Sally, a humanoid ragdoll created by Dr. Finkelstein in Tim Burton's 1993 stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas, provided the primary inspiration for Peter Muller’s groundbreaking functional glass. The furnace worker turned flameworker modeled his trademark glass “quilting” technique after the patchwork and stitching of Sally’s dress. Instantly embraced by the pipe community, this aesthetic along with the artist’s development and mastery of related techniques, led to the most successful work of his multifarious career.
Muller’s voodoo doll bubblers and button-eyed patchwork puppet pipes push the boundaries of functional glass and are easily recognizable in top-notch glass collections. “Pipes travel all around and get shared with different users. From a collector’s perspective, I can imagine it’s wonderful to have anyone using or viewing a piece know who made it based entirely on the strength of its aesthetic.”
In the hills of beautiful Southern Vermont where he resides with his wife and daughter, Muller takes pipe making to new heights. In 1999, he began exploring glass as an apprentice at a small glass facility based at Lunt Silversmith’s in Western Massachusetts. Working in this high volume production setting for more than a year provided the skills to gain further employment with various studio glass artists in Western Mass and Southern Vermont. The work he created ranged from Italian goblets to large scale blown sculpture. Over a decade at the furnace he learned how molten glass moves and used his technical prowess to design and execute his own unique body of work.
In 2001, Muller established Afternoon Glass Designs with a vision to create glass that captures the whimsical and fanciful essence of the animations, illustrations, and books that inspired his passion for the arts as a child. The artist hoped that through his designs, adults and children alike could effortlessly engage with the arts and be inspired by the limitless possibilities of the imagination.
This vision and aesthetic, while established for his soft glass, continues to serve as Muller’s north star for functional work. In recent years he has participated in various solo and group exhibitions, live demos, and regular drops of work all over the US and Canada. In June 2017, Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presented Seamless, the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s full body of work including functionals, collabs, early soft glass vessels, and wall mount displays. There, Muller debuted his newest “Portraits and Dwellings” series. A few of those pieces are now on view at Habatat Gallery in West Palm Beach, Florida, and may tour other areas in the future.
No stranger to awards, Muller received the 2011 and 2012 Niche Award for Furnace and Flame collaborative works with Joe Peters. The American Glass Expo presented Muller with the Atlantic Region Glass Artist of the Year, People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2017. From June 26 – 28, the artist will teach a class with Zii (Kim Thomas) at Glass Alchemy, Portland, Oregon. Muller's live demos include August 11 at Piece of Mind Smoke Shop in Newport Beach, California, and September with Ryno at Witch Dr., Salem, Massachusetts. In October he will teach at Legacy Glass, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Today I opened the window to let the spring come in, and I discovered to my surprise that the forest is in my house and the landscape is within me.”
Miriam Di Fiore’s journey through life and glass reads much like Laura Esquivel’s popular 1989 novel, Like Water for Chocolate. With a similar magical realism, the kiln worker discovered both her artistic medium and voice beginning in the small seaside town where she grew up in Argentina. Though it was a forbidden love, a lifelong relationship with fused glass triumphed in the face of political adversity and family objection.
As a child Di Fiore lived in Miramar, a little city near the Atlantic Ocean protected from wind and sand by a vast pine forest. Because important moments of childhood passed among those trees, the forest continues to contain deep and symbolic meaning inspiring the drawing, painting, and photography vital to the artist’s work.
“What I try to do with my art is not an interpretation of the woods, but rather a simple respectful translation in glass of a little part of our wonderful world where I have been in the company of trees. I want to speak about that place and how I felt there. In that way I can share at least a part of the magic and beautiful moments that made me feel happy to be alive. My works are an illusion of eternity, virtual places that try to preserve what’s constantly changing and what my eyes see in fragments of time.”
Di Fiore received her art degree in ceramics and drawing in 1977 from the Escuela Nacional de Ceramica y Dibujo, Mar del Plata, Argentina. In 1991, she studied pate de verre with Linda Ethier at Creative Glass, Zurich, Switzerland, which inspired and informed a new direction in Di Fiore’s fused glass. Additional training took place in 1994 at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, from instructors Lino Tagliapietra and Rudy Gritsch. Her professional experience includes working as Narcissus Quagliata’s teaching assistant at the Museum of the Royal School of Glass, Segovia, Spain, and for his Florence, Italy, seminars in the 1990s.
Represented by Habatat Gallery, Mostly Glass Gallery, and SOFA throughout the 2000s, Di Fiore’s work can be found in the permanent museum collections of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), Corning, New York; the Newark Fine Art Museum, Newark, New Jersey; Cafsejian Museum of Contemporary Art, Armenia; Museo Nazional del Vidrio, Segovia, Spain; in the Coleccion Estable de la Revista del Vidrio, Barcelona, Spain; in the Museo delle Arti Decorative, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy and in the Municipal Glass Art Museum of Alcorcon, Madrid, Spain.