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
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.’”
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.”
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.
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.
Having grown up in the 1960s and ‘70s, Australian kilnforming artist Margaret Heenan was influenced by the highly stylized graphic designs and patterns of early childhood found on wallpapers, homewares and textiles. From her Perth studio, the artist consistently produces impeccably designed fused glass plates, bowls, wall pieces and sculpture using vibrantly nostalgic colors and patterns. Linear and highly structured and restrained, the final pieces begin as detailed drawings and paintings referenced for cutting the glass, which must be accurate to achieve a seamless fit. An artist with dual aesthetic sensibilities, Heenan is also known for her more painterly kilnformed glass, strongly influenced by the Australian landscape.
Heenan’s love of calligraphy and fine lettering led to her discovery and love of glass art. Earning a diploma in these subjects required the completion of a special study, which she carried out with a neighbor who was a stained glass artist. Lettering a couple of large liturgical windows sparked Heenan’s passion for glass and resulted in her appreciation for heraldry – how to interpret blazons (armorial bearings) and how to draw and paint coats of arms. She remains a Life Member of the Calligraphers’ Guild.
Earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Western Australia, 2004, Heenan went on to study glass with well-known artist-instructors such as Richard Parrish, Lee Howes, Judi Elliot, Jeremy Lepisto, Mel George, and Ian Dixon. She worked with David Hay and Holly Grace at Edith Cowan University during the final term of her BFA as part of a cross-institutional enrollment to access hot glass at Hyaline Glass Studio.
With work in private collections in England, South Africa, Australia, America and China, Heenan is represented by Gallows Gallery, Mosman Park, Perth; Jah Roc Gallery, Margaret River, Western Australia; Aspects of Kings Park, West Perth; and Gallery Aura, Kojanup, Western Australia. The artist’s work was featured in the book, Best of World Wide Glass Artists, Vol 1, and three Heenan pieces were chosen by Spectrum Glass catalogue to promote System 96 Glass in the US.
After a career of perfecting both technique and design, Heenan’s goal of having her work recognized by its unique and stylized treatment of color, pattern and form has come to pass.
In 1948 at the age of 7, Irene Frolic arrived in Canada after almost three years in a United Nations refugee camp in Salzburg, Austria. A Jewish child, who had miraculously survived the grimmest of Grimm Fairy tales in the dark heart of Europe, arrived not knowing a word of English into a new world. Trying to make sense of these mysteries remains at the heart of her work in cast glass to this day.
The little Canadian girl grew into a well-educated young woman. Frolic married, travelled the world, had children, and held a good job before discovering glass in her early 40s, inspiring a sea change witnessed in her evolution to becoming an artist. Almost 40 years later, Frolic continues to infuse her cast glass with knowledge, feelings, history and heritage.
Working from her Toronto studio, Frolic has been involved in the international Studio Glass movement, helping to develop the art of kiln cast glass as a material for artistic expression by teaching workshops, lecturing and exhibiting world-wide. Past president of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC), which honored her with a Lifetime Achievement award, she is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (RCA). Her work is exhibited internationally and found in many public and private collections, including those of the Museum of Decorative Art, Lausanne, Switzerland, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Museo del Vidreo, Monterrey, Mexico, and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo, Ontario.
Glass, which surrounds us in our modern urban landscape, is one of the most ancient, seductive and mysterious of materials. The quest to find a way to use it beyond its easy allure has propelled Frolic and has sustained her 40-year art career. By developing and exploring the emotive qualities of glass as a medium, she has explored her personal history, commented on memory, and mused on the interdependence of beauty and decay.
As the Covid pandemic continues, new sculpture is underway at Frolic’s studio. Her latest work, She Loves Us Still: Earth, addresses humanity’s treatment of our planet and each other. She says: “It goes back to my beginnings and how close I came to be extinguished. On October 13, 1941, in my hometown, Stanislawow, at nine weeks of age I was held in my 18-year-old mother’s arms, at the edge of an enormous hastily dug pit at the Jewish cemetery. I understand it was bitterly cold. The thousands of people herded there were all naked. The shooting continued all day – 12,000 Jewish citizens met their deaths that day. The reason I am still here, approaching my 80th year, is that it got dark…too dark to kill. I am full of anguish about the way we treat each other today. If strangers live among you, love the stranger as yourself and do him no harm. Love the stranger, both within and without.”
Charles Ziegler Lawrence was a man who could have easily held his own in a conversation with the likes of Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, or Hunter S. Thompson. Whether reflecting on his life as a young artist in 1960s Greenwich Village or reliving the making of five windows for the National Cathedral, all of his stories were replete with an equal amount of psychedelic detail. Though the truth of the tale was never in question, the content was unbelievable.
Lawrence seemed as unlikely a candidate for the priesthood as he did for a life dedicated to liturgical art; however both are his truths. Sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant, the personal history of this “existential iconoclast” blurs the thin line between humor and pathos. His professional success might very well be the reward for having learned how to walk that line.
From his obituary: Lawrence, 83, died on January 1, 2019. He began his career in 1956 as an apprentice to master craftsman Rudolph Henrick Beunz. In the 1960s while attending design school at Pratt Institute, New York City, Lawrence worked in the glass department of the Rambusch Decorating Studio where he perfected skills in glass painting and color selection. In 1968 he went to work for the Willets Stained Glass studio in Chestnut Hill, where he completed prestigious commissions for the National Cathedral, the Temple of the Latter Day Saints, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, as well as the University of Rochester, and Penn State University. In the 1980s Lawrence established his own studio in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, completing additional commissions for the National Cathedral, as well as works for the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, St. Mary’s at the Cathedral, Andorra, PA, the Burlington Bridge Commission in NJ, and the Gore-Tex Manufacturing Co., in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Lawrence received The Stained Glass Association of America’s faceted glass design award twice, the Interfaith and Forum on Religious Art and Architecture award twice, and the St. Francis Xavier Chapel Award of Excellence. In 1994, the SGAA presented Lawrence with its Lifetime Achievement Award. A senior advisor for the American Glass Guild, he was also an associate member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters.
There will never be another CZ, as he was affectionately known, partially because stained glass and what it takes to conquer the craft has forever changed. But the art and the artist will be represented throughout the ages by his many bold, gothic revival style masterpieces.
In 1994 Lawrence made his final window for the National Cathedral. This small, two-lancet window is located in the east end of the cathedral in the chaplain’s office. In most cases, he didn’t bother to make or apply the putty himself, but this time was special. Lawrence combined linseed oil, whiting, and lampblack, the major components, and added one last special ingredient—the ashes of Angus, his beloved dog who had died and was cremated during the making of his previous cathedral window.
Said Lawrence: “The cathedral was done, and Angus was in a safe place for the coming millennium. After that we will be together again. I am sure God knows how much I’ve missed him and She will bring us back together. Until then, I know I will always have a friend in the cathedral and so will Tracy, Vanessa, and whoever else comes after them.”
Recorded live at a coffee shop at the 2012 American Glass Guild conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this podcast conversation was created from the TOYG archives.
The ancient Chinese regarded the dragon as the most potent of all symbols of energy and good fortune. They believed it to be the harbinger of incredible luck, prosperity, abundance, consistent success and high achievement. These are the very gifts Mike Luna’s dragons have bestowed upon their creator. A pipe artist, grower and smoker, his love for the cannabis plant is at the center of a successful career designing and fabricating the industry’s most beloved dragon headies, pendants and sculpture.
Born in Torrance, California, in 1978, Luna was raised in Santa Fe Springs until age 15 when he moved to O’Brien, Oregon, to start high school at Illinois Valley High. After high school in 1996, he moved to Los Angeles and began working in automotive retail. By this time older brother, Chris, had already started his journey into glassblowing, and in 1999 offered Mike a job back in Oregon. Luna found work in a production shop ran by Gilbert Velosco. There, he met and befriended soon-to-be functional glass legend, Darby Holm, who took him under his wing as an apprentice in 2000. Luna says: “Learning under Darby changed my life! He and the Holms are like family to me. They are a big part of the reason I’m still in Oregon constantly learning and trying different things with glass.”
On February 6, 2021, Ziggy’s Smoke Shop in Huntington Beach, California, presents Enter the Orb, Luna’s current solo exhibition of new work and collabs with the likes of AKM, Ryno, Darby, Justin Carter, and Salt. His work will also be on view September 18 at Lifted Veil Gallery in Los Angeles, and in December at 2Sided Gallery, Stanton, California.
Arguably the hottest show on Netflix, the glassblowing competition series Blown Away–once again featuring expert glassmakers from The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) –returned for a second season on January 22, 2021. The Museum also hosts an exhibit of work made during Season 2, featuring one object from each of the 10 contestants. The exhibit Blown Away: Season 2 opened on the Museum’s West Bridge the day the show launched.
CMoG, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass, the library of record on glass, and one of the top glassmaking schools in the world, has served as a key consulting partner for the series since its conception. When the first season of Blown Away launched in the summer of 2019, CMoG was invited into the spotlight, bringing to the program its expertise in an artform that much of the world was discovering for the first time through the show.
“We are so pleased to again partner with marblemedia to put glass in a global spotlight,”said the Museum’s president and executive director, Karol Wight, of CMoG’s relationship with the Canadian production company behind Blown Away. “Watching new audiences around the world embrace glassblowing because of this series has been exciting, and we look forward to seeing that enthusiasm grow with the release of a second season.”
This season introduces a new group of 10 talented glassmakers from around the world as they compete for the title of “Best in Glass.” Season 2 is once again hosted by Nick Uhas, with resident evaluator and glass master Katherine Gray.
Andi Kovel, Ben Silver, Brad Turner, Cat Burns, Chris Taylor, Elliot Walker, Jason McDonald, Mike Shelbo, NaoYamamoto, and Tegan Hamilton.
Episode 1: Alexander Rosenberg – Season One Competitor; Episode 2: Benjamin Write – Pilchuck Glass School; Episode 3: Kathryn Durst – Animator and Illustrator; Episode 4: Heather McElwee – Pittsburgh Glass Center; Episode 5: Bobby Berk – Interior Designer “Queer Eye”; Episode 6: Michel Germain – Perfume Designer; Episode 7: Stepheen Weatherly – Defensive End, Carolina Panthers; Episode 8: Sunny Fong – Fashion Designer, VAWK; Episode 9: Deborah Czeresko – Season One Champion; and Episode 10: Robert Cassetti – Corning Museum of Glass.
In the season finale the Museum also provides the two Blown Away finalists with the expert assistance of its Hot Glass Demo Team—Eric Meek, Jeff Mack, Helen Tegeler, Catherine Ayers, George Kennard, and Chris Rochelle. A blockbuster ending to a 20-year career at CMoG, shortly before his retirement from the Museum senior director Rob Cassetti served as the final guest evaluator, helping to select the winner of the competition.
“It feels like I’ve come full circle,” said Cassetti, who developed the Museum’s hot glass programming. “When we first launched our demo at the Museum, we called it the Hot Glass Show, and put our makers on a stage. We knew glass was inherently exciting, and we wanted to bring that to our visitors. So now for the Blown Away series to capture that magic, bottle that energy, and to share it with the world through Netflix it’s really unbelievable, and it was a joyful honor for me to be part of it.”
As part of the prize package, the winner of the show will receive the coveted Blown Away Residency at CMoG. In 2019 the Museum hosted Season 1 winner, Deborah Czeresko, for three week-long working sessions. The residency takes place in the Museum’s Amphitheater Hot Shop where a live audience can meet the winner and watch the artist make new works. CMoG will host the Season 2 winner as soon as COVID restrictions allow.
“We are thrilled that Blown Away returns for a second season, available to Netflix’s global audiences to stream on January 22,” said Matt Hornburg, executive producer and co-CEO of marblemedia. “This show’s success is due in part to our valued partnership with The Corning Museum of Glass, and their unwavering support and guidance. Their contribution to the grand prize, offering a prestigious residency to the winner, raises the stakes that much more. We are thrilled that the Museum is showcasing the exceptional work done by these esteemed glass artists from season two. Seeing these pieces on display, representing the true essence of this show, is very rewarding.”
This special episode of TOYG podcast features interviews with Hornburg, Cassetti and artist contestant Mike Shelbo in this behind the scenes look at Blown Away Season 2.
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Micah Evans blew people’s minds with his fuctional flameworked glass sewing machines that balanced clean traditional craft form and personal sculptural work. Referring to his glass obsession as “a disorder,” Evans was the first flameworker to receive the glass residency at Penland School of Craft, which he served from 2012 to 2015.
He says: “Lately I seem to be describing my work falling into two categories, things I love to make and things I have to make. The first category is easy; I am in love with the material. Like many glass artists I am a slave to the substance, the way it behaves and looks, the way it demands and gets my full attention whenever I work with it. I love to work with the material, therefore whatever I am making brings with it a genuine feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. The second category is harder to define but equally important. The work I can’t help but make are the ideas that won’t let me sleep, the ideas that have me drifting off in conversations to my own world of redesigning and problem solving. It’s the repeated execution of the simple shape that seems to inhabit every page of my sketchbook at the time. It’s exploring ideas over technique and the struggles that come with that process. These two worlds often interact, and I bounce back and forth constantly.”
Born in Cashmere, Washington, in the eastern foothills of the Cascade mountains, Evans moved to Seattle in 1996. He attended The Art Institute of Seattle, focusing on computer animation and illustration before he started flameworking at Stone Way Glass in 1999. After relocating to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, in 2000, the artist opened his first glassblowing studio two blocks from the beach. Five years of workshops and hustle in addition to the struggles of coping with the federal crackdown on pipe making inspired a transition to making more traditional craft objects and personal work.
Upon resettling in Miami, Evans became a studio assistant to William Carlson, chair of the Art Department at the University of Miami. Shortly thereafter he began working with ceramic artist, Bonnie Seeman, combining glass and ceramics. Through working with both of these artists he was introduced to SOFA and Art Basel.
In 2008, Evans relocated to Austin, Texas, where his personal artwork and pipe designs began to mature and develop a symbiotic relationship. His friendship with pipe maker and sculptor SALT pushed both artists in new directions. A 2011 class at Penland with Carmen Lozar inspired a big shift in Evans’ career. He describes his subsequent Penland Residency as “the most wonderfully brutal four years” of his life, where he learned to balance the dynamic of pipes and fine art in more than one way.
In 2016, Evans began designing full time for GRAV Labs, a product design company based in Austin, Texas. Working with glassblower, designer and engineer, Stephan Peirce, Evans has learned the language of industrial and product design. This opportunity presented him with a window into glass manufacturing that changed the way he thought about the material and how it can be used. He regularly visits glass studios and factories in China to research new ways of working and designing in borosilicate glass, with a current focus on engineering and adapting small-scale manufacturing processes observed in Asia to his studio practice. These events inspired a “paradigm shift” in Evans’ understanding about borosilicate glass and what can be done with the material.
Currently building out an expanded studio space at GRAV Labs focused on both R&D and his own work, Evans travels, teaches and lectures at schools and universities around the world about flameworking, design and glass subculture in the United States.
Therman Statom – sculptor, glass artist, and painter – is most notably known as a pioneer of the contemporary glass movement for his life-size glass ladders, chairs, tables, constructed box-like paintings, and small-scale houses; all created through the technique of gluing glass plate together. Sandblasted surfaces become a canvas for spontaneous vibrant colors and line work, which take nuances from Abstract Expressionism and concepts of Minimalism, while simultaneously incorporating a twist by using blown-glass elements and found objects.
Born in Winter Haven, Florida in 1953, Statom spent his adolescence growing up in Washington, D.C. His interest in the arts grew from a fondness of painting and he began to investigate ceramics at RISD. However, after an experimental glassblowing session with Dale Chihuly, he was soon hooked on the spontaneity of hot glass and its limitless possibilities. Statom went on to pursue studies at Pilchuck Glass School during its inaugural year, completing a BFA in 1974 from RISD, and later studied at the Pratt Institute of Art & Design.
Throughout his career, public artworks have been permanently installed at prominent locations including the Los Angeles Public Library, Corning, Inc. Headquarters, the Mayo Clinic, San Jose Ice Center, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Jepson Center for the Arts in the Telfair Museum, Savannah as well as several hospitals across the country.
Statom’s artwork appears in numerous exhibitions annually, including solo and group shows around the nation and internationally. Over the span of his career, he has completed over 30 large, site-specific installations. Most notably in recent years, his 2009 solo exhibition Stories of the New World, at the Orlando Museum of Art, which spanned over 5,000 square feet, has been his largest installation to date. Exploring themes related to Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 search for the fabled Fountain of Youth as a point of departure, the installation referenced historic and contemporary themes of hope, discovery, ambition, and destiny. Visitors traversed the gallery space consisting of a mirrored maze, panoramic glass wall mural, a room-size structure built entirely of glass, and video projections. In conjunction with the exhibit, Statom partnered with the educational department of the OMA and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Eatonville to work with over 80 young students to create a work of art titled “Glass House,” which was a large, walk-though structure built from glass boxes designed by the children. The piece was later displayed at the annual summer community festival.
Much of the latter half of Statom’s career has been focused on the importance of educational programming within the arts. He has taken a deep interested in employing workshops as a catalyst for social change and in affect, positively impacting a community. Working directly with the artist himself, adults and children alike share a combined experience of exploring art making via a hands-on experience. Inhibitions and limitations are left by the wayside, and the practice or act of “doing” becomes a journey of self-discovery, creating an opportunity for the participant to go to a new place within themselves.
Says Statom: “I believe art can be understood both conceptually and intuitively. I think there is a need for the general public to come to an understanding that to appreciate art and creativity they must trust his or her self; that extensive education is not a prerequisite for understanding art. Much of what I do is seeded in what is more of an intuitive process; a large portion of my work is exploring these processes within people and their environments.
“The fact is, I believe that creativity is a part of all aspects of what people do; my studio and educational efforts via workshops and the support of outside programming, general educational and cultural institutions, are a reflection of this belief. I feel that art is tool for empowerment and education. It’s also a viable tool to investigate positive change and engage a culture through exploration.”