In his role at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG), Eric Goldschmidt gives demonstrations in flameworking, glass breaking, and optical fiber, in addition to teaching, lecturing, and exhibiting his work around the world. In the winter of 1998, he took his first formal class in flameworking with Roger Parramore at the Museum, which opened his mind and illustrated the possibilities of what could be done with the material and processes.
In 1993, with the goal of gaining residency to attend The University of Vermont, Goldschmidt relocated to the state and found work as a short-order cook, then as a candle maker. As a Dead Head, he had seen Snodgrass pipes in the early ‘90s, and his roommate at the time had worked with Chris Shave, one of Snodgrass’ early students in Oregon. With a torch set up in the garage, Goldschmidt began making mushroom pendants and marbles, working hollows, and by 1996 making his own pipe work.
Goldschmidt began working for The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass in 2001 and returned to work for the Hot Glass Demo Department in April of 2008. In between, he worked for Arribas Brothers Company at Disney World from July of 2007 to March 2008. Making dragons, fairies and mermaids to entertain the public, Goldschmidt had to push his skills daily, perfecting the very techniques he relies upon today.
Missing the academic atmosphere of CMoG, Goldschmidt returned, moving from studio to demonstrations. From the walk-in workshop where guests made a piece of glass to serving as Resident Flameworker, he taught, advised, helped other instructors, and made his own work in the classroom when it was free. Having the opportunity to assist, observe or interview artists in Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic, Goldschmidt was able to tune into cultural differences in the way flameworked glass is considered and approached.
Some favorite tasks in his current role as Flameworking and Properties of Glass Supervisor at CMoG include assisting Toots Zynsky during her residency and making work for a Robert Wilson installation that was shown at Design Miami in 2019. One of his many responsibilities is setting up glass demos such as the recent multi-day demonstration that resulted in incredible work by Dan Coyle (aka Coyle Condenser), Ryan O’Keefe (aka sdRyno), and Hoobsglass. Parts of the collaboration were livestreamed with thousands of artists tuning in from across the country. It is now available on CMoG’s YouTube channel.
Says Goldschmidt: “The world of flameworked glass has been seeing a great deal of innovation and momentum over the past decade that has largely been driven by artists making pipes for cannabis consumption. These artists are constructing objects that are not only beautiful and intriguing, but they must also function in specific ways for their collectors.”
Although Goldschmidt stopped making pipes when he began working at CMoG, he has been welcomed into the functional glass community as a “brother of the torch.” With a passion for goblets, he is known for both his Cage Cup series as well as his series of elegant Lidded Goblets. Sheet glass figurative work is his most unique contribution to flameworked art. The artist’s Cage Cups feature fragmented face imagery surrounded by twisted vine-like “cages.” These cages create a more in-depth narrative beyond their traditional silhouettes, presenting a metaphor for the cages that we become entrapped in within our lives. They draw the viewer in to find the deeper narrative. Each of his Lidded Goblets has a removable lid accented with a delicate finial.
In comparing pipes to goblets, Goldschmidt states: “Goblets are other objects that have potential for decoration. They involve the use of hollow forms, solid forms, and pattern work. Pipes and goblets are certainly related. The techniques and materials are very similar, if not exactly the same. People talk about the taboo of pipes because they’re used for cannabis. Cannabis is gaining huge acceptance these days. It’s a matter of time before the taboo is completely gone. Goblets and drinking vessels have been used for the consumption of alcohol for a long time. I don’t see too much of a difference. Some people are now connecting pipe makers and collectors with drinking vessels.”
Currently travelling in Italy, Goldschmidt is working with Cesare Toffolo’s sons on the beginnings of a film series that will cover a great deal of the history of flameworking. He will teach a workshop at Salem Community College, Goblet as a Tool for Growth, June 13 – June 16, 2022 and at Snow Farm: The New England Craft Program, a nonprofit, residential craft school in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, in October, 2022.
Executive Director of the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA), Megan McElfresh has dedicated her professional life to community service and the art and science of stained glass. With a background in fine arts and operations management, she joined the Association as a professional member in 2015 and became the Executive Director in the fall of 2017.
Growing up in small stained glass studios, McElfresh continued to build on her technical skills in the medium by seeking mentorship opportunities throughout college. Some of the highlights of her glass studies were traveling to Pilchuck Glass School and time spent at the nationally recognized kilnforming resource center, Vitrum Studio. Prior to working with the SGAA, McElfresh worked in a variety of roles from operations management at a life sciences firm in Washington, D.C. to IT and web support for small non-profit art organizations.
In 2011, McElfresh moved from Northern Virginia to Buffalo, New York, and founded her studio, McElf GlassWorks. With a passion for her professional career as well as her new community, she never turned down an opportunity to collaborate with neighborhood teens and local programs to provide enthusiastic and creative educational enrichment. In her personal work, McElfresh uses her artwork in the advocacy of issues she became passionate about during her time working at a forensics laboratory concerning subjects like domestic violence and rape, and DNA backlogs. Her studio work has been featured in the Stained Glass Quarterly, Design NY, The Buffalo News, and Buffalo Rising.
With a background in operations management and art history, McElfresh is uniquely qualified in her role as leader for the National Trade Association as it approaches its 125th anniversary of service to the industry. In her role with the SGAA, she focuses on sowing the seeds of long-term change and strengthening the organization’s core programs. She endeavors to showcase the Association as a hub for the industry through strong partnerships with manufacturers, preservation and stewardship groups, and education centers. By bringing together the nation’s foremost architectural art glass studios in technical skill and integrity, the Stained Glass Association’s cumulative knowledge can be combined for the benefit of all who are tasked with the care and investment of our nation’s stained glass.
Approaching its 125th anniversary, the SGAA is headquartered in a new cooperative office space where staff can serve along with others working toward a similar mission. McElfresh remains enthusiastic about the SGAA’s renewed vision. For more than 100 years, the organization has held its annual summer conference, serving a vital role in the industry by bringing together artists and studios from across the country to exchange ideas and perspectives. The SGAA’s 111th Annual Summer Conference will be held June 27 – 30, 2022 in Toledo, Ohio.
Says McElfresh: “Each year’s national conference provides an educational and creative hub for glass artists, historians, manufacturers, and architects. Whether you’re an established studio or just learning stained glass; if you’re an architect or building caretaker; if you’re making public art or small panels for private homes, SGAA’s conferences have something for you. Please plan on joining your friends and colleagues both familiar and new for an inspirational and thought-provoking conference that will bring every facet of our industry together in celebration.”