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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.
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Your Podcast Source for Interviews and Information on

Hot, Warm and Cold Glass!

www.glassartmagazine.com

Oct 15, 2021

Well-known early on for their signature blown glass Bags, the subsequent cast glass work of John Littleton and Kate Vogel provided a new outlet for complex contemplations, questions and reflections. In this dramatic departure from their lighthearted Bags, faces and hands are used in various poses and combinations to explore states of mind, relationships, and even spiritual themes. Cast arms with hands in amber glass hold a brilliant jewel-cut form, which seems to spread its glowing light to all that surrounds it.

Use of multiple techniques by Littleton and Vogel reveals an intimate understanding of their medium, and the execution of each work reflects artists deserving of their place at the top of the contemporary glass movement. Not only visually stunning, their sculpture allows the viewer to create a narrative, each piece a captured moment in a story of the viewers’ choosing.

They state: “As we focus on each form, we see possibilities for the next, and our vocabulary of form and ideas expands. We bounce ideas back and forth, we build on each other’s concepts, and we learn from each other’s insights. Collaboration brings our individual sensibilities together to generate something neither of us would have made alone. “

Littleton and Vogel are nationally renowned American Studio Glass Movement artists who work and reside in Bakersville, North Carolina. Their creative partnership began in the mid-to-late 20th century, when they began collaborating on their first glass pieces in 1979 after meeting as art students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. 

Creating sculptural blown and cast glass works and installations that speak to the importance of their relationships to one another, their family, and their community, Littleton and Vogel currently exhibit their works in Between Us: A Retrospective Exhibition of Work by John Littleton and Kate Vogel at the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah, Wisconsin. On view now through February 13, 2022, the exhibition is accompanied by a perfect bound 84-page publication with essays by Casey Eichhorn, exhibition curator, and Susie J. Silbert, Curator of Postwar and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass. 

“This retrospective exhibition highlights important works, milestones, and innovations in their shared careers,” says Casey Eichhorn, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions,” – all while tying their experiences and influences back to John’s father, Harvey Littleton, an American glass artist, educator, and one of the founders of the American Studio Glass Movement.” 

Harvey Littleton, whose influential work will also be shown in the exhibition, is often referred to as the “Father of the Studio Glass Movement.” In his role as an educator, he initiated the first hot glass program offered by an America University at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and promoted the idea of glass as a course of study in university art departments in the United States. Littleton’s students went on to become the dominant figures in the American Studio Glass Movement while broadening the study of glass art and university-level hot glass programs throughout the U.S. 

John Littleton states: “Harvey introduced glass as a medium for artists. The Toledo workshops were dad’s idea. He had help from Norm Schuman and later Dominic Labino. The workshops wouldn’t have happened without him. He certainly had help developing technique, but more than anyone else he saw the possibility of putting glass in the hands of artists. The industrial model was designers who worked on paper passing the design to the factory worker who had little expressive input. There were artist craftsmen and women who worked with glass individually, but dad pursued the idea of glass being available to art students. The early years were a time he pushed to get glass into universities to expand glass’s creative and expressive potential. He saw the need for many artists working with glass for the growth of the field.”

Littleton and Vogel’s work has appeared in several group exhibitions including the Sculpture Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) in Chicago and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. Their glass works can also be seen in private and public collections in North America, Europe, and Asia. Locations include the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, AR; the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts in Switzerland; Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark; the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA. Features on their work have appeared in various publications—such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and CBS Sunday Morning. 

Littleton and Vogel state: “Choice, chance, circumstance, seductive qualities of the material…a little bit of all of the above. We stay with glass because it feels right. The process allows us to collaborate, start to finish. Glass is versatile, and we see endless possibilities in it and through it. In our work we strive to make something that is a personal expression of our thoughts and experiences.”

 

Oct 7, 2021

Inspired by Cycladic fertility icons, early Byzantine paintings, and folk art, Robin Grebe’s figures serve as a canvas or setting for her narratives. Through these elegant and often autobiographical cast glass busts, she explores the universal quest to understand the directions our lives. Imagery from the natural world represents peaceful beauty, but also speaks to uncharted territory and the unknown. Using birds and plants as metaphors for mythic flight, spirituality, the intangible, and nature’s uncontrollable forces, Grebe transforms her personal search into a shared exploration.

She says: “I have always worked figuratively; in some ways my sculptures are autobiographical. They help me process my thoughts, ideas and changes in life. The sculptures usually incorporate images from the natural world. These images serve as a metaphor to both our fragility as well as our resilience in our personal/emotional/spiritual world and in the larger world itself.”

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1957, Grebe earned her MFA in Ceramics/Glass from Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and BFA in Ceramics from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, Massachusetts. She has taught glass and ceramics at the Massachusetts College of Art and Pilchuck Glass School, among others. Her exhibitions and collections include the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in Japan, the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey, the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Lowe Museum, Miami, Florida, and the Tucson Museum of Art in Tucson, Arizona, to name a few.

One of the things Grebe loves most about making her sculptures is working wet clay to make her sculptural form. She builds a plaster mold around that clay form, and once it has hardened, peels the clay out of the mold and fills the cavity with chunks of colored glass. It then gets fired in a kiln to melt the glass into the cavity. Once cooled the mold is chipped off the glass sculpture. The glass is then ground, sanded and polished into its final form. 

Using cast glass, ceramic glazes, and transparent enamels, Grebe creates her monolithic and allegorical human forms, which seem simultaneously fragile and strong. To her, they illustrate the paradoxes of human life. Recent exhibitions of this work include a 2019 solo show at Habatat Gallery, West Palm Beach, Florida, and the group show, In Her Voice: Influential Women in Glass, held at the Sandwich Art Museum, Sandwich, Massachusetts, in 2021. 

 

Oct 1, 2021

Ranging from the absurd to the edgy and aggressive, Joshua Opdenaker’s glass reflects his never-ending struggle for perfection in theory and execution. His art is not expressed solely through the finished piece, but rather the physical dance of creating it. Innovative techniques and concepts inspire contemplation via ever-changing themes, making JOP! glass impossible to classify and leaving it in a class of its own. 

Born in Philadelphia, Opdenaker graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA focus on stone carving in 2002. After years of carving stone, he began lampworking borosilicate glass in 2001 on the recommendation of his friend JAG. Flameworking became his technique of choice for sculpting, and the artist turned his focus to making glass pipes. While still an outlaw art form, the methods and creation were kept secret and not often spoken about in public places. Thus, he took on the moniker “JOP!” derived from an arrangement of his full name. In 2003, Opdenaker teamed up with Philadelphia Glass Works and became their permanent resident artist. 

After establishing his studio in Philly’s Fishtown, JOP! joined forces with Elbo in 2014 to open Front Street Gallery in Kensington, Philadelphia. The gallery endeavored to bring the city’s most influential, beloved glass artists into the limelight allowing fans and collectors to admire and purchase their newest work. It was essentially a who’s-who of modern flameworking, featuring Philly artists like Zach PuchowitzSnic BarnesMarble Slinger (of Degenerate Art fame), Just Another Glassblower, and more. Front Street Gallery helped put Philadelphia on the map as a destination for the ever-growing glassblowing movement. 

Invited to judge the 2019 European Flame Off in London, Opdenaker has exhibited his own pipes around the world, often blurring the line between pipes and sculpture. In 2008, represented by Silica Gallery, JOP glass was exhibited at SOFA, The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design fair.He creates in a broad range of styles to include his highly recognizable chicken rigs, medical series, giant cassette tapes, and his piece de resistance – The Baby Mecha Ganesh – a three-foot-tall, smokable baby with six arms. 

Opdenaker states: “If nothing else, view my work as original. Technique and craft can be learned, originality cannot. You either have it, or you do not.” 

The first in Philly’s Fishtown area to make a name for himself in the field, today there are at least five glass studios and 18 glassblowers on Opdenaker’s street alone. From group builds such as those of the Molten Art Classic to individual skill-building works such as goblets, JOP! glass’ pioneering spirit continues evolving with the scene. 

Sep 16, 2021

 

One of the leading ecclesiastical artists in the United States, Sylvia Nicolas is a member of an illustrious and prolific stained glass family. She is the fourth of five generations specializing in the liturgical arts and the daughter of Joep and Suzanne Nicolas, both famous artists who immigrated from the Netherlands to the U.S. in 1939 to escape the rising tide of Nazism. Joep Nicolas was sometimes referred to as “the Father of Modern Stained Glass.”

In 1996, Sylvia Nicolas completed 13 windows for the Basilica of St. Pancratius in Tubbergen, the Netherlands, for the Four Generations Foundation, which contains windows made by her great grandfather (Frans Nicolas, 1826-1894), grandfather (Charles Nicolas, 1859-1933) , father (Joep Nicolas, 1897-1972) and cousin. Her son and fifth generation Nicolas, Diego Semprun Nicolas, created the remaining 10 windows in 2002, finalizing this unprecedented multigenerational project. 

As a young artist, Nicolas was interested in costume design. She attended the Lycée Francais and the Dalton School in New York, the German Institute in Rome, and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques and Académie de la Grande Chaumière, both in Paris. She studied with Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo and Ossip Zadkine, French-Russian artist known for his figurative-Cubist sculptures. Throughout her career, Nicolas has designed costumes and sets for ballet productions in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Paris, France, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

From her studio in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, Nicolas has created commissions for monasteries, churches, hospitals, government buildings and public spaces. A few of her most successful stained glass projects include 10 windows for the Church of the Annunciation, Washington, D.C.; two large windows for St. Mary’s Chancery, Wichita, Kansas; 24 windows on the life of St. Benedict for the refectory of St. Anselm Abbey, Manchester, New Hampshire; 23 windows for Saints Philip and James Church in St. James (Long Island), New York; 47 windows for St. Dominic Chapel, Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island; and 19 windows for St. John’s University, Queens, New York. 

In addition to her work in stained glass, Nicolas is skilled in a wide range of other media including oil, pen, conte, sculpture, mosaic and mosaic garden sculpture, concrete relief and painted tiles. Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, is home to three of her bronze sculptures and a large mosaic in the sanctuary chapel.

The recipient of The 2019 Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Governor’s Art Award and the 2012 Barnes Lifetime Achievement Award, Nicolas is currently the focus of a Virginia Raguin essay to be published in an upcoming book about Franz Schroeder. Raguin is also working on a video interview of Nicolas for the American Glass Guild, an organization for which Nicolas serves as Senior Advisor.

In this conversation with Nicolas, the 93-year-old artist discusses recent windows created for St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Charlottesville, Virginia. She also reveals the secrets to her painting process, whether stained glass is an art or craft, and the importance of iconography and mythology in her work.

No matter the medium, Nicolas expresses the humanity of her subjects. Her focus on people, mingled with talent in a variety of media, allows her to produce art both delicate and evocative. “Foremost it is people I am concerned with, in whatever context. I’m a storyteller, really.” 

 

 

Sep 8, 2021

Crista Van Slyck-Matteson’s multi-media art speaks of her love for wild spaces and deep connection to the Pacific Northwest. An accomplished sculptor, she allows her finely-honed intuition to guide spontaneous sculpting of natural world observations. Matteson’s work also utilizes technical mold-making skills to create exact replicas of found botanical forms. She combines these skills to create magical-realist sculptures. 

Matteson states: “My sculptures live in a magical, narrative space between memories and imagination. A space that gives equal importance to the real and the imagined stories of the natural world. My interactions with the wilderness are woven into my themes. By creating stylized glass trophies, I am attempting to both capture the magical essence of untamed creatures that share my environment and honor them. With every outdoor adventure, I bring new inspiration into my studio.” 

She continues: “Forest Watcher Sees All is my latest series of kiln cast glass sculptures. These works spring from my observations and research into the connectedness of all living things. As a resident of one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, I see and feel the impact on our local ecosystem. I explore the idea of kinship to shed light on what this means for our collective future.”

After receiving a BFA in textiles from the California College of Art in San Francisco, Matteson began her varied art career in costume design. Since then, her pursuit of fine art education has been relentless. Having won several merit scholarships, the artist began to study glass and metal working at the Pratt Fine Art Center and figure sculpting in the Sculpture Atelier at Gage Academy, both in Seattle. In 2018 and 2019, she furthered her glass studies at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington.

Exhibited at fine art galleries, museums and public art installations across the US, Matteson’s work is represented by Bender Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina, the Museum of Glass, Washington State, and Habatat Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan. Her work was recognized with a Collector’s Choice Award from Habatat Gallery’s International Glass Exhibit and Juror’s Choice Awards at Mesa Contemporary Art Museum, the Schack Art Center, and Pratt Fine Art Center’s annual auction. Matteson was selected to exhibit notable glass work at the 2019 Pilchuck annual auction and in 2021 to create a large mixed media public installation for Amazon Headquarters in Seattle. Her teaching experience includes work as an assistant instructor at The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, and Pratt Fine Art Center.  

In recent months, Matteson has produced new sculpture for Bender Gallery and The Museum of Glass Store in Tacoma. New work was also created for Habatat Gallery’s 50th anniversary exhibition in Royal Oak, Michigan – Habatat’s Glass Art Fair – opening September 9, 2021.

https://www.glassartfair.com

On October 15, her studio will participate in the Glass Art Society’s Collectors Tour, held during this year’s Refract: Seattle Glass Experience. Tickets on sale through the Refract website (link below). On October 16, the artist will demonstrate and discuss her work during scheduled studio tours, also part of Refract.

She says: “I have explored many different mediums but didn’t fall in love with glass work until I realized it could be cast like bronze. Spontaneity of sculpting and carving wax feeds my intuitive, somewhat impulsive side. Making molds of natural objects, such as mushrooms, to be replicated in glass, feeds my need to catalogue the natural world around me. My hunger for a technical challenge is satisfied by the involved aspects of heating a solid glass into a liquid, and then forming, annealing, and cooling it. I enjoy engineering complex forms and pushing the limits of glass. Aesthetically, I feel the transparency of glass reflects the ethereal quality of our ecosystem and cautions the viewer to tread carefully.”

 

Aug 26, 2021

 

In his current work, glassblower Jason McDonald tells important stories about social inequality through his intentionally made, well-crafted objects. His successful interweaving of those two trajectories continues to evolve through life-changing experiences such as his participation on the popular Netflix competition series Blown Away 2 and his recent week-long Murano, Italy, study with Maestro Davide Fuin as the recipient of the Windgate-Lamar Fellowship. 

McDonald states: “My work takes two divergent paths. With one path, I craft objects that examine and critique, through a racial and economic lens, the inequalities that exist between black and white people in the United States. I cast my gaze on the disparities in the US from life expectancy, to the achievement gap, to the too frequent election of racist officials. I seek to spark a dialogue between viewers and their relationship with the ugly reality of a nation built on the backs of my ancestors, my family, and myself, while simultaneously demonizing us. I find personal power by expressing myself this way, as I attempt to understand and explain my lived experience as a person of African descent. By making this work I hope to shed light, for myself and my viewers, on what it means to be a black person in America today and a product of 400 years of racist ideology and policy making.”

He continues: “The other path is one where I explore my curiosity about the material of glass itself. My work often begins as a study of a specific technique, tool, or property of glass. I create iteratively, often focusing on a single idea for weeks at a time. More than technical pursuits alone, I might become fascinated with the optical quality of glass, or the weight of the material, or innovating new methods of making. The limitless nature of glass is fertile ground for exploration.”

An artist, gardener, and outdoor enthusiast living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, McDonald began in glass at age 14 through his participation in the Hilltop Artists program in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. Though he spent the majority of his glass career dedicated to the development of technical prowess, McDonald grew dissatisfied with being a maker only and finished his undergraduate degree at California College of the Arts in Oakland in 2018. Currently, he is enrolled as a graduate student in pursuit of an MFA degree at Tyler School of Art and Architecture. 

Each year, the Windgate-Lamar Fellowship identifies 10 graduating college seniors with exemplary skill in craft. Awardees receive $15,000 — one of the largest and most prestigious awards offered nationally to art students. A 2021 Windgate fellowship recipient, McDonald will exhibit new work at Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) in Full Spectrum: Visionaries Elevating Art, Craft, and Design on view February 4 – May 23, 2022. In the summer of 2022, he will teach at Penland School of Craft the first two weeks of July, at PGC from July 25 – 29 and at The Corning Museum of Glass the first week of August.

A self-described vessel maker, McDonald uses classic forms to study identity, racism and representation. For one of the challenges on Blown Away 2, he created a container resembling a calabash gourd, a shape he uses as an analog for people of African descent. Other McDonald vessels combine Swedish overlay technique and classic Greek vessel forms, engraved with the artist’s disturbing narrative – black men jailed, black men being shot in the back by police. His series of delicately blown glass goblets, Besieged, tells the story of a lack of representation of people of color in the glass community. “I want it to start a conversation, even if it’s just within themselves. That’s what I hope my art does for audiences.”

 

Aug 20, 2021

In 2014, glass artist, author, and craftsman Scott Ouderkirk published The Wind in the Islands, his adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, reworked for the Thousand Island area of the St. Lawrence River where he lives. To accompany his book, Ouderkirk designed and created stained and fused glass panels, depicting relevant moments in his story. 

The project was successful artistically, but also introduced a novel approach to marketing. By combining his skills as both author and artist, Ouderkirk’s The Wind in the Islands created an interdependent one-two punch of book and glass art sales. Local bookstores promoted the book, which resulted in increased glass sales. Glass panels on view at local exhibitions and at his gallery increased sales of the book. For the first time, his creations were bringing in money beyond the singular and initial sale of one object. 

Ouderkirk earned his BS in Technical/Vocational Education from State University of New York, Oswego, New York; his MA in illustration from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; and his MFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut. His other books include The Amish Secret, Fallen Heroes, Sunday Drive, The Adirondack Run, Island Images, Barns, and Wood, Waves and Wispy Smoke

Ouderkirk’s home and studio are located on River Road Farm, Hammond, New York. There, he and wife Mary Alice grow and raise their own food including vegetables, eggs, meat, honey, and cheese. On this self-sustaining homestead, you’re just as likely to see a bee hive as you are a stained glass panel. From repurposed parts of old wooden boats and barns, Ouderkirk built a place from which he created stained glass, although he now devotes most of his time to captaining wooden boats and hosting his YouTube channel on the subject under the name, Glass Goat. A love of the water and sea faring vessels is evident in early Ouderkirk panels, such as Gold Cup Races and Hacker Craft, his response to a call for entries for an exhibition at the Antique Boat Museum, in Clayton, New York. Hacker Craft paid homage to John Hacker and the wooden motorboat he invented, showcasing the blueprint of the vessel in the background. 

The beauty of nature that surrounds River Road Farm was a constant source of inspiration for Ouderkirk’s autonomous panels such as Hen House, created for the American Glass Guild’s American Glass Now 14 exhibition. This combination panel of warm and cold glass techniques features two big chickens, fused and painted with Reusche paints, Gum Arabic, and water. Four chickens in nesting boxes, the earth, and two chickens coming out of a barn door were created from silver stained and painted window glass. 

In July 2015Ouderkirk exhibited The Queen in American Glass Now 2015, the AGG juried members’ exhibition displayed at the National Cathedral, Washington D.C. The Queen, his stunning painted, fused and layered glass interpretation of a queen beeis a collaboration with Marty Snye, blacksmith and beekeeper, and Lorraine Austin, who contributed design ideas and blew the glass ball that serves as the jewel atop The Queen’s crown. 

In this ToYG interview, Captain Ouderkirk discusses his successful combination of fusing and stained glass in autonomous panels, unique marketing ideas and suggestions for stained glass artists, thoughts on the creative process regardless of genre, and his love of wooden boats and boating.

 

Aug 12, 2021

Susan Taylor Glasgow: The Way Things Never Were

Susan Taylor Glasgow’s work embraces feminine ideals of sensuality in a seductive but unforgiving material, offering conflicting messages of comfort and expectation. Some of her sculpture pays tribute to the era of June Cleaver and Betty Crocker via images appropriated from the world of ‘50s and ‘60s television and advertising. The bustier forms of Chandelier Dresses and the sensuous detailed perfection of lingerie sets present fantasies, reminding us of the way things never were. Sewing, cooking and arranging glass, Glasgow attempts to reconcile the conflict over work and home, feminist ideals and the Madonna complex, duty and fulfillment. 

She says: “In a way, my work is the result of homemaking skills gone awry. I have always embraced domesticity in spirit, but not in action. My life as an artist puts housekeeping last while instead I cook and sew glass. My internal domestic struggle has led me to examine the concept of domestic expectations and traditional roles of men and women. I am intrigued by 1950s imagery and the false perception of simpler times.”

Born in Superior, Wisconsin, Taylor Glasgow grew up just across the tip of Lake Superior, in Duluth, Minnesota. She attended the University of Iowa, graduating in 1983 with a BFA in Design. After working in graphic design for a short period, the artist returned to the sewing skills passed on to her by her mother, opening a wildly successful dressmaking shop, On Pins & Needles, which she owned and ran from 1984 to1997 in Iowa City, Iowa, and Columbia, Missouri. In 1997, the artist sold the dressmaking shop to pursue her interest in art, focusing on glass. 

Utilizing her skills as a seamstress, Glasgow developed a unique approach to glass, stitching glass components together. Each sculpture starts out as a flat sheet of glass. To establish the three-dimensional shape and holes, sections of glass are kiln-fired several times. To create the imagery, text and figures are sandblasted into the glass and pigment is rubbed into the sandblasted area to create the black and gray photo. Then the glass is fired again to 1250 degrees to melt the pigment into the glass. Once cooled, the sections are coldworked, given a final sandblasting and then assembled. Redefining “woman’s work” in non-traditional mediums, the artist creates complex forms and imagery while exploring the dichotomy of women and societal expectations. 

Glasgow received Pilchuck Glass School’s emerging artist grant in 2002, a WheatonArts fellowship in 2003, and was a resident artist at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in 2008. Her work can be found in the collections of the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR; the Alexander Tutsek Foundation, Münich, Germany; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, PA; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; and the Museum of American Glass, Millville, NJ. 

Glasgow says: “I think viewers respond to my work on many levels – first to its initial form and visual appeal, and there’s a secondary impact once the viewer gets a closer look. An example might be the corset series. The shape of the corset is appealing to both men and women for different reasons. Once the work is examined closer, a deeper understanding of the piece is revealed. Women respond to my work in the way the message is intended — exploring the dichotomy of women in the household and domestic expectations — while men respond to the work’s sensual qualities. I think for the most part it is because not much has changed for women in the household. Most women are the main caregivers and housekeepers, while still trying to uphold the expected requirement of being glamorous and sexy.”

Working from her new studio in Columbia, Missouri, Glasgow currently has work on view in a group show at Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe, and will participate in Habatat Galleries’ 50th Anniversary Exhibition, opening September 17, 2021, while working towards securing a solo museum show in the future.

 

Aug 6, 2021

Remembering Benjamin Moore: Heart of the Seattle Glassmaking Scene 

Seattle glass art legend Benjamin Moore died on June 25, 2021. He was 69. His passing has been a shock to the glass community — both locally and beyond — evidenced by outpourings of sadness from such institutions as the American Craft CouncilUrbanGlassTacoma Art Museum and Pilchuck Glass School, where Olympia-born Moore took a class in 1974 (a college graduation gift from his parents).

A seminal figure in establishing Seattle as a contemporary glass center, Moore provided his studio and top-notch glassblowing team to make the work of the world’s finest artists and designers. The groundbreaking art produced on King Street at Benjamin Moore, Inc. (BMI) contributed both to the glass arts and the art world at large. But the true gift of art making within this supportive community is the camaraderie and lifelong friendships born out of such a unique creative environment. This is the lifeblood of the Seattle glass experience.

Said Moore, in our 2013 conversation: “The one thing I learned from Dale (Chihuly) that made a profound impact on me and has always been a part of my career is the joy of working with others. The camaraderie of our community here, working with one another and supporting each other, is huge. Dante Marioni and Preston Singletary both came to work for me out of high school, and when I look at their careers now, I’m the proudest guy in the world.”

Moore served as Chihuly’s primary gaffer from 1975 to 1982 and was the first educational coordinator at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, beginning in 1977. Following graduate studies with Chihuly at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Moore went to work at the Venini Glass Factory in Murano, Italy. In 1978 he brought the Italians to Pilchuck for the first time to demonstrate time-honored techniques rarely seen by US artists. For the Americans, this exposure resulted in a dramatic increase in the sophistication of works produced and further entrenched the value and process of working glass as a team.

Though Moore dedicated much of his career to making Chihuly’s work, their aesthetic approach to glass, form, and color could not be more different. In his own work, Moore reveals a Modernist sensibility reflected in pure geometric forms and simple colors. Translucent, a solo exhibition held at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, from February 2012 though October 2013, presented a selection of his masterpieces that simultaneously evoke aspects of historical tradition and the refinement of a unique contemporary aesthetic.

Inspired by Scandinavian ceramics of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Moore’s objects in glass possess a timelessness achieved by the artist’s focus on color, shape, and proportion. By altering the way light interacts with the work through opacity, translucency, and transparency, he created different impressions for each series of his work. The fundamental concern and focus of his own work was to achieve simplicity, balance, and clarity of form.

He said: “If you think of trying to blow something off hand on the round, historically almost everything had already been done. To come up with something fresh and totally new with those parameters was almost impossible.” 

Almost. Moore’s The Interior Fold Series (1975) incorporates the technique of folding the transparent glass onto itself. The ancient Romans used this technique as a utilitarian detail in the vessel form, giving the piece added thickness. “I use this folding technique as a design or aesthetic element. In this series, I combine this folding technique with a horizontal plane of glass, which is spun out from the fold. The spiral wrap on the horizontal plane emphasizes the circular form.” 

Moore’s Palla Series (1983) was developed and based on the simple spherical form “palla” – the Italian word for ball. In this series, the sphere functions as the foot of the form as well as the focal point. “I use contrasting opaque colors to draw attention to the contrasting geometric elements. These forms are created generally in pairs, accentuating the horizontal and vertical lines. However, the bowl does stand strongly on its own.”

In the Exterior Fold Series (1978), Moore uses a similar technique to that of the Interior Fold Series. The difference being the exterior fold creates a hollow ring on the outside of the piece. This fold is used as the breaking point between the concave curve and the convex curve in the blown form. These pieces are generally displayed in groupings, and the translucent colors vary from subtle to bold.

This podcast was created from an interview with Moore recorded in 2013 and retrieved from the ToYG archives.

From Team Pilchuck

Moore was a visionary artist, an inspiring mentor, and a once-in-a-lifetime friend. Many of you knew and loved him, and many more of you have been touched by the steadfast and collaborative leadership he brought to our community over the past 50 years.

We are all deeply saddened by Benny’s recent passing, and we know how eager you are to show your care and support for Benny’s beloved wife Debora, their daughter Jasmyn, and the rest of their family.

Friends of the Moores have set up a GoFundMe page to honor Benny’s memory and assist Debora in this sad and difficult time. We want to share it with you now—if you are able, please consider contributing. Gifts of any amount are much appreciated as the family grieves and works to honor Benny’s incredible legacy.

 

Jul 21, 2021

Mark Peiser: The Moving Target of Perfection

Since 1967 when Mark Peiser became involved with the Studio Glass Movement, he has been recognized for his uniquely individualized approaches and accomplishments in glass. Continual investigation of the expressive implications of glass properties and processes has led to his distinctive bodies of work. Recently Peiser published the book, Thirty-Eight Pieces of Glass – with Related Thoughts, pairing his glass with brief writings of resonance. 

To quote from the preface: “Since I began with glass 50 years ago, I’ve received countless questions asking, basically, what’s it about? In that discussion I’ve tried to answer honestly and completely but I’ve always felt to have fallen short – short of the words and short of the voice that would say them. When I started to assemble this book, I began feeling much more truthful and satisfying answers to that question. I hope you will, too. That these selections sorted out into something of an abridged life story was a bit of a surprise to me. It shouldn’t have been. All along I’ve said my work has been about my feelings and experiences and, over many years, what else is a life?” 

Peiser, an internationally known glass artist, was born in Chicago in 1938. After studying electrical engineering at Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana, 1955-1957), he received a Bachelor of Science in Design from Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois, 1961). Peiser studied piano and composition at DePaul University School of Music (Chicago, Illinois, 1965-1967) before attending Penland School of Crafts (Penland, North Carolina) in 1967. After five weeks of glass classes, he became the first resident craftsman in glass at the school. Peiser is a founder of the Glass Art Society, of which he is now an honorary member, and a leading presence in the Studio Glass Movement.

Inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council in 1988, Peiser received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass in 2004, the North Carolina Governor’s Award in 2009, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society in 2010 and the North Carolina Living Treasure Award in 2011, among others. He has exhibited worldwide and is in many public and private collections including the Asheville Art Museum, the Chrysler Museum of Art, The Corning Museum of Glass, the Glassmuseum Ebeltoft, the Lucerne Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Museum of Art and Design, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, among others.

By challenging established formulas and techniques throughout his career, Peiser has created and combined new and unusual colors in his glass sculptures. This approach to glass is radical as he has literally invented new glasses in order to pursue an idea through to creation. In 2009, a special glass formulation was created by melting opal glasses for his Palomar series of sculptures that pay homage to Corning Glass Works’ famous 200-inch Disk, the telescope mirror cast in 1934 for the Mt. Palomar Observatory in California. Currently, Peiser is working on the Marko Blanko Project to develop a specialty glass for filigrana.

Peiser’s work highlights include:

EARLY WORKS  1967 – 1977

Develops blowing skills, designs and builds various furnaces and equipment, develops formulations for crystal, various opal and luster glasses. Produces iridescent miniatures, gather pots, flower forms, spaghetti bowls, copper core vessels, opaque geometric and image vessels.

PAPERWEIGHT VASES (PWV) 1975 – 1981

Introduces and develops torch working techniques for furnace blown work allowing more detailed imagery and perspective. Produces Paperweight Vases portraying natural subjects and landscapes, urban views and abstract imagery related to the vessel form.

INNERSPACE (IS) 1983 – 1994

Develops graphite molding process and casting glasses. Makes compound cast glass pieces that compose the internal volume of solid transparent forms. Produces Innerspace series including Ascensions, Hands, Light Beams, Moons, Mountain Skyscapes, Muses, Planets and Polychrome Progressions.

FORMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS (FOC) 1994 – 2004

Develops bottom pour casting furnace, casting and mold techniques, and glass formulae allowing larger scale work representing psychological conditions.

CONTRITION SECOND STUDY (CSS) 2000 – 2004

Produces a limited edition of 50 as a learning experience to formulate and develop casting process for controlled translucency in sculptural glass.

COLDSTREAM CASTING (CSC) 2001 – 2007

A creative use of my bottom pour furnace. My most fun in a glass shop since 1969. View videos of the Coldstream Casting process on You Tube by searching Mark Peiser.

PALOMAR  2008 – 2012

Develops vermiculite molding process. Produces Palomar series as a tribute to the accomplishment of the Palomar Mirror in 1934. For more about the Palomar series and the transition to the Passage and Etudes Tableau, search You Tube for Mark Peiser’s Corning Museum of Glass talk.

 PASSAGES AND ETUDES TABLEAU  2012 – PRESENT

Refines formulation and heat treatment of light scattering glasses. Produces work whose subject is light.

Now, more than a half century later, Peiser’s name is synonymous with invention and precision. He conveyed to ToYG podcast: “Most of my earliest memories are of making things. I seem to have a knack for seeing how things work, how things go together, and how to make it. If I have a gift, that’s it.

“When I was in design school, I became concerned with the essence of quality. Read some books and papers, sat through some lectures, and developed a somewhat subconscious but deep commitment for my life’s efforts. Later working in industry, design and advertising it was difficult to impossible to implement quality. At my level it was irrelevant and deeply unsatisfying. When I happened into Penland and the beginning of the Studio Glass Movement, the control offered by the notion of a one-man glass studio seemed an avenue that could lead to quality. I’ve done my best to hold to that path throughout my career. All in all, I’ve been successfully self- employed for 57 years. As we all hope, with the rest of life, I did the best I could at the time. But unlike the rest of life, I could disappear a bad piece like it never happened. 

“Being an artist is not just another job. It’s a commitment.”

 

Jul 15, 2021

Kim Thomas: The Escape and Beyond

A prolific borosilicate flameworker producing highly recognizable works in functional and sculptural glass, Kim Thomas aka Zii is changing the face of flameworking. From detailed and realistic human teeth and severed finger pipes to her latest kinetic sculpture, the artist is redefining what is possible at the torch. From January – April, 2021, recent works The Cloud Capturing Apparatus and The Cloud Riding Contraption were exhibited in Glass in The Expanded Field at the Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey. 

Thomas also participated in Hunterdon’s companion symposium, Pipe Art: Understudied Glass, which considered the glass pipe as a fluid work of art fundamental to the art history of glass. Celebrated artists Dan Coyle and Luken Sheafe, whose artist name is SALT, presented their intensely wrought, figural, and in the case of Thomas, sometimes kinetic, pipes. Joined by Susie J. Silbert, Curator at the Corning Museum of Glass, these artists further contextualized their work within the burgeoning field of pipe-making. 

Following graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in ceramics, Thomas attended The Make Up Designory and later worked as an assistant to award-winning special effects make-up artist Kevin Haney. In 2009, when she answered an advertisement for a studio apprentice in North Hollywood, California, Thomas discovered her passion for flameworking. With lessons from her studio mates and observation she quickly learned the medium and turned her practice into a career.

Now making work from the Urban Pheasant Glass Studio, Detroit, Michigan, Thomas is a former professor of glass at Salem Community College in New Jersey, and guest instructor at various schools and studios including Penland School of Craft, Snow Farm, and the Pilchuck School of Glass. She has demonstrated her techniques at The International Flameworking Conference and The Glass Art Society Conference, and exhibits her work in museums and galleries across the United States. Her attention to detail and regard for realism have resulted in a highly recognizable aesthetic signature. In a world where the inherent beauty of glass is regularly exploited, Thomas relies on a gritty realism to set her work apart. Few, if any, artists create similar work. 

As Thomas continues to work on The Escape series –  she prepares to teach classes at Penland School of Craft, July 18 – August 2 and Snow Farm from August 8 – 13. Both classes are full with waiting lists. She will also participate in an emerging artist residency at Pilchuck Glass School, October 6 – November 22, 2021. 

Nicknamed after her classic 1978 Camaro Z28, Zii believes the most creative and engaging work is influenced by the things that find their way into your dreams. She says: “It’s easy with pipemaking to get pigeonholed into making one type of piece –- if you’re doing it as a living, you have to please your fans and make things they will buy. As an artist, if you want to grow and develop, and have some sort of message, you can’t just make one thing over and over.” 

 

Jul 9, 2021

Norwood Viviano: Understanding Our Place in Time

Using tools of mapping and materials of industry Norwood Viviano makes installations and sculptures that consider various social and environmental factors leading to population changes in American cities. His most recent series, Re-Cast Cities, continues his exploration of the cross-sections of geography, cartography and history, merging urban landscapes with the symbols of industry that have fueled their booms, busts and builds. 

Heller Gallery’s March 2021 Re-Cast Cities exhibition documented the first eight pieces made in this series focusing on Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, (OR), Toledo and White Mills, (PA). Curator and writer Sarah Darro called the project “a radical reconsideration of cartography that inflects Viviano’s ongoing analysis of the rise and fall of American manufacturing with an experimental energy geared towards the future.”  

Viviano received a BFA from Alfred University and an MFA in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work is represented in the collections of major museums in the US, Europe and Asia. His work has been shown at the Venice Architectural Biennale (2014), Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX (2013); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2015), Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (2016), Bellevue Art Museum (2016), Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2016), MOCA Jacksonville (2017), Boise Art Museum (2018) as well as at Stanze de Vetro in Venice, Italy (2020). Recent solo exhibitions include Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids, MI (2015); Heller Gallery, New York, NY (2011, 2014, 2018 and 2021); Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk VA (2016) and Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, NY (2017-18). Viviano is an associate professor and sculpture program coordinator at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Awards and residencies include the 2019 Corning Museum of Glass, David Whitehouse Research Residency for Artists; visiting artist residencies in 2017 and 2010 at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; inclusion in CMOG’s New Glass Review #16, #22, #33, #36, and #38; a 2016 fellowship at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center – Creative Glass Center of America, Millville, NJ; the 2014 Pilchuck Glass School John H. Hauberg Fellowship; the Venice Biennale, Best Exhibition Award, from Global Art Affairs Foundation; and the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence, GVSU, Catalyst Grant for Research and Creativity.

The result of Viviano’s 2017 Visiting Artist Residency at the Museum of Glass, Cities Underwater focused attention from population and cartographic shifts of the past to the future. The artist conceived the project to visualize the dramatic loss of land predicted to occur in the next 500 years in areas that some 127 million Americans call home. The adaptation needed to mitigate the impending changes that will affect our lives, history and culture is massive. The Cities Underwater work is aimed at keeping this conversation alive and not forgoing it for short-term convenience or gain.

The installation was comprised of 16 sets of nesting glass cylinders, which represent 16 coastal cities in the United States. Using existing LiDAR data and scientific projections, Viviano showed the projected loss of land mass due to sea level rise in Boston, Galveston, Miami Beach, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, Newark, New York, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, St. Petersburg and Tacoma. Each set was accompanied by vinyl cut drawings and animation, which provided additional data.

For Mining Industries, Viviano utilized digital 3D computer modeling and printing technology in tandem with glass blowing and casting processes to create work depicting population shifts tied to the dynamic between industry and community. By showing how landscapes and populations move and are modified as a result of industry, his work creates a 3D lens to view that which is invisible or forgotten. His use of blown glass forms and vinyl cut drawings are micro-models of macro changes at the regional, national, and international level. 

Viviano says: “I find myself looking at the world as a surveyor – telling stories through objects. Stepping back and researching how pieces fit together gives me the opportunity to consider the impact of the component parts. Conversations with specialists in a range of disciplines — historians, urban planners, demographers, climate scientists and statisticians — deepen my engagement with the subject matter and the complexity of my work. My artistic intention is to better understand our place in time by focusing on land use through pictorial imagery and on industrial growth and decline through population studies that also ask questions about the present and future of communities. My installations and objects encourage individuals to make connections and ask questions about the interconnectivity between their and other communities. 

He continues: “My material choice of glass is meant to demonstrate the fragility of populations. I hope my work asks people to examine their own histories of migration, from personal and communal standpoints, just as it continues to help me navigate and explore my own.”  

Viviano will teach a one-week 3D printing and mold making workshop at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass, CO, July 19-23, 2021. For more information

andersonranch.org

 

Jun 25, 2021

Dan Friday’s Future Artifacts

Creativity was fostered in Dan Friday by his family from an early age. Growing up immersed in the rich cultural heritage of the Lummi Nation meant that making things with his hands was a regular activity. Typically working with simple themes and forms, the artist often employs subtle silhouettes when making his glass totems. His more narrative work reflects a personal expression or means of processing a life event, often with an underlying statement. His latest works will be on view at the Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, Washington, in Future Artifacts, on view July 3 – October 10, 2021.

Friday says: “As the recipient of the Bill Holm Grant from the Burke Museum, with my sister I have been studying Coast Salish artifacts in their archives. It is a surreal experience to hold items of your oldest known family members, even see their handwriting on treasured belongings. With all of the information, images, and data I have already catalogued, I hope to make inspired pieces of glass: the Skexe (Coast Salish wooly Dog) Blanket Panels, and The Sxwo’le (Reef Net) projects, to mention a few. It will be my way to document not only my family’s history, but the artwork of the Coast Salish people. Glass is a medium that will survive millennia, and a great way to tell a story to future generations. It is, metaphorically, a contemporary painting on the cave wall.” 

He continues: “The preparation for this show at MoNA has already given me great satisfaction, not just the physical act of producing these works, but the connections I have made within the beautiful and resilient Coast Salish community.”  

https://www.monamuseum.org/future-artifacts

A lifelong resident of Washington State’s Puget Sound region, Friday maintains an independent glass studio in Seattle. He has worked for Dale Chihuly at the Boathouse Studio since 2000 as a glass blower collaborating with other studio staff on Chilhuly glass designs. This experience helped Friday expand and perfect technical skills in glass working and increased his insight into the relationship and interaction between artist and the public. Working at Pilchuck Glass School since 2006 as a teacher, gaffer, and coordinator for the hot shop and wood and metals departments, Friday has fabricated and facilitated works for international artists. He has also assisted James Mongrain since 2009 on various glass blowing projects, domestically and abroad. 

Working at Tacoma Glass Museum since 2004, Friday is part of a specialized team of glass sculptors, demonstrating a variety of methods to educate the public about the medium of glass. He has also collaborated and assisted prominent artists in the creation of major glass art commissions and installations, including James Drake, Nicolas Africano, Wendy Maruyama, and Charles Ledray, to name a few. As personal assistant for Paul Marioni, Friday cast and cold worked glass tiles for a large-scale installation. 

Friday has taught at the University of Washington, Pilchuck Glass School, and the Haystack Craft Center. He has been awarded residencies at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Corning Museum in New York, and the Dream Community in Tai Pei, Taiwan. He is the recipient of the Bill Holm Grant, the People’s choice award from the Bellevue Art Museum, and the Discovery Fellowship through the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.

Represented by Blue Rain Gallery (Santa Fe), Stonington Gallery (Seattle), Ainsley Gallery (Toronto), Habatat (West Palm, Florida), and Schantz (Stockbridge, Massachusetts), Friday’s work in glass is contemporary in format while maintaining Native American qualities. Cultivating his artistic vision with strong influence from his indigenous roots in the Pacific Northwest, the artist allows craft, form and idea to drive his work from conception to object. 

 

Jun 17, 2021

Ian Chadwick: The Aesthetic of Order

Many teachings describe sacred geometry as the blueprint of creation and the origin of all form. This ancient science explores and explains the energy patterns that create and unify all things, and reveals the precise way that the energy of creation organizes itself. It is said that every natural pattern of growth or movement comes back to one or more geometric shapes. Ian Chadwick expresses his homage to sacred geometry by kilnforming colored glass strips that are deconstructed and reconstructed into symmetrical patterns similar to those seen in the rose windows of cathedrals and mandalas.

Chadwick says: “The inspiration behind my glass work comes from a love of optical art, traditional pattern-forming and an interest in sacred geometry – in particular the meditation symbols known as mandalas. Mandalas contain many of the principles important in the esoteric practice of geometry, utilized by craftsmen for centuries in the design of cathedrals and stained glass windows. In my most recent work, I am embodying the essence of mandalas into the patterns present within each individual hand-made piece of glassware. The techniques I use are similar to mosaic work, each individual point of color is an individual piece of glass arranged in a manner which produces a kaleidoscopic, op-art effect. The combination of colors, which I carefully choose, are designed to complement the pattern formed within the glass.”

Born on the Isle of Wight and after moving to a few locations, Chadwick finished his schooling in Banchory near Aberdeen, Scotland. He graduated from Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, in 1994 with an honors degree in Fine Art specializing in sculpture. Final artworks produced for his degree show in 1994 utilized glass and plastics to create sculpture which had op-art qualities and were deeply concerned with geometry and symmetry – artistic interests that continue today. In 1996 the artist pursued his interest in glass and worked for a number of years at a stained glass studio in Scotland, eventually working as a freelance window designer and traditional glass painter.

In 2001, Chadwick moved to Timperley in Cheshire, where over the next two years he taught himself glass fusing and kiln-forming techniques. In 2003, the artist established a business producing traditional glass craft and kiln-formed glass art.  Since then, he has developed an extensive portfolio of contemporary glassware, including items such as kaleidoscopes, glass bowls, glass platters, wall art, glass vases and other glass interior home wares. To survive lockdown, Chadwick launched a collection of smaller, more affordable bowls on his Instagram page. Initially planning to number each bowl CVD-1, CVD-2, up to CVD-19, the demand was so high that he is now working on CVD-72 and has a waiting list of over 50 people.

An internationally recognized kiln-formed glass artist and instructor, Chadwick is the winner of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers Award at the British Glass Biennale in 2019. He recently released a 30-minute YouTube tutorial, which attracted more than 10,000 views in 2 weeks. No longer viewable online, it is in the final stages of production and will be released by Bullseye Glass Co. later this year as part of the company’s new online teaching program. Attracting a loyal following among the US kiln-forming scene, Chadwick also has a strong collector base in the US boro glass scene with pieces of his work in the collections of well-known functional glass artists including Eusheen, Kaj Beck, Marcel Braun, Adam Reetz and Calmbo. 

Chadwick’s ritualized process of making is employed to bring the essence of mandalas into the symmetrical glass patterns, which have become his unique aesthetic signature. As his work progresses, he continues to investigate different pattern forming techniques and new ways to engage with the viewer. He says: “The production of the patterns requires a high level of accuracy and patience. Once formed, they are fired in the kiln up to three times in total and go through extensive cold-working using diamond abrasives to ensure the best quality finish. Each piece of glass I manufacture is a unique work of glass art.”

 

Jun 10, 2021

Daniel S. Coyle: When Functional Becomes Sentimental

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 10 years of being a full-time pipe maker with an exhibition at Ziggy’s in Huntington Beach, California. Decade Arcadia featured new work, collabs and early pieces from Coyle’s personal collection.

He says: “Often my work is playful in nature and can remind you of toys. I guess I like to bring the viewer (or user) back to their childhood and also remind them to not take life so seriously. Why pipes? Making an object into a pipe will allow someone to bond with that object. They will have experiences with it, develop a relationship with it, and in time it will become more than a piece in their collection—it will become sentimental.” 

Coyle began blowing glass in 2003 while taking a workshop with artist Jerry Kelly. As his interest in the craft developed, he pursued education in glass working techniques at Salem Community College, the only school in the US with a program dedicated to scientific glassblowing. Graduating in 2006, the artist began his career as a laboratory glassblower for a chemical company, leaving after five years to pursue his artistic vision in glass pipes. 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.

In March 2021, Coyle participated in a virtual seminar sponsored by Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey. Pipe Art: Understudied Glass considered the glass pipe as a fluid work of art fundamental to the art history of glass. Sometimes demoted by law or public opinion to the category of “paraphernalia,” the artwork of the pipe nonetheless defies its sometimes categorization as sub-sculpture. Celebrated artists Kim Thomas and Coyle, whose works were featured in the accompanying exhibition, and Luken Sheafe, whose artist name is SALT, presented their pipes. Joined by Susie J. Silbert, curator at the Corning Museum of Glass, the artists further contextualized their work within the field of pipe-making. 

Post Covid, 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Coyle, including a residence at Pilchuck in July. In September, you’ll find the artist at Molten Art Classic, Southern California’s premiere glass flameworking event. Team leader, Adam Whobrey, also known as Hoobs, handpicks some of the top borosilicate glass artists in the world to create an exquisite one-of-a-kind piece together at Classic 33 Studios in Huntington Beach. It is the largest collaborative art event to unify top borosilicate glass artists from around the world, all adding their respective influences and unique flair to the collective piece. 

 

May 28, 2021

Tim Carey and Justin Monroe: From Holy Frit to Vitreonics

The marriage of Tim Carey’s art and glass making skills with Justin Monroe’s unique approach to presenting both on film has resulted in rewards, accolades and attention in both the filmmaking and glass worlds. Following the release of Monroe’s award-winning documentary, Holy Frit, the artist and filmmaker have teamed up again to start a new company called Vitreonics, dedicated to education through content creation around the medium of glass. Their goal is to reach and teach the newer generations of artists about the wonders of glass with a fresh new approach to presenting online education in an entertaining and fun format. Their first classes were released last week through Bullseye Glass Co. 

Find out more at https://classes.bullseyeglass.com/classes-events.html?instructor=1908

Holy Frit shared the wild and winsome journey of Carey and Judson Studios as they realize a church’s vision to create the world’s largest window of its kind. With plenty of human drama, creative travail, and colorful characters, including Narcissus Quagliata and folks from Bullseye Glass Co., it is a must-watch for art lovers in general and glass lovers especially. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2021 Slam Dance Film Festival and winner of Best Documentary Feature at the 2021 Florida Film Festival, Holy Frit is described by Monroe as follows: 

“Carey is a talented, yet unknown Los Angeles-based artist. He is also a bit of a jackass, who uses wit and humor to charm you into forgiving his flaws. As a Hail Mary, Tim and the company he works for, Judson Studios, bluff their way into winning the commission to make the world’s largest stained-glass window of its kind, beating out 60 companies from around the globe. The problem is, Tim has no idea how to make his complicated design.

“After a desperate search, Tim comes to learn about someone who might have the answer… a world-famous, Italian glass maestro, named, Narcissus Quagliata. From the moment Narcissus arrives, Tim quickly learns that his talent and humor can only take him so far. If he has any chance to make it to the end of the project and potentially achieve greatness, he has to confront his personal demons of self-importance, artistic merit, business instincts and spiritual insecurities. He has to put down his ego and submit to the life and artistic lessons of a complicated master, who has already preceded him in greatness. As this documentary unfolds, the clash of two big personalities slowly transforms into the forging of a lasting friendship. Both mentor and protégé come to realize it will take their combined focus to overcome this 3-year race-against-time, the complications of a $1.2 billion class-action lawsuit, and the many obstacles that emerge when attempting a masterpiece. Even though the story takes place within the niche world of an ancient art-form, it gives a universally fun, heartfelt and sometimes comedic look into the drama of any human endeavor which is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Monroe has directed, written and produced numerous projects, both dramatic and comedic, since his career began. His feature film credits include the award-winning comedy, The Rock ‘N’ Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher (Director / Producer), and the thriller, The Unraveling (Co-Writer / Producer). He has also written, directed and produced a wide variety of short films and client work, striving to achieve a unique aesthetic and a connection to beauty, fun and authenticity in every project he’s a part of. After studying film in Oklahoma and Los Angeles, Monroe and his wife decided to trade tornadoes for earthquakes, and headed into a full-time life in the golden west. They reside with their two children in Pasadena, California. 

Carey continues his mission to bring glass to the forefront as an image-making medium through continued exploration of techniques that he and Quagliata developed at Judson Studios. Tim Carey Studio, established in Compton, California, on July 1, 2018, moved to south Pasadena, where the artist currently creates projects and commissions in his hybrid fusing and glass painting process. These include recent works The Cast, Beneath the Surface and work with Judson Studios on the South Pasadena Library windows.

Listen to the full podcast on Carey at https://talkingoutyourglass.com/tim-carey-studio/

Listen to the full podcast on Judson Studios’ Resurrection window at https://talkingoutyourglass.com/judson-resurrection-window/

 

May 19, 2021

Cat Burns: Not Your Grandma’s Glass

Whether creating her signature Nesting Bowls, a dazzling murrine sculpture Windows of Truth, or an unforgettable glass fashion statement Forbidden Twizzlers, Cat Burns captured viewers’ hearts and minds as a contestant on Blown Away 2 – Netflix’s glassblowing competition show produced by marblemedia with the support of The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG). As runner-up of the competition, she scrambles to keep up with the overwhelming interest of the general public in supporting her art through acquisition.

A defiant artist who uses flamboyant, sarcastic humor to illustrate her internal narrative, Burns touched the Blown Away 2 audience with her honesty and vulnerability. She cultivates her work very slowly and uses it as a visual diary, creating audacious imagery as a way of communicating and synthesizing the often perplexing, manic experience of living with depression. The work explores the delicate strength of glass as a final object, as well as its use as a personally therapeutic tool. By destigmatizing personal demons, her work explores what it means to “go a little crazy.”

Some of Burns’ glasswork centers around her failing eyesight and how this impacts her world as a maker. She has needed glasses since age two for extreme nearsightedness, and her mother was almost completely blind by age 40, so losing her vision was something the artist understood as a possibility all along. For the past few years, retinopathy has plagued her, forcing a reevaluation of exposing the eyes to melting glass. 

As a production glassblower Burns put herself through school, earning her associate degrees in Glass Fine Art and Glass Craft and Design from Salem Community College, Carneys Point, New Jersey. She subsequently worked as a full-time assistant to other glass artists in the Philadelphia area and at The Studio at CMoG, where she learned from the constant stream of master glassblowers. She says: “I got paid to learn first-hand from people at the top of their field, and I could not be more grateful for the lessons the Museum has taught me.”

Aside from making her own work, Burns loves to teach and has helped teach classes all over the country in places like Pittsburgh, Penland, Salem, Corning, Pilchuck, and Snow Farm. A full-time glassblower since 2009, the artist has travelled the world, working for many years with CMoG’s Hot Glass Show at Sea team. 

Making work at The CMoG Studio, Burns sells a lot of her glass at The Museum Shops. Though 2020 began with mass cancellations of all of her scheduled work, The Shops presented the artist with the idea of taking a color concept she had developed earlier and reworking it to fit the Pumpkin of the Year. After a few inceptions, Burns landed on the right rainbow for the 2020 Unity Pumpkin. The first order in June was for 50 and by the end of the year, she had made almost 600.

Burns says: “They just spoke to everyone; that need for some color, joy, and unity. The rainbow felt a little defiant and unifying at the same time, racking up millions of TikTok views and totally changing my year. The love the TikTok community had for the Unity Pumpkin was completely unexpected and overwhelming at times, and because of that, I went from losing all my work to growing my business to where it is now in just five months. I will forever be grateful to my TikTok followers.”  

Though her one-month 2020 residency at CMoG has been postponed due to COVID-19, meanwhile Burns works hard to keep up with demand for her work. After Blown Away 2 was released, the artist’s order limit on production pieces was met in only five days. 

From functional glass bongs to Tits and Glass sculptures that reference the artist being told she was only valued in the hot shop for her tits, to Vagina Sculptures, which allow one to reclaim their sexual past – this is not your Grandma’s glass! “Through humor we heal and find strength,” says Burns.

 

May 14, 2021

Keke Cribbs: Frozen Moments in the Emotional Adventure of Life

Through her art, KeKe Cribbs searches for a peaceful place. Growing up, this self-taught artist moved 24 times in 24 years, and she now prefers to travel in her mind, telling stories of far-away places and exotic characters in a mosaic glass technique she has adapted to her unique style. From her studio on Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle come boats, Moon Queens, and collage with painted glass, inspiring wonder and delight in all who view them. Her latest works will be on view August 6 – 29, 2021 at the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery, Bainbridge, Washington. 

Like her work, Cribbs’ life has a fairytale-quality with dark undertones. At age 15, she was one of five children transplanted to Ireland for her mother’s graduate studies in Yeats. For the next decade she traveled from place to place in Europe before returning to the United States as a single mother and a stranger to native customs. While working in a Native American art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cribbs discovered the work of the Mimbres Indians and had a show of her adapted renditions of those drawings at Dewey Kofron Gallery in 1980. She was subsequently commissioned to reproduce the images by etching them onto the glass fronts of a suite of cabinets. 

In 1997, in a dramatic departure from sandblasting, Cribbs began firing enamels onto glass in a kiln. She drew on the glass with a quill pen and used sgraffito to further enhance the drawing before firing. Working the entire piece on the reverse side of the glass left the colors brilliant and wet in appearance. The sheets of painted glass were then cut into tiny tiles and reassembled on a three-dimensional surface. Early forms included canteens, baskets, high-heel shoes or more commonly, boats. 

Says Cribbs: “All of these forms represent journeys – the canteen and basket forms are containers which one would carry on a journey to hold water, the very essence of life. The narratives depicted on these forms represent the choices we make in this life; small vignettes into fictional lives that may remind one of a

Keke Cribbs: Frozen Moments in the Emotional Adventure of Life

Through her art, KeKe Cribbs searches for a peaceful place. Growing up, this self-taught artist moved 24 times in 24 years, and she now prefers to travel in her mind, telling stories of far-away places and exotic characters in a mosaic glass technique she has adapted to her unique style. From her studio on Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle come boats, Moon Queens, and collage with painted glass, inspiring wonder and delight in all who view them. Her latest works will be on view August 6 – 29, 2021 at the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery, Bainbridge, Washington. 

Like her work, Cribbs’ life has a fairytale-quality with dark undertones. At age 15, she was one of five children transplanted to Ireland for her mother’s graduate studies in Yeats. For the next decade she traveled from place to place in Europe before returning to the United States as a single mother and a stranger to native customs. While working in a Native American art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cribbs discovered the work of the Mimbres Indians and had a show of her adapted renditions of those drawings at Dewey Kofron Gallery in 1980. She was subsequently commissioned to reproduce the images by etching them onto the glass fronts of a suite of cabinets. 

In 1997, in a dramatic departure from sandblasting, Cribbs began firing enamels onto glass in a kiln. She drew on the glass with a quill pen and used sgraffito to further enhance the drawing before firing. Working the entire piece on the reverse side of the glass left the colors brilliant and wet in appearance. The sheets of painted glass were then cut into tiny tiles and reassembled on a three-dimensional surface. Early forms included canteens, baskets, high-heel shoes or more commonly, boats. 

Says Cribbs: “All of these forms represent journeys – the canteen and basket forms are containers which one would carry on a journey to hold water, the very essence of life. The narratives depicted on these forms represent the choices we make in this life; small vignettes into fictional lives that may remind one of a surreal dream or experience, a palpitation of the heart, a frozen moment in the emotional adventure of life.”

Eventually, Cribbs found herself seeking more information and attended workshops at Pilchuck Glass School with Dan Dailey, Bertil Vallien, Ginny Ruffner, Klaus Moje, Clifford Rainey, and Jiří Harcuba. She studied ceramics with Yih-Wen Kuo, Keisuke Mizuno, and Sergei Isupov at Penland School of Craft and attended many classes at Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle studying metal techniques. She moved to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound to be closer to the heart of the glass community. In time, she found herself teaching at both Pilchuck and Penland as well as starting a glass program at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, MA, which then became Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU), now UMass at Dartmouth.

Anyone who learns something has to be curious enough to retain the information, no matter where it comes from. In Cribbs’ case, her life experiences and fascination with process led to the development of a unique approach to making art work, one in which the mystery surrounding objects from the past creates its own narrative in the mind of the onlooker. Working in many materials including glass and ceramics, she seeks to create an interactive form of storytelling, sculpturally producing shapes with narrative surfaces, bringing the whole work into a multifaceted exploration of the subconscious world of dreams and symbols. 

With a career spanning over 51 years, Cribbs has work in many museum collections both nationally and internationally, including the L.A. County Museum, CA; Corning Glass Museum, Corning, NY; Henry Ford Art Museum, Dearborn, MI; Mobile Art  Museum, Mobile, AL; Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; and Hokkaido Museum of  Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan. Each year from 2012-2015 Cribbs was nominated for the Twinning Humber Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, she was awarded Artist in Residence at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; Artist in Residence, Toledo Art Museum; and was a presenter at the Glass Art Society Conference, Seattle, WA.

About her new work, Cribbs states: “I’m really happy with the new work I am producing for the show in August at BAC on Bainbridge Island. Technically I have moved to paintings with painted glass inclusions. Perhaps it is partially the isolation during the time of COVID that has pushed me to isolate each little jewel of glass so it can be appreciated individually as its own micro painting, loved for being itself …. but the departure from creating a full skin of mosaic glass on a form, be it sculptural or flat, has other aspects of elevating these small shards of what was simply float glass and mirror bits, to a placement of honor. 

“In a society that tends to look down on poverty and to isolate those who have less, I am always reminded of the song line diamonds on the soles of her shoes by Paul Simon … and then there is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles …. coal to diamonds to dust to stars where all the good souls go to sing together; these contribute to the access point where I have landed with this new work, and I am in bliss heaven.” 

On May 27, 2021, join Artist Trust Board Member Lee Campbell and artist Kéké Cribbs for a virtual house party in support of Artist Trust. This virtual event won’t be your typical Zoom call, but will instead provide an exclusive tour of Cribbs’ Whidbey Island studio, insight to her artistic process, and a glimpse of her recent work. Come prepared to laugh, think outside the box, and hear more about one of Washington State’s talented artists. 

https://artisttrust.cheerfulgiving.com/e/an-evening-with-lee-campbell-and-keke-cribbs

surreal dream or experience, a palpitation of the heart, a frozen moment in the emotional adventure of life.”

Eventually, Cribbs found herself seeking more information and attended workshops at Pilchuck Glass School with Dan Dailey, Bertil Vallien, Ginny Ruffner, Klaus Moje, Clifford Rainey, and Jiří Harcuba. She studied ceramics with Yih-Wen Kuo, Keisuke Mizuno, and Sergei Isupov at Penland School of Craft and attended many classes at Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle studying metal techniques. She moved to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound to be closer to the heart of the glass community. In time, she found herself teaching at both Pilchuck and Penland as well as starting a glass program at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, MA, which then became Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU), now UMass at Dartmouth.

Anyone who learns something has to be curious enough to retain the information, no matter where it comes from. In Cribbs’ case, her life experiences and fascination with process led to the development of a unique approach to making art work, one in which the mystery surrounding objects from the past creates its own narrative in the mind of the onlooker. Working in many materials including glass and ceramics, she seeks to create an interactive form of storytelling, sculpturally producing shapes with narrative surfaces, bringing the whole work into a multifaceted exploration of the subconscious world of dreams and symbols. 

With a career spanning over 51 years, Cribbs has work in many museum collections both nationally and internationally, including the L.A. County Museum, CA; Corning Glass Museum, Corning, NY; Henry Ford Art Museum, Dearborn, MI; Mobile Art  Museum, Mobile, AL; Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; and Hokkaido Museum of  Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan. Each year from 2012-2015 Cribbs was nominated for the Twinning Humber Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, she was awarded Artist in Residence at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; Artist in Residence, Toledo Art Museum; and was a presenter at the Glass Art Society Conference, Seattle, WA.

About her new work, Cribbs states: “I’m really happy with the new work I am producing for the show in August at BAC on Bainbridge Island. Technically I have moved to paintings with painted glass inclusions. Perhaps it is partially the isolation during the time of COVID that has pushed me to isolate each little jewel of glass so it can be appreciated individually as its own micro painting, loved for being itself …. but the departure from creating a full skin of mosaic glass on a form, be it sculptural or flat, has other aspects of elevating these small shards of what was simply float glass and mirror bits, to a placement of honor. 

“In a society that tends to look down on poverty and to isolate those who have less, I am always reminded of the song line diamonds on the soles of her shoes by Paul Simon … and then there is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles …. coal to diamonds to dust to stars where all the good souls go to sing together; these contribute to the access point where I have landed with this new work, and I am in bliss heaven.” 

On May 27, 2021, join Artist Trust Board Member Lee Campbell and artist Kéké Cribbs for a virtual house party in support of Artist Trust. This virtual event won’t be your typical Zoom call, but will instead provide an exclusive tour of Cribbs’ Whidbey Island studio, insight to her artistic process, and a glimpse of her recent work. Come prepared to laugh, think outside the box, and hear more about one of Washington State’s talented artists. 

https://artisttrust.cheerfulgiving.com/e/an-evening-with-lee-campbell-and-keke-cribbs

 

Apr 30, 2021

Katherine Gray: Reconciling Polarities

Drawing on the rich traditions of glass blowing, fearless experimentation, and a fascination with glass as both a visual and experiential encounter, Katherine Gray creates work that ranges from blown glass sculptures to assembled installations of found glass. A visitor favorite at The Corning Museum of Glass is her Forest Glass, a large-scale installation comprised of found glass arranged to create the illusion of trees. Whether celebrating a prosaic material through installations or her Iridescent Entities, stylized hearths and campfires, or clouds and orbs, Gray forces us to appreciate glass anew. 

She says: “I use a material that we don’t generally see. It is often flawlessly clear and colorless, hence invisible in that regard, but it can also be so ubiquitous and banal that it does not register in our psyches either. It is a material that allows us unparalleled connectivity (via smart phones and fibre optics) yet also serves to separate us. To my mind, these two polarities are what set this material apart from so many others, and one of the reasons that I feel compelled to keep working with it as an artistic medium. It is both present and absent, known and unknown, and vacillating between a state of mundane familiarity and otherworldly perfection.”

In Heller Gallery’s 2020 exhibition, Radiant Mirage, Gray turned her considerable glass-making skills to creating objects that served two purposes: to bring beauty into a dire moment in the world, and to express her frustration over the loss of our collective sense of security and well-being. The common thread was her use of iridescence, an optical phenomenon seen in nature and inspired by unearthed ancient glass. Like natural phenomena that are caused by the refraction of light, Gray’s Entities and Tubes emphasized the elusiveness and shiftiness of iridized objects and projected an ephemeral shape and play of color our eye does not fully grasp.

Educated at the Ontario College of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design, Gray serves as the Resident Evaluator on Seasons 1 and 2 of Netflix’s reality TV show Blown Away.  Her works are held in the permanent collections of public institutions including the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH; Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY; Museum of American Glass, Wheaton, NJ; the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; and Toyama City Institute of Glass Art, Toyama, Japan. Reviewed in the New York ObserverArtforum, and the Los Angeles Times, Gray has been nominated for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, and has garnered many accolades including the Award of Merit from the Bellevue Art Museum in Washington. 

In addition to making work, Gray has written about glass, curated and juried multiple exhibitions, and has taught workshops around the world. In 2017, she received the Libenský/Brychtová Award from the Pilchuck Glass School for her artistic and educational contributions to the field. She was also honored as a Fellow of the American Craft Council (ACC), a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing American craft. To be named a fellow, an artist must demonstrate leadership in the field, outstanding ability as an artist and/or teacher, and 25 years or more of professional achievement as an American craftsperson. Currently, Gray lives in Los Angeles where she is a professor of art at California State University, San Bernardino.

To Gray, glass is a material of both otherworldly perfection and mundane familiarity. She says: “I’m trying to play off of polarities between usage of material and the sphere it exists in, who makes it, who uses it, who values it, and trying to point out some of the inequalities.”

 

Apr 22, 2021

Ruth Shelley: Through the Eye of Color

Patience, love of color and an observing mind are the key ingredients of Ruth Shelley’s successful kilnformed glass art. For over 25 years, she has been exploring the flow of glass when heated and the reflection and refraction of light as it hits her glass objects. Dropped vessels create an interplay of light, form and color evocative of the natural-world characteristics experienced on the West Coast of Wales. 

Camping in her van in Aberystwyth on Cardigan Bay, Shelley watched an impending storm develop. Its transitioning colors inspired the artist’s Stormy Seas collection. Cardigan Bay, an endless inspiration with its craggy cliffs, wide estuaries silted up with spits and bars, and the occasional island also impacted the artist’s Into the Deep series, which reflects the changing weather patterns and light experienced there on the coastal profile of Wales. A series was born from and named after a connection to Mwnt Beach, where the artist feels most at home and inextricably connected to the earth. Even during Covid lockdown, Roath Park in her hometown of Cardiff influenced Shelley’s Winter Lockdown Walk with its chromatic foliage

Although coming from a background of textiles, Shelley has attended many masterclasses including those at North Lands Creative Glass, UK, and Bullseye Resource Center, Portland, Oregon, which enabled the realization of her ideas in kilnformed glass. She was presented with the Glass Sellers Award at the British Glass Biennale 2015 and won the People’s Prize from the Contemporary Glass Society in 2017. The recipient of many Welsh Arts Council awards, Shelley is a member of the Contemporary Glass Society and the Makers Guild of Wales. Her work can be seen in many UK galleries including London Glassblowing, Contemporary Applied Art and Albany Gallery in Cardiff, May 6 – 29, 2021 with Maggie Brown.

To find out more about Ruth Shelley’s work: https://vimeo.com/160445687

Apr 9, 2021

Daniel Maher: Challenging the Stained Glass Status Quo

Daniel Maher’s work serves as a testament to both his diverse aesthetic interests and his firm roots in the traditions of the stained glass craft. A former employee of Boston-based Connick Studio, in 1989 the artist established Daniel Maher Stained Glass in Somerville, Massachusetts, to further explore a variety of design styles. With the goal of accelerating his evolution as an artist and extinguishing the notion of stained glass as an exclusively traditional art form, Maher made it his mission to explore the textural movement inherent in glass. 

In 2007, a reduction in the number of restoration jobs coincided with the exodus of a few of Maher’s key employees, and thus he began to wind down his studio’s restoration commissions. Currently, residential commissions comprise 75 percent of his studio’s new work with the remaining 25 percent commercial or corporate projects. 

Driven by a goal to introduce prismatic effects into stained glass windows, Maher created his first found objects windows more than 30 years ago in a series called Housewares Graveyard Windows. These colorful, textural panels showcased glass that had been rescued from its ordinary life as serving bowls, platters, goblets, lids, jars, and general household utilitarian objects and made the star of his stained glass symphony.

Over time Maher’s palette expanded, providing fuel for myriad thematic ideas. Some panels centered around old alcoholic beverage bottles, some antique medicine jars, but each created a unique look. One of Maher’s found object windows was featured in Martha Stewart Living’s December 2012 issue. His work, Pig with Corn, was made from a number of glass corncob buttering dishes that Maher silver stained and placed in circumference around the bottom of a giant pig’s foot jar, imprinted with the words “this little pig went to market.” This panel was exhibited at the American Glass Guild Conference in Buffalo, New York, July 2009.

Since 2010, Maher has been incorporating one of the most beautiful glass objects into his stained glass windows. Because none of the commercially available roundels captured the magic he was looking for, Maher decided to learn how to make his own and enrolled in a glassblowing course taught by Jesse Rasid at North Cambridge Glass School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Learning to make roundels resulted in an awakening of creative ideas and a move of Maher’s studio to Cambridge.

Maher’s largest roundel commission was created for the Alfond Inn owned by Barbara and Ted Alfond, Boston, Massachusetts, and Winter Park, Florida. The couple became aware of the artist’s artwork via his lectures at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Because Orlando, Florida, is the home to the Morse Museum of Tiffany Glass, the Alfonds wanted a piece for their inn that would speak to the beauty of the ponds, lakes, and gardens of their city while referencing Tiffany’s legacy in a unique way.

In yet another approach to enhancing the aesthetic and content of stained glass, Maher’s Portrait Windows celebrate specific people and events through their inclusion of photographic imagery. Using a photo-sensitive film, Maher creates a transparency onto which he places the photo sensitive film and exposes it to ultraviolet light. Whether painted and fired in the kiln, etched or sandblasted, the images become a permanent part of the glass and are constructed in the vivid colors unique to stained glass. Photo imaging allows subjects to be rendered that would otherwise be impossible to create by hand painting, traditional sandblasting or acid etching. 

A combination of glass painting and the photo imaging process can be seen in Maher’s three-lancet Harvard Lampoon Castle window, a collaboration with designer by Michael Frith. Frith was the art designer for the Muppets and Sesame Street, and Dr. Seuss’s book editor and close personal friend. All imagery references the history of The Lampoon, an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University i n Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its secret lingo. In the lead and copperfoil combo window, each of three lancets measures 2 by 5 feet and includes 450 to 600 pieces. “The project was a whirlwind with late changes and groundbreaking techniques, but one of the most rewarding projects I have done in my years of stained glass.”

Inspired by the notion of the sun entering prismatic glasses, Maher’s Suntrackers split sunbeams into long bands of color, rainbows, or arcs of light. Optically clear colored glass and prismatic objects combine to create patterns that change through the course of the day or season. A secondary image is created when the sun casts light onto the floor or wall after passing through the glass. Works that include prisms project a tertiary image of overlapping rainbows.

After dedicating 49 years to exploring the possibilities of glass, Maher looks back at his pivotal beginnings, when he invited local architects, designers, and artists to a brainstorming session prior to opening his studio. Out of that meeting, he learned to ask himself the question: Is your work something new and different? Is it unique to your studio? – reinforcing the idea that not only can one produce something new and different in the traditional art form of stained glass, but one should. “The greatest compliment I’ve received,” says Maher “is, ‘I’ve never seen windows like yours before.’”

 

Apr 1, 2021

Elliot Walker: Winner of Blown Away 2

Sculpting and blowing molten glass, Elliot Walker creates still life sculpture inspired by the paintings of Dutch masters. Though exquisite to look at, it was the combination of refined glassblowing skill with the humor and satire of his work that resulted in Walker winning the Netflix series, Blown Away 2. For the moment, prized residencies at both the Corning Museum of Glass and the Pittsburgh Glass Center are on hold due to Covid. But the artist works feverishly on new commissioned works, facilitates a number of creations for several noted designers and artists, and carries out his new duties as champion of marblemedia’s glassblowing competition show.

For Walker, getting to know his fellow contestants on Blown Away 2 and watching them work made his participation on the show worthwhile. “It showed me how welcoming and inspiring the global fraternity of furnace glass workers is.” 

Messums, London, hosted Walker’s inaugural solo show from January 28 through February13, 2021. Plenty, an irreverent look at the culture of excess, presented a new series of sculpture inspired by 17th– century Dutch Vanitas paintings. Employing almost every conceivable technique, the artist transformed classic still life painting objects into ethereal, sculptural cameos that speak both of bounty and its impermanence. Walker’s remarkable technical skills include complex and subtle coloring applications, along with cold processes like cutting and polishing, surface decoration and texturing, adding depth and dazzling intricacy to his forms. 

A show statement from Messums Fine Art Ltd, read: “Elliot is an exciting and talented artist bringing a conceptual edge to a traditional craft with all the hallmarks of a mould breaker…We have been watching the seam between craft and art break over the years, and Elliot’s work irreverently celebrates glass working whilst engaging with our contemporary concerns and pleasures.”

Growing up in Wolverhampton, England, an academic at school, Walker took his A-Levels in science, chemistry and biology. As a boy, he describes himself, as ‘out-doorsy,’ always creating and making things, mostly with pebbles and sticks, inspired by British sculptor and environmentalist, Andy Goldsworthy. He never thought of being an artist when he was a kid because it wasn’t “sensible.”

With a BA in psychology from Bangor University in North Wales, Walker discovered glass at university, taking night classes in stained glass windows. Following his MA in applied arts from Wolverhampton University, the artist established a studio in Camden. He now lives and works in Hertfordshire with his life partner, colleague and fellow glassblower Bethany Wood. She is the owner of the Blowfish art gallery, currently selling Walker’s works online.

Touted as one of the United Kingdom’s finest rising glass stars, Walker has become one of the most active and inspiring artists of his generation. He developed his basic skills and necessary foundations as a creator by studying glass-making in the Stourbridge Glass Quarter, an historic place that has been associated with the glass industry for more than 400 years. He worked for glassblowing legend Peter Layton for about eight years as a part of his London studio team. The artist is also part of a group called Bandits of Glass, where the process of creation is given more importance than the final piece itself. 

Says Walker: “I am a dedicated experimenter with my chosen material and am constantly trying to challenge myself and the audiences of my work to abandon many preconceptions of the material.”

 

Mar 25, 2021

Ross Richmond: Figurative Elements and Symbolic Objects

In sculpting realistic figures of humans and horses adorned with color and pattern, Ross Richmond demonstrates how an artist can push his medium beyond its normal boundaries. The artist creates beautiful and expressionistic sculpture using gesture to convey narrative. Communication has always been the main source of Richmond’s inspiration, whether it be with oneself or between others.  

Richmond discovered glass in 1991 during his time at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he received a BFA in glass, with a minor in metals. He is considered one of the top glass sculptors in the field today and has worked with (and for) some of the greatest glass and non-glass artists including William Morris, Jane Rosen, Preston Singletary, KeKe Cribbs, and Dale Chihuly. Richmond studied and taught at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG), Penland School of Craft and the Pilchuck Glass School. The artist was awarded residencies at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, Toledo Glass Museum and CMoG. His work is represented by a number of galleries across the country.

Working as an apprentice in 1997, Richmond became a member of Morris’ glassblowing team in 1999 and worked alongside him until his retirement in 2007. Morris encouraged teamwork and working outside the box – lessons reflected in both the surface and shape of Richmond’s exquisite horse figures.

All of Richmond’s work is blown and hot sculpted, meaning that nothing is casted or mold blown – all pieces are made by hand while hot on the pipe in the glass shop. First, the main shape of the piece is established then allowed to cool. Working it in a colder state affords the artist a more “solid core” to work from. If the piece is too hot, the shape will distort as the details are brought out. A small oxygen-propane torch is used for all of the detail work, which allows for a greater variety of flame shapes and sizes to work with. Heads are typically blown, whereas all hands are solid. With a blown shape, Richmond is able to inflate areas or suck areas in as needed. Hands are made solid so that delicate fingers do not collapse or distort. All colors are applied in layers of glass powders, and the finished piece is coated with an acid to remove the shine for a matte finish. 

The inspiration for Richmond’s figures made between 2015 and 2018, was derived from ancient Egyptian sculpture, Japanese prints and Art Nouveau graphics, which all use or are inspired by natural scenes and landscapes. All of these different time periods and genres produced works that were highly ornate, yet simplistic in form and composition. Richmond used color and pattern to decorate and adorn the robes his figures are wearing to create imagery and convey a setting or scenery, to place the figure in a natural environment. Imagery of blossoming flowers or trees convey growth or growing to create the feeling of springtime bliss, awakening after the winter slumber. Carved imagery or applied components provide a bas relief and texture to an otherwise flat and smooth surface.

Richmond says: “The figure has always been a major theme in my work, and in this series, I am breaking down the human form into a basic shape as if it were draped in fabric. This keeps the eye from focusing on the details of anatomy, and lets the viewer follow the sweeping gestural lines of the form. The basic shape of the body along with its quiet contemplative facial features, gives these figures a calm meditative feel.” 

In 2016, Richmond and Randy Walker were awarded a collaborative residency at CMoG. Having worked together on the Morris glassblowing team, the two artists utilized well-learned teamwork combined with strengths in form, color, and the ability to push the bounds of the material. Walker created objects that seemed to grow out of and be part of the natural world, while Richmond sculpted realistic figures adorned with color and pattern. Marrying their aesthetic, objects were transformed from natural objects into figurative works. 

Over the last few years, Richmond has been slowly building his own hot glass studio in Seattle. From March 4 through 27, Traver Gallery presents a unique exhibition of works by Jane Rosen and Richmond. Though their influence is always visible in one another’s artwork, this is the first time they have shown side by side. This exhibition celebrates and highlights the critical impact of artist friendships and highlights the vital influence each has on the other.    

 

Mar 19, 2021

Eli Mazet: Revealing the Handmade Shot Glass and the Eugene, Oregon, Glass Community 

Looking to expand his artistic repertoire, torch artist, author and entrepreneur Eli Mazet discovered that today’s flameworkers were not making one of the world’s most collected glassobjects. In 2013 with the support and sponsorship of Northstar Glass, over 40 artists produced more than 70 shot glasses effectively creating the largest handmade contemporary shot glass collection known today. Along with chronicling each piece in his book, The Contemporary Shot Glass, Mazet reviews the rich history and trivia of the smallest drinking vessel. 

One of the most passionate glass artists you will ever meet, Mazet resides in Springfield, Oregon, with his best friend and partner Jessica and their three daughters. Born in Eugene, he is the middle of three brothers all involved with glass. Older brother Josh Mazet graduated with a BFA from the University of Oregon, where he was a resident artist in the university’s ceramics department and instructed their Wood Fire Ceramics program for three years. 

When Eli expressed an interest in learning to work with glass, the brothers set up a small lampworking studio in his garage. During the next two years, while working two jobs, Eli logged hundreds of hours behind the torch. In glass, an outlet for his high energy and a passion for creating art was discovered. He travelled to the coast, selling his whimsical glass creatures to galleries and shops. The response was exciting and encouraging, and soon a family business, Mazet Studios, was established including younger brother Tim and mother Tym.  

Since 2002, Mazet Studios has created lampwork glass pipes, sculpture, marbles, paperweights and pendants from borosilicate glass. Recognition and awards included The Eugene Glass School Flame-Off, Sonoran Glass Academy Flame-Off and Glass Craft and Bead Expo Gallery of Excellence. In addition to their studio work, Josh and Eli regularly instructed lampworking from their private studio and at various schools throughout the US. 

Though Josh left the company, Eli continues pushing forward at Mazet Studios. He has published a second book, The American Shot Glass and the Machine, purchased the rights to Homer Hoyt’s instructional flameworking book, which he now sells, and was instrumental in the documentary film Pipe Dreams USA, which won five awards including the Seattle Cannabis Film Festival. Currently on its way to London’s Cannabis Film Festival, you can watch the film at pipetownusa.com.

 

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