s community continues to move forward, fostering innovation and creativity.

This trifecta of exhibits brings together Buffalo’s unique history and legacy with future architectural endeavors. Conference attendees have the opportunity to experience how glass is a part of the city’s built environment, building momentum for the art of the future. Viewing opportunities include: The new Gundlach building at Buffalo AKG Art Museum and multiple new glass-related commissions being unveiled there this summer; Brilliance: The Stanford Lipsey Art Glass Collection at the Burchfield Penney Art Center; and On the Shoulders of Giants at the Buffalo History Museum.

States David Judson, Judson Studios: “The world of stained glass is constantly evolving with the advancements in technology. Despite being an ancient craft, new and innovative methods are being discovered every day. These advancements present exciting opportunities for the future of this beautiful medium. We are thrilled to witness the endless possibilities that lie ahead.” 

Camaraderie, Networking & Celebration

Says McElfresh: “Year after year, SGAA builds on the shoulders of giants, sharing cumulative knowledge with one another. This magic is the result of providing space for the unplanned to occur: the intermingling of artist, craftsmen, business people and suppliers. They exchange ideas, have impromptu demonstrations, and socialize. It is the chemistry created by our shared passion for the glass material that keeps bringing us back together.”

She continues: “At our business meetings, we not only attend to the business of the day, we recognize those who have achieved professional recognition in the field. We seek to learn what challenges may face us next. We are just as eager to hear from emerging professionals as we are to hear from the recognized experts.” Each annual conference ends with an award banquet where SGAA celebrates Lifetime Achievements as well as up-and-coming voices. 

The Stained Glass Association of America is one of our nation’s oldest trade associations. Now 120 years old, the organization is proud to produce one of the oldest continuously published art journals in the United States, in addition to providing over 1,500 professionals across the country including manufacturers, suppliers, and educators with programs, scholarships, accreditation, public education and services for stewards. 

Says McElfresh: “SGAA is the advocate and ambassador for monumental stained glass art in the United States.”

Sep 1, 2023

From his studio in Dania Beach, Florida, Rob Stern creates his signature Windstar sculptures, dedicated to his father, a consummate stargazer fascinated by cosmic phenomena. Stern was also inspired by his surname, which means star in German. The artist often names his stars to reveal their celestial spheres. Copernica is derived from Copernicus, visible in the evening sky over Miami Beach. Polaris, known as the North Star, is the brightest in the constellation of Ursa Minor. Antares is the 15th brightest star in the night sky and is part of the constellation Scorpius. Other Windstar titles conjure colors and experiences, such as Red Dawn, which takes its name from a glowing red center or Modra, the Czech word for blue. Stern’s Windstars are a testament to his deep understanding of glass and belief that the material takes him where it wants to go during the making process.

Another iconic body of work, Stern’s Stilettos, was inspired by his wife’s vast collection of designer shoes that includes Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Alexander McQueen. However, these glass slippers are even more extreme with wild bejeweled designs that could make even Lady Gaga swoon. 

Stern states: “My creative endeavors and sculptures are mere stepping stones towards my search for understanding life. Harmonic instances between what I sense and do are the signals that guide me through my processes and prompt daily decisions. My works act as a communicative device which seeks to connect my thoughts and my actions to the collective human consciousness. A path seeking insight and enlightenment carries me forwards and always seems to bring me back to the glass.”

His mother an art teacher and father a filmmaker, Stern attended Northside High School for Performing Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was part of an elite group that performed internationally. He later pursued visual arts, receiving a BFA from San Francisco State University (1989) and an MFA from the University of Miami (2003). Other glass training includes a five-year apprenticeship with John Lewis Glass, Oakland, California, where he trained to be a metal fabricator and expert glass caster/cold-worker. Stern went on to assist Czech master Petr Novotny and worked in the Czech glass factories as a designer/maker for two years. The artist also assisted or collaborated with many masters such as Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Martin Blank, Richard Royal, Richard Jolley, Dante Marioni, Therman Statom, Stanislav Libensky, Rene Roubicek, and Vladimir Klien, among many others.

Lecturing at the University of Miami for 10 years, Stern also acted as interim professor at University of Texas Arlington in 2009. He has frequented the premier glass institutions, most notably Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, for a 30-year consecutive run where he has taught, been a gaffer, TA, AA, and worked with the most notable international artists. Dedicated to education, the artist has also taught at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; the Penland School of Craft, North Carolina; The Glass Furnace, Istanbul, Turkey; Bildwerk Frauenau, Germany; and Ways of Glass, Czech Republic. Stern designed and created many centerpiece collections for various institutions including Pilchuck in 2011, and he received the Amazon award for his Pilchuck auction piece in 2021. This year he has a prominent piece in Pilchuck’s October Auction.

Currently involved in long-term residencies at YZ Center for the Arts, China, and Bezaiten Arts Center in Lake Worth, Florida, Stern will serve as the future director of glass at The Dania Art Park, now in development. Meanwhile he and his team design and create original sculpture, architectural commissions, and unique lighting that has been commissioned, exhibited, and collected internationally. Recently, the artist participated in Habatat Gallery’s Glass 51 exhibition, and several of his works were acquired by Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Eighty of his pieces have become part of the permanent collection of the Weiner Museum of Decorative Arts (WMODA), Dania Beach, Florida.

Says Stern: “My aesthetic resides at the crossroads where humans and nature intersect. Between organic and angular, a space connects the temporary man-made to the pre-existing and eternal cosmos. Here, we begin to measure our perspective and contemplate the perception of our place in the world as it is one that is always changing with the evolution of space, light, and time. I venture to capture moments with materials that speak to a fleeting sensibility of the permanence or importance of this balancing act. Color and form dictate emotion, and humanity is transcended as we reflect in the inherent rhythm and fractal patterning in this natural world. My constant observation of details persuades my attention to nuances in an attempt to mimic the complexity of its simplicity.” 

Stern’s work will be exhibited at Kittrell Riffkind in Dallas, Texas, in April 2024.

 

Aug 17, 2023

With glass as her medium and lost wax casting as her primary technique, Anja Isphording creates idiosyncratic sculptures familiar enough for us to recognize that they are inspired by nature, yet rarely resembling anything that we have actually encountered. Her intimate-scale objects, tactile and rich with deeply saturated colors, are reminiscent of basic molecular structures, honeycombs or coral reefs, but their biological reference remains ambiguous.  

In Germany, Isphording’s early glass engraving studies in the 1980s with FS Zwiesel and Franz X Hoeller were followed by a stint as an engraving instructor at the summer school Bild-Werk, Frauenau. She founded her first studio in Helminghausen, Germany, in 1989, but relocated to Vancouver, BC, Canada, in 2000 and switched her focus to casting.

Isphording’s work has been exhibited in Europe and the United States, and collected by museums worldwide, including the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museum of American Glass, Wheaton, NJ; Glass Museum Kamenicky Senov, Czech Republic; Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt; and Kuntsgewerbemuseum, Berlin Germany, among others. She has been juried into New Glass Review – the Corning Museum of Glass’ prestigious annual survey of cutting-edge glass – an unprecedented 10 times.

Many consider Isphording’s intimate sculptures among the most intriguing objects ever made from glass. They embody reverence for nature’s mysteries and explore the patterns and structures of nature without ever literally reproducing them. Often they evoke a mood as much as an image. Plants and marine creatures may echo in the forms, but ultimately, they are guided by the artist’s exquisite imagination.  

Isphording’s awards include 1998-2001 scholarships at Pilchuck Glass School, WA; 1995 scholarship at the Creative Glass Center of America, Wheaton Village, NJ; 1993-1994 scholarship at the Academy of Applied Arts, class Vladimir Kopecky, Prague, Czech Republic; 2011-2012 prizes in TGK Competition, Germany; 2004 Artist of the Month, Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass; 2001 prize, WG at BE Exhibition, Portland, OR; 1993 Bayrischer Staatspreis; and 1986 prize, Leistungswettbewerb der Handwerksjugend, Germany.

First modeled full-size in wax and then cast in glass, Isphording’s intricate compositions often require multiple firings. When finished, the sculptures have a tactile quality and emotional range that sets them apart from contemporary trends and renders them timeless. Each piece takes months to create – follow this link to learn more about her process. Demanding technical challenges coupled with the complexity of her forms conspire to limit her output.

This Friday, August 18 – September 1, 2023, Heller Gallery in NYC will present Isphording’s latest sculptures as part of their summer pop-up series titled Rotations.

 

Aug 4, 2023

Art and technology share a symbiotic grace in the glass spacecraft, rockets, and scientific apparatus of Rik Allen. Most of his work is made primarily of glass and metal, which expresses a paradoxical symbiosis. The relationship between the rigid strength of metal with the inherent fragility of glass creates an alluring tension. While many of his pieces reference his curiosity about science, they also convey humor, simple narratives, and a lightheartedness that is embodied in much of science fiction’s antiquated vision of the future. The theme of “futuristic antiquity” reflects Allen’s interest in the literary fictional worlds of Jules Vern, H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clark, and Isaac Asimov and their influence on the scientific community. His sculpture is also inspired by the accounts of early scientific pioneers of the 19 and 20th centuries, such as Nicola Tesla, Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun, and other great scientific minds.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Allen earned a BA in Anthropology from Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire. His earliest and formative glass studio experiences and education came as a studio assistant in Providence, working with a number of wonderful artists to include Daniel Clayman, James Watkins, and Michael Scheiner. Allen relocated to Washington in 1994, where he joined the William Morris team at the Pilchuck Glass School for 13 years, specializing in engraving, cutting, and finishing glass sculpture.

Allen has had numerous solo exhibitions of his sculptures throughout the country, including at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Museum of Northwest Art, Traver Gallery, Blue Rain Gallery, Schantz Gallery, and Duncan McClellan Gallery. His sculptures have been acquired for a number of public and private collections, including Glass Museum in Tacoma, Imagine Museum, Toyoma Institute of Glass, Blue Origin, Boeing, Amazon and SpaceX. In 2016, his work appeared in a feature cover story published by American Craft magazine and in 2018, he was awarded “Grand Artist of the future” by Imagine Museum.

In 2005, Allen established a glass and sculpture studio with his wife, artist Shelley Muzylowski Allen at their property in Skagit County, Washington. In addition to being artists, the couple has taught internationally at the Toyama Institute of Glass in Toyama, Japan, and the International Glass Festival in Stourbridge, England. They have also taught nationally, including the Penland School of Craft, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and at Pilchuck Glass School.

A lifelong Star Trek devotee – whose earliest memories of creation involved making scotch tape and cardboard phasers and communicators – Allen was contacted by Eugene (Rod) Roddenberry, son of Star Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry and current spokesman for Trekkies everywhere. Intrigued by Allen’s work after seeing a piece one of his friends owned, Roddenberry commissioned a sculpture of the original series’ Starship Enterprise. The sculpture was to reflect the basic design of the original Enterprise, but also incorporate Allen’s personality into a sculpture that was of his own original design and overall interpretation.

Allen, in collaboration with wife Shelley, has created and will install two large public sculptures, Sticken (the Orchard Octopus) in September, and Heronious One in November in Bellevue, Washington. He will have an exhibition of new work in spring 2024 at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and will collaborate with Dave Walters this fall. 

 

Jul 21, 2023

In 1974, three recent art school graduates – Ray Ahlgren, Dan Schwoerer, and Boyce Lundstrom – cobbled together a glass factory in the backyard of a ramshackle house in Portland, Oregon. Resourceful by nature and necessity, they built their factory with scraps repurposed from a shipyard. And, their products—hand-rolled sheets for the stained glass trade—were made from recycled bottle cullet. Shamelessly innovative and unconventional, Bullseye Glass Company was born. 

A chance encounter with artist Klaus Moje in 1979 inspired them to do something that had never been done before—something that would change the company’s course and the history of glass art. They produced a palette of tested-compatible glasses for creating works in a kiln.

This reliably fusible glass was an extraordinary product that artists had historically longed for. However, there was a problem—almost no one knew what to do with it. Undaunted, Bullseye embarked on a long-term program of research and education by working hand-in-hand with artists to expand and share the technical, aesthetic, and conceptual possibilities of what is now known as “kiln-glass.”

Nearly five decades later, the Bullseye factory has expanded to cover most of the block around the old house where it all started. While the practice of glass fusing, or kilnforming, has expanded exponentially, Bullseye still produces glass the same way as in 1974—one handmade sheet at a time. At this time, the factory casts up to 1,500 sheets every day, in addition to fusible accessory glasses like powder, frit, ribbon, and stringer. Significantly, Bullseye Glass now ships to countries around the world for makers who create stunningly diverse glassworks. 

Lani McGregor is the Director of Bullseye Projects. Prior to joining Bullseye Glass Co. in 1984, she operated a glass studio in New Mexico that specialized in kilnformed and flat architectural glass. In 1990, she established Bullseye’s Research & Education Department and developed its initial teaching programs.

Bullseye’s Research & Education team continues to explore and share new ways of working with this remarkable material.  Bullseye Studio, the fabrication arm of Bullseye Glass Co., collaborates with artists, architects, and designers to demonstrate the large-scale potential of kilnformed glass. In like manner, Bullseye Projects champions artists from around the world who work in kilnforming by mounting exhibitions. The Bullseye Online Store continues to make the company’s materials and favorite tools accessible. And finally, Bullseye Glass Resource Centers provide classes and Open Studio access to empower anyone to create with color and light.

Enjoy this conversation with founders Schwoerer and McGregor, who trace their company’s history, challenges and continued goals to inspire, while providing the tools needed to make the world brighter and more colorful through the incredible potential of glass.

For more on Bullseye history, check out Schwoerer and McGregor here:

https://www.knowledgestream.org/presentations/early-years-bullseye

 

 

Jul 4, 2023

British born artist, Joanna Manousis creates sculptural objects and installations in glass and mixed media, manipulating materials through a multi-disciplinary process that includes bronze casting, enamels, and even taxidermy. With a hands-on studio practice spanning 17 years, she strives to transform cast glass surfaces into reflective, three-dimensional mirrors, shifting the viewers’ perspective and bringing new experiential possibilities.

Wrote Eve Kahn in a 2018 Todd Merrill exhibition catalog: “Joanna Manousis mines her life experiences while exploring broader themes—materialism, memory, domesticity, vanity, iridescence—in acclaimed sculptures that mingle glass with wheat husks and taxidermied birds. Viewers may find themselves reflecting on the transience of existence while seeing themselves literally and metaphorically mirrored in her works.”

An only child raised by her mother, growing up Manousis loved drawing and painting. During early meditations with mirrors, she had the initial experience of being somehow detached from her body – a phenomenon whereby her spirit seemed disconnected from her visual appearance. In college, Manousis set out to become a painter, but the canvas plane gave her artist’s block. She enrolled at Wolverhampton University for a bachelor of fine art-glass degree, and during a year abroad studied neon and glass casting and blowing at Alfred University in western New York. In 2008, she earned her MFA at Alfred, and by then had met her future husband, the Maine-born glass artist Zac Weinberg. 

Now a working mom of two, Manousis travels the world to teach, exhibit, and make artworks, while winning awards and grants. Her work has been recognized with nominations for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and a Bombay Sapphire Award Nomination for ‘Excellence in Glass’ as well as the Margaret M. Mead Award and the Hans Godo Frabel Award. She has received support from internationally recognized residency programs including the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Corning Museum of Glass, New York; and Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France. Her work has been exhibited at Design Miami and Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland; FOG Art + Design, San Francisco; the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Ebeltoft, Denmark; and the British Glass Biennale, Stourbridge, England. The artist has worked, studied and taught in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.

Manousis states: “My work is born out of a sustained exploration of human nature and the conflicts that exist between our inner reality and the world we occupy. I often emphasize decadence and grandiosity to illuminate the superfluous nature of accumulated luxury when faced with our own impermanence. I am also interested in engaging the viewer’s gaze, drawing the participant into a state of reflection, literally and philosophically, about the essence of human existence and ideas related to growth, emotionality, aspiration and mortality.”

She continues: “Glass is my chosen medium, and I am drawn to its contrasting qualities–transparent yet solid, it simultaneously reveals yet barricades. In recent works I use cast glass as a lens to magnify residual formations of objects within. On occasion these negative spaces are mirrored, enlivening static surfaces in my pursuit to reflect the viewer and the environment that the work inhabits. Incorporating the audience’s gaze, whether it is distorted or clear, centralizes the viewer within the work itself, facilitating a stronger connection between observer and object.”

ToYG podcast caught up with Manousis just prior to two US workshops: Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, North Carolina, July 2 – 14 and The Corning Museum of Glass, July 31 – August 6. In addition to her core-cast pieces with internal spaces, she continues her PhD testing, along with a new venture in customizable wall installations made with graphite molding techniques that she and husband Weinberg create together in their company Manberg Projects. Manousis’ PhD research focuses on three-dimensional mirrors within cast glass resulting in work that deals with reflection, both physically and metaphorically. The artist has also recently started making jewelry – small scale pieces that are more accessible and used to adorn. Check out this new work on Instagram @jomanousis. Her sculptural practice can be found @joanna.manousis.

 

Jun 21, 2023

Loretta H. Yang and Chang Yi, founders and artists of LIULI Crystal Art, devoted their life to the art of LIULI for three decades. In the process, they revived the ancient Chinese technique of pâte de verre lost wax casting and instigated the contemporary glass art movement in Asia. Richly imbued with traditional Chinese artistic vocabulary and philosophical thinking, Yang’s works have been acquired by more than 22 museums for their permanent collections including Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Palace Museum in Beijing, New York Museum of Arts and Design, The Corning Museum of Glass, and Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. She has created work for the Oscars, Grammys and 32 world leaders.

“Beauty transformed” is how Japanese critics have described Yang’s multiple talents. Named Best Leading Actress in the 21st and 22nd Golden Horse Film Awards ceremony, she was the first actress who won this award two years in a row. In 1987, Yang left the film industry along with her late husband, film director Chang Yi, and several other people from the film industry to establish the glass workshop and studio LIULI Crystal Art near Taipei, Taiwan. The industrious group invested their resources in rehabilitating a dilapidated factory and learned the techniques and process of glass casting in the French manner, similar to the luxury glass made by Lalique and Daum. Yang single-handedly rediscovered the techniques of pâte de verre glass casting and uses this technique to create works with a traditional Chinese artistic flare. 

When asked, “What has it been like being a woman in the glass arts industry all these years,” Yang responded: “Honestly, I haven’t given this topic much thought. Don’t exceptional women exist in all industries? Chang Yi believed that women were the stronger gender and possess a resilience men don’t. He would use the saying ‘will of steel, gentle heart’ to describe women, because he observed that we lead with a gentleness of heart and an unwavering will. Maybe I’ve been lucky to work with Chang Yi all this time because despite what other people said, we took it with a grain of salt and continued to live according to our own set of rules. We complemented each other. He was responsible for the development, planning and operational aspects of the company. And because of this, he was able to steer our team in the right direction and instill an equitable value system.” 

She continues: “I, on the other hand, have more patience and lean more toward innovation. I enjoy researching techniques – LIULI Crystal Art’s 12-step technique is a product of my work. Yes, the process was challenging, but what would we be without it? LIULI Crystal Art faced a lot of challenges in our 36 years. The sheer will to complete a project was our greatest encouragement and got us through them. Chang Yi used to good-naturedly admonish that I was the type of person who doesn’t know when to quit. But really, I’m the type of person who immerses themselves in something and will continue searching for an answer until I find it. Value and strength are creations of our own design. I refuse to put myself in a box or limit myself in any way. Women can be just as bold as men, men can be just as resilient as women.” 

Today, LIULI Crystal Art owns factories on Taiwan (Tamshui) and in Shanghai, and numerous galleries on Taiwan and in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and United States. The group decided to use the Chinese word LIULI as opposed to more common names for glass in the Chinese language. It is commonly believed that the word LIULI first appeared during the Western Zhou Dynasty (about 1045-771 BCE), which referred to the glass being produced at the time. For Yang especially, using the term LIULI greatly references her own body of work, which draws upon traditional Chinese motifs and such Buddhist teachings as enlightenment and transparency, evoking an almost meditative practice and devotional purpose. Each piece undergoes a comprehensive 12-step process and requires six to eight months to complete.

Known for her floral sculptures, in 2006 Yang removed all traces of color from her work. This pure, transparent series debuted at Leo Kaplan Modern in New York in 2007 with Proof of Awareness, an oversized and colorless blooming peony, garnering widespread acclaim. To Yang, the oversized flowers of Proof of Awareness represented her life reflections and the next stage of her creative journey.

Says Yang: “LIULI petals, when looked at individually, hold little significance. But when clustered together, these petals manifest a symbiotic relationship to create a single large and flawless flower. A harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship does not focus on the self but on the greater good of everyone involved.” 

Combining pâte de verre with hot casting, Yang uses multiple castings to create the abstract form of Buddha. Because life is impermanent, LIULI is the perfect material to capture its wavering illusory and tangible qualities. Yang explored the Buddhist philosophy of enlightenment and non-attachment in her exhibition Diamond Sutra held at the Grand Palais in 2015. The Ateliers d’Art de France commented: “The collection exudes a meditative philosophy that captures the Parisian way of life yet is an uncommon component in contemporary French art.”

In 1996, when Yang and Chan Yi visited the Buddhist grottoes near the desert oasis of Dunhuang in western China, the moment they saw the Thousand-armed, Thousand-eyed Guanyin fresco in Cave 3 at Mogao, painted during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) and slowly disappearing under the relentless weathering of the desert sandstorms, Yang vowed to recreate the image in glass as a way of handing down to future generations the wisdom and compassion it has accumulated over the centuries. On the reverse side is engraved the Great Compassion Dharani, a popular incantation in Chinese Buddhism. The unique transparent nimbus represents the wisdom and compassion of Guanyin illuminating the world. The image exudes an air of boundless compassion, quelling the anxiety of a troubled heart. Though Yang has completed a 200cm version, her deepest wish is to complete a LIULI-made Thousand-armed, Thousand-eyed Guanyin that measures14.7 feet tall! 

In order to “continuously create art for the good of the heart,” Chang wrote a dedicated poem for each artwork. It took great determination and faith to accumulate such a compelling body of work. He viewed LIULI as a communicator of life and death, and as the state between illusion and reality, light and shadow. Even though life was illusory, a dream and ephemeral like bubbles, there was always an unwavering touch of red in the heart urging all to never give up life and never give up hope. 

Says Yang: “Although it’s been more than three decades, we know there’s a lot more to achieve. And the only way to do so is to continuously practice what we believe in. The mission of LIULI has always been more than LIULI. It is the society, the culture, and the human beings.

 

Jun 1, 2023

Pacific Northwest glass artists Kelly O’Dell and Raven Skyriver, who create sculptures inspired by marine life, species endangerment, extinction, and conservation, will exhibit their work at Habatat Galleries during next week’s Glass Art Society conference in Detroit, Michigan. Titled Confluence, the show is a tour de force of works created in homage to the natural world and to raise consciousness in viewers about the need for preservation of natural spaces and species.

On June 5, during Habatat’s first ever VIP Artist Gala, Skyriver will present a glassblowing demo at the brand-new Axiom glassblowing facility, followed by artist talks given by Skyriver and O’Dell. On June 7, VIPs travel to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation to view its important glass art collection and experience a rare opportunity to see the culmination of O’Dell’s residency there via work she created onsite at Greenfield Village.

In 2018, Skyriver and O’Dell launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund building their own studio on Lopez Island, Washington. They wrote: “We’re now asking you for assistance to build our own glass studio where we can deepen our practice, give back to our community, and nurture our family… This project came from a vital need: to have more time together (AND about 10,000 fewer miles traveled on the freeway every year). We are moving to the island where Raven was born and raised to allow our son to grow up surrounded by his grandparents and extended family, but the island has no glass studio available for our use. So, we’re building one, from the ground up, with the support of our friends and family.

Aside from creating their own work there, Skyriver and O’Dell’s studio represents a place of education and community where visiting artists can be invited for residencies, short-term apprenticeships can be offered, and small teaching workshops can be hosted. They wrote: “This hotshop will allow us to pass on the knowledge that was so generously taught to us by our creative masters, and give back to our glass community.” Though they surpassed their initial Kickstarter goal, the studio remains a work in progress, evolving physically as well as philosophically.

Born in 1982, Raven Skyriver (Tlingit) was raised in the San Juan Islands. Growing up connected to the land and its surrounding waters, and living in a creative household where carvers came to learn Northwest Coast style carving and design, helped push him towards an artistic path. At the age of 16, he was introduced to glass by family friend and mentor Lark Dalton and was immediately captivated by the medium. Exploring every opportunity to work in glass led Skyriver to being invited to work with Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen for the William Morris team in 2003. This was his introduction to sculptural glass and how building a vocabulary for narrative in his own work began. In 2018, the artist returned to Lopez Island where he was born, and he and wife O’Dell constructed a home studio where they can create their glass art.

Says Skyriver: “I was raised near the sea and in a family that valued and practiced artistic pursuits from as young as I can remember. Some of my most vivid memories as a child were smelling the fresh cedar chips that were being removed by master carvers’ blades as they sculpted beautifully elegant forms. The most excitement I have experienced in my life was the first salmon I ever landed, the time I saw a Sea Lion a paddle’s length from my boat, and seeing a humpback whale feeding on smelt. When I was introduced to glass as a junior in high school, I was immediately captivated by the mesmerizing, alchemic, fluid nature of the material. From that day forward I have dedicated myself to honing my craft and perfecting my technique.” 

Skyriver continues his artistic practice utilizing close observation of his sculptural subjects to create an ongoing personal dialogue. This inner conversation touches on the celebration of biodiversity, his understanding of his heritage, the importance of Native species, the gifts those beings bring to their communities, and the delicate balance that sustains our collective existence. 

He states: “I draw from my experiences as a child and my continued fascination with the natural world to inform the work I make today. My goal is to capture the fluidity of an animal in motion, using the liquid glass to portray a dynamic moment in time. I attempt to imbue the subject with a hint of life and capture the essence of the creatures I depict. I want my work to speak to the viewer’s own understanding of the wild and their place in it, and to instill a sense of the delicate balance that is our existence.”

Born in Seattle, Washington, in 1973, O’Dell was raised by glass artists in Kealakekue, Hawaii, where her father built himself a hot glass studio at their home. In 1999 she graduated from the University of Hawaii (UH), Manoa, earning a BFA in Studio Art with a focus in glass, which she studied under Rick Mills. The UH program afforded many opportunities to study glass at Pilchuck Glass School, where she eventually relocated and became a member of the William Morris winter crew from 2003 to 2007. 

Says O’Dell: “My upbringing happened in the Hawaiian Islands. I grew up on the Big Island, home of active volcanoes. Coming from a place so diverse in culture and climate, teeming with flora, fauna, and really great food, I noticed the difference as soon as I left it at 25. That difference made me feel the responsibility to honor what is lost, or extinct, not just with plants and animals, but with culture and climate, too. It is fascinating and devastating that our existence has so much impact on the delicate balance of life, our own species included. Through sculpture, my work explores themes of Memento Mori as well as extinction, preservation, and origin. The Ammonite, an intelligent coiled-up cephalopod, became extinct 65 Million years ago, leaving impressions in its habitat to fossilize. We learn from the past to be responsible in our future. I hope my artwork could serve as a reminder or Memento of this.”

O’Dell’s recent exhibitions include Fired Up: Glass Today, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, 2022; Chinese Whispers, curated by Erin Dickson, Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium 2022, and Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, Denmark, 2019-20; Glass Lifeforms 2021, The Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; and Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest, Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA, 2021. This year, the artist will serve a glass residency at The Henry Ford Museum, MI, and received The Myrna Palley Collaborators Award, University of Miami, FL. She and Skyriver will be instructors at Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, NC in July 2023.

In her creative process, O’Dell is often inspired by a non-fiction book, a curious detail in nature, or a podcast about science or spirituality. That leads to research, and most ideas make it to her sketchbook. States O’Dell: “I’ll return to those ideas later, after they’ve passed the test of some time. I need to be sure before I start a fresh project that I will be challenged with a new sort of problem-solving, which I really love most about making artwork. The process of glassmaking is hot, fluid, demanding, and not without help! In the glass shop, my favorite part about making artwork is working with friends. Glass is special in that it usually requires skilled teamwork, and we all sort of know the same language in the shop. Working with a team, it is possible to accomplish some pretty crazy challenges. While we help each other make artwork, we push each other and the limits of what glass can do. We cross paths regularly, and so we become community. We raise each other’s kids, we bbq together, we camp at the beach, we travel to faraway places together, and we gravitate to one another in socially awkward situations. I feel very lucky to be part of this vibrant community.”

 

May 24, 2023

Occasionally an artist is commissioned to create a work that advances their skills to such a degree that no project seems unreachable going forward. Such was the case with De Carter Ray’s History of Transportation, created in 2017 for C. Graham Berwind III’s residence. The original work on which the project was based was designed by Jean Dupas and constructed for the transatlantic ship the S.S. Normandie in 1935. The original took 2 years to make; Carter Ray had only eight months.

Requested as a feature for her client’s dining room wall, Carter Ray’s drawings were followed by photography, then scanning into a computer. Ropes, guns, anchors, chains, rigging and carbuncles were all carved. Longer rigging lines were carved 1/16 of an inch and filled with enamel paint. For the entire project, the artist had to work in reverse and flip the piece sideways on an easel in order to reach it. The piece was done in stages. Each panel design was carefully taken apart, foreground to background, one item at a time. All of the Van Dyke brown had to be painted first; then the hand painted flags on the sails; the birds in front of the sails; the shading on sails and mastheads; the rigging holding the masts; the long hand painted lines with brushes; the gold paint over that; and then Manetti gold leaf. Each layer had to dry eight hours minimum in order to prevent the paint from peeling and lifting later. The finer details were hand painted with a paint brush, and the rest air-brushed with an Iwita dual action micro airbrush. 

Frame construction and installation presented additional learning curves. Living in an earthquake state, Carter Ray wanted to ensure the piece wouldn’t be held too tightly and break from strain. The frame needed to look lighter than air yet be supported from the bottom. She designed clips to hold the piece on top and a brass bar that could support 1100 pounds on the bottom. The art was divided into four panels, each piece 36 inches wide by 83 3/8 inches tall. The overall finished width spans 12 feet wide and almost 7 feet tall, totaling 95 square feet. 

Creg Oosterhart, project designer, said “De, if you ever work for a new client, and they question your abilities, just show them a photograph of this, and say, ‘I designed and manufactured every aspect of this project- start to finish.’ It will remove all doubt.” 

Carter Ray’s history includes working as a draftsperson for Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo, California, where she learned to draw landing gears and correct blueprints using a T square and a triangle. She also worked for printing companies, at one time drawing illustrations of food and woks for a book titled Madame Wu’s Art of Chinese Cooking. In combination with some of these early skills, the artist marries client inspiration with her own spectacular vision for a project resulting in stunning flat glass creations that grace homes and businesses around the globe. Self-taught, her skill set includes carved, etched, stained, leaded, painted, and mosaic glass, as well as frit painted and slumped glass, and beveled windows. She is currently experimenting with fused glass and its incorporation into her work.

States Carter Ray: “The making of art glass is my life’s work. Clients have an idea at the studio, and we bring it to fruition. It is all about process, finding the right inspiration for a particular subject. Usually, the art requested has a purpose. I will be given a space to work with, a subject matter, and the inspiration to fill it. My job is to listen. Take all the elements in to consideration, put a different spin on the ball and hand it back to them in a way that is workable, and attractive, hopefully better than what was originally conceived.”

Carter Ray established Classical Glass Studio in Huntington Beach, California, in 1983, and brings over 32 years of experience to her customer’s art glass needs.

 

May 19, 2023

Under cover of his signature top hat and distinctive moustache, Lewis Wilson has accomplished more than most people dream of. His list of achievements includes success as a glass art instructional video producer, demonstrating lampworking artist, promoter of the world’s largest hot glass competition, and founding member of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. A fixture at glass bead and pipe shows, “Looie” is also a fire-eating juggler, knife swallower and a black belt in karate. In his Crystal Myths gallery, you’ll find everything from goblets and vases to birds and dinosaurs. The fantasy realm is where this artist draws much of his inspiration.

Being from New Mexico, it is only fitting that Wilson is also known for glass sculptures of Native American ceremonial dancers. The intricately costumed pieces have not only become prized additions to private collections, but were also given as official presentations from the state of New Mexico to visiting dignitaries such as King Juan Carlos of Spain, blues legend Bo Diddley, and Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Born in 1949 in Roswell, New Mexico, Wilson was part of a military family that moved frequently to places such as Dallas, Texas, then Morroco, North Africa, and on to Riverside, California. In 1960, 11-year-old Wilson moved with his family to Goose Bay, Canada, where he taught himself how to eat fire, juggle, throw knives and do various magic and circus tricks. In 1963 following a move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, he started learning Shotokan karate, receiving his first-degree black belt in 1969. 

Joining the United States Air Force in 1970, Wilson was a medic during the Vietnam war, stationed at Cocoa Beach, Florida. During the slow hours of the night, he taught himself about glass through an old scientific glass blowing book he found in the Air Force base library. The medical lab was his studio and a Bunsen burner his equipment. There he made intricately woven animal figurines from 4 mm Pyrex stirring rods.

Wilson’s first real lessons in glass blowing came in 1973 under the tutelage of Alfonso and Tomas Arribas who had reportedly caught the attention of Walt Disney when the brothers represented Spain at the 1964–‘65 New York World’s Fair. Wilson talked them into an apprenticeship at the Crystal Arts on Main Street, U.S.A at Disneyworld where he made thousands of crabs, teapots and birdbaths for the tourists. Mexican glass blower Miguil Bonilla, who also worked for Disney, was another of his mentors.

Upon leaving the Air Force in 1974, Wilson went the following day to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, to try to secure a job as a glassblower. There were no glassblowing openings, however they did have a vacancy for a juggler and fire-eater. For the next two years he worked with tattooed belly dancers, a magician, and an organ grinder and his monkey. Later that year, Wilson married, and his family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he opened his glass business, Crystal Myths. 

In 1993, Wilson produced his first glassworking video, Glass Bead Making, and now has produced more than 20 titles. In 1996, Crystal Myths promoted its first show, The Best Bead Show, in Tucson, Arizona, earning him the nickname of “the P.T. Barnum of Beadmakers.” In 2002, Wilson promoted the world’s largest hot glass competition called the Albuquerque Flame-Off. There, 300 glass workers from the U.S. and Canada worked on six torches running for 12 hours a day for two days. 

In 2005, Wilson demonstrated at the Kobe International Lampworking Festival in Kobe, Japan, and only spoke Japanese, which he taught himself, during the demo. Later that year, a building was named after him at Art Glass Invitational in September, one of the highlights of his career. 

Wilson sold the Best Bead Shows in 2008, re-emerging as a talented artist able to concentrate fully on lampworking. Later that year, at the Oakland ISGB convention, he was presented with the Hall of Flame Award. In 2011, Wilson married glass artist Barbara Svetlick with whom he founded Soft Glass Invitational, promoted for two years in Hilliards, Pennsylvania. In 2015, the event was given to Kris Schaible, and she continues to promote the event. 

These days, Wilson spends the bulk of his time filling commissions and doing standard production work, with the remainder dedicated to new designs. He and his wife enjoy collaborating, which comprises about 10 percent of each artist’s work. With Svetlick’s flowers added to Wilson’s glass sculpture or her sculpture incorporating his beads, the artwork benefits from the best of both worlds.

 

May 11, 2023

As a collaborative team, Dean Bensen and Demetra Theofanous create narrative pate de verre wall sculptures utilizing nature as a vehicle to communicate environmental challenges and metaphors for the human experience. Their work connects the viewer with the natural world and instills an appreciation for its interconnectedness to humanity and its inherent fragility.   

Says Bensen and Theofanous: “Our decaying leaf installations reflect on our impermanence and vulnerability. What we do has impact – often unforeseen and unmeasured. A pile of leaves hit by a gust of wind is a metaphor for this uncertainty in our future. It expresses that pivotal moment of change, when things we took for granted are suddenly gone. Existing peacefully with others and protecting our natural resources is a tenuous balance, highlighting our interdependence on others and the earth.”

Bensen and Theofanous work both independently and as a collaborative team. Their work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous private and public collections. Recent exhibitions include participating 2018 at the Ming Shangde Glass Museum in China, where they received an award from the Chinese government. Another large-scale leaf installation was on view 2022-‘23 in an exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, curated by Brandy Culp.

Attending The College of Idaho, Bensen graduated with a BA in art in 1990. His fascination in glass started a hunger for what he had been missing since his youth, an immersion into the exploration and development of his creative side. Upon receiving his degree, he moved to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho, where he continued working in glass at a local studio. In 1997, the artist returned to California to pursue glassblowing as a full-time career. Immersing himself in the Bay Area glass scene, Bensen began working for many local artists and teaching at places such as San Jose State University, Palo Alto High School, Corning Glass School, Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI), and Public Glass. 

In 2002, Bensen developed a body of work that would become the foundation for his ideas based on the existence of the old growth redwood forest. Using both clear glass and color, he focused initially on environmental concerns. As his concepts evolved, Bensen’s work grew further, investigating the life cycles in nature, their significance, and the interplay between the earth and various species. Each slice of murrine served to highlight one of nature’s footprints, marking the passage of time and a glimpse of history, the rings of life in a felled tree. Bensen has taught extensively, received a scholarship to attend Pilchuck glass school, and his first solo show, Nature’s Footprints, received a full-page review in the San Francisco Chronicle. His work has been widely exhibited, including at the Imagine Museum, San Francisco Airport Museum, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the Oakland Airport Museum, and the Ming Shangde Glass Museum in China. He has also worked on a team creating several projects for renowned artist Dale Chihuly, including an enormous chandelier in Dubai. 

Theofanous was immersed in the arts from a very young age, but this thirst for expression was temporarily diverted when she received her business degree from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She graduated and spent time working in San Francisco only to realize there was something missing in her work, and she needed to find a way to return to her creative roots. In 2004, Theofanous entered the medium of glass through flameworking and developed a method for weaving with glass that provides a continuing basis for narratives and investigation in her work. She also utilizes the ancient technique of pate de verre, which offers a detailed and painterly approach to casting that is well suited to creating hyper-realistic sculpture inspired by the natural world. Some of her sculptures now combine this cast glass technique with flameworked sculpture. 

Theofanous has been internationally recognized for her woven glass nest and flora sculptures, and is included in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum. Notable awards include: a Juror’s Choice Award from renowned collector Dorothy Saxe, a merit award from Paul Stankard, a NICHE Award, a Juror’s Choice Award at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Grant, two juror awards from Carol Sauvion, Executive Producer of Craft in America, and an Award of Excellence juried by the Detroit Institute of the Arts in Habatat Gallery’s 50th International Exhibiton . She has exhibited internationally, including at the Triennial of the Silicate Arts in Hungary, San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design, National Liberty Museum, Alexandria Museum of Art, and twice in the Crocker Art Museum’s prestigious Crocker-Kingsley Biennial. As an educator she has taught at top institutions such as Pratt Fine Arts Center and Pittsburgh Glass Center. She serves as Board President of the Glass Alliance of Northern California, was as a Board Member of the Glass Art Society, and is the President of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.

Theofanous and Bensen met in 2004, and their friendship soon evolved into a partnership, both in and outside of the studio. In 2017, during an artist residency at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, they began to merge their sculptural works culminating with an exhibition of woven glass wall tapestries titled Intertwined. Their collaborative work is now represented by some of the country’s finest galleries, has been exhibited at numerous museums, and is in the permanent collection of the Imagine Museum and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

Says Theofanous: “Technique merges with narratives in our work, to express metaphorical bridges between nature and human beings. Inspired by the storytelling tradition of woven tapestry and basketry, I see myself as weaving with glass to connect the viewer with the story of the natural world. Through the delicate leaves in each piece, I seek to depict the cycle of life: growth, discovery, change and renewal. I use the fluidity and fragility of glass to express the beauty and vulnerability inherent in the human experience.” 

Theofanous and Bensen will have a solo exhibition at Trifecta Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky, in fall of 2023.

 

Apr 26, 2023

world-renowned glass artist located in Washington State, Phil Siegel developed his own unique understanding of flameworked glass without any formal education or apprenticeship. With an extensive background in construction and education in architecture, he challenges himself to create a relationship between fantasy and structure throughout his pieces while relating to his spiritual, intellectual, and emotional self. 

Born in 1972 in Petaluma, California, Siegel developed a career as a general contractor designing and building high-end homes, working with clients from the ground up. In 2008 the economy crashed, banks stopped loaning money, and people stopped building houses. Out of work and experiencing his first winter off in years, Siegel began exploring a book he’d purchased 18 years earlier – Intro to Glassblowing by Homer Hoyt. 

In 2010, at age 38, Siegel took his first classes in flameworking pipes, something he’d wanted to do since seeing basic spoon pipes at a Grateful Dead show years prior. As a busy contractor, he had no idea how pipe art had evolved over the years, and his fellow students suggested he check out Instagram for education and inspiration. Siegel eventually progressed in his own torch skills to the point where the owner of the studio where he was taking classes, Dustin Revere at Revere Glass in Berkeley, offered him a job. Siegel worked there for five months before opening his own studio. His early glass included sculptural pieces adorned in classical line work, horns, symmetrical builds that were classically inspired, and bumblebee rigs. But perhaps one of his most successful series began six years into his glass career. When Siegel’s wife suggested he make a pipe for himself, the artist created a wizard figure based on a Christmas gnome he’d made as an ornament. 

He states: “I posted it as a goof really. I never thought people would enjoy it so much. But there was nobody making a wizard pipe at that time. And the more that I made, the more people requested them. It was the first time I made something that wasn’t an exercise in discipline. I came from a world that rewarded precision, symmetry, proper planning. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience making something whimsical and fun. It was hard for me to begin with. I’m thankful for the wizards more than anything, because they allowed me to find that more childlike part of myself when it comes to the creative process.”

An avid reader of Joseph Campbell, archetypes resonate with Siegel. When he noticed that pipe artists weren’t utilizing traditional art space – walls – the artist created a series of shallow shadowbox pieces featuring fish in 3D movement. These works frame pipes in a new way while telling a story. Siegel was inspired by a legend involving a huge school of golden Koi swimming upstream the Yellow River in China. Gaining strength by fighting against the current, the school glimmered as they swam together through the river. When they reached a waterfall at the end of the river, many of the Koi turned back, letting the flow of the river carry them away. The remaining Koi refused to give up. Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall to no avail. Their efforts caught the attention of local demons, who mocked their efforts and heightened the waterfall out of malice. After a hundred years of jumping, one Koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. The gods recognized the Koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength.

“I’m intrigued by folklore in general because it’s specifically tailored for each culture but is also globally understood by humanity,” explains Siegel. “All cultures share archetypes – hero, martyr, pariah. These stories are universal and touch on many of the same motifs. They warn or inspire. They’re equally powerful, and people gravitate toward both.”

Describing himself as “more rigid in the way he thinks things through,” Siegel is currently working on a project that required 200 hours of prep. One of his ancient Lost Gods series, the Feathered Serpent is a prominent supernatural entity or deity, found in many Mesoamerican religions. It is still called Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs. The double symbolism used by the Feathered Serpent is considered allegoric to the dual nature of the deity, where being feathered represents its divine nature or ability to fly to reach the skies and being a serpent represents its human nature or ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth, a dualism very common in Mesoamerican deities. 

Says Siegel: “Snake motifs, bird motifs, these Gods are inspired by multidimensional beings that passed into this dimension to share knowledge and help humanity evolve.” 

On 4/20, Siegel had a solo show at Fuego Smoke Shop called Conjuring Clouds. From January 30 – February 3, 2023, he, Lacey (Laceface) Walton, and Chris (Hickory) Vickers collaborated at the Coring Museum of Glass studio, employing advanced flameworking techniques that included complex assembly of hollow forms and finely detailed solid sculptural elements, which came together into a compositional sculpture. This work incorporated each artist’s individual style into a seamlessly blended idea. From May 18 – 20, Siegel and LaceFace will co-teach a class at Orlando Glass Union, Orlando, Florida.

Says Siegel: “The most exciting things going on in glass right now are happening in the pipe world. We are not constricted by traditional ideals of art. It’s pulled from a nexus of popular imagery from our own small community and larger cultural elements. These things aren’t really being expressed in much of any of the other glass that’s being made. The pipe community has a lot of pretty far-reaching ideas.”

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 10