The perfect marriage of what’s uniquely beautiful about blown and stained glass, Monarch Glass Studio’s Cellular comprises 470 square feet of glass panels installed in the UH2 building at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed and fabricated by Tyler Kimball and his team, this project highlights the magic of the handblown rondel in its role as a perfect accompaniment in stained glass windows.
Says Kimball: “Architecture and pattern always inspire me in my designs. I like each installation of glasswork or individual piece to have its own voice and personality, attaching itself to the place it lives and the people who view it.”
Kimball has been working with glass as his main medium since 1999. Prior to returning to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, to build his glass studio, the artist lived and worked as a glass artist in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. He’s worked in over 60 studios in production, as a resident or visiting artist, assisting other blowers, teaching classes, assisting in classes, and as a demonstrator. Some of his more recent artist in resident stints took place at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, and as a month-long featured artist at Salem State University in Massachusetts.
A passion for glass has led Kimball down many different avenues over the years, and his favorite project is always the one he’s working on now. His work can be found in many collections throughout the country, including private collections of the Kempers and Soslands, as well as the permanent collections of Salem State University and the Columbus College of Art and Design. His iconic blown sculptures of badminton shuttlecocks with fine detailed lace-like designs are exhibited by the Leopold Gallery + Art Consulting, Kansas City, Missouri. Working with transparency and line-play to achieve motion and pattern in his glass, Kimball pushes the limits of color, pattern and shape.
A chance encounter with a stained glass window in his parents’ Kansas City home inspired Kimball’s early interest in glassblowing. Its prismatic effect, casting a rainbow of gorgeous, vivid colors on the wall, captivated him, sending the youngster on a life-long journey of exploring this ancient craft.
Kimball says: “I couldn’t comprehend how humans could make something so wonderful. This fascination continued throughout my childhood, and in 1999, I started working with stained glass, which eventually led me into glassblowing. I started with cold working glass and was hired at a Seattle studio for those skills. On lunch breaks, I went into the hot glass studio where I first learned to blow glass.”
With a breadth of glassworking skills, Kimball has now built the equipment for, set up the studio, and is currently the head of the glass department of the Belger Glass Annex at Belger Arts in Kansas City, Missouri. Additionally, his studio is currently making more rondels than any other worldwide and is also developing its own line of mouth-blown sheet glass – all while carrying out art glass installations around the country for botanical gardens, hospitals, hotels, senior living centers, restaurants, private residences, Disney theme parks, other glass studios, and multiple independent designers. Monarch Glass Studio recently signed a quarter-million-dollar contract with the city of Lawrence, Kansas, for its new transit facility.
Kimball states: “Love glass. Always have and always will. Light, color, pattern, movement, and depth are all aims in my work. I look to the natural optical qualities within glass to allow these qualities to come through in every piece I create. I also work towards giving the viewer a different piece with each new angle or step taken.”
As one of the Stained Glass Association of America’s new board members and the new chair of the Editorial Committee for the Stained Glass Quarterly, Kimball cares about community and the transferring of information through generous sharing.
Born in Mirano, Italy, Emilio Santini comes from a family with centuries of tradition in glass. With skills in the areas of lampworking, glassblowing, casting and diamond point engraving, he has taught primarily torchworking at many of the major glass schools in the US including Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh Glass Center, as well as at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Currently residing in Blacksburg, Virginia, Santini is dedicating more time to his first love – writing poetry and fiction, with a particular focus on the glass world, past and present.
The product of over 500 years of glassblowing tradition, Santini’s father was his first teacher. At the age of 11, Emilio was sent to work in Cenedese glass factory during the three-month summer break from school. His uncle, Giacinto Cadamuro, was his teacher during that year. For the next five years, the young Santini went back to work for three months in the same glass factory but with different masters, including “Petà” and “Mamaracio”. At 17, Emilio’s father started teaching him lampworking, an activity that became the primary focus of his career as a glass educator.
Santini spent nearly 10 years refining his skills before — after four summers of persistent courtship during her studies in Venice — he married Theresa Johansson and moved to her family home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Without the close family and workshop connections that helped him so much in Murano, Santini struggled to sell his work. He failed to grasp the much more demanding and decentralized nature of the sprawling American art glass market, and the couple returned to Murano.
In 1988, Santini moved with his wife to Williamsburg, Virginia, where he established a small lampworking studio. He made his third and final attempt to immigrate to the US when his wife was hired at William and Mary. During this period, the artist received a call from Peninsula Glass Guild co-founder Ali Rogan, who tracked him down after stumbling across one of his impressive works in a small York County craft shop. With her encouragement, Santini entered the Guild’s annual juried show, where he not only won top prize, but so impressed the juror — a nationally prominent Washington, D.C.-area gallery owner — that she bought his piece and gave him a solo show.
Also during this time, Santini received his first invitation to conduct a demonstration before an audience of collectors, gallery owners and other glass artists at Penland School of Craft. That’s when he knocked on the door of internationally known Studio Glass pioneer, Harvey Littleton, who was so impressed with his unexpected guest from Murano that he invited him in for an eye-opening 3-hour conversation.
Santini says: “Up until then, I really had no idea of what to do with glass beside production and fine design. I didn’t know about making art objects.”
Over the past few years, Santini has concentrated primarily on sculpture and creating pieces that incorporate cast, blown and lampworked elements, along with metal and stone. These represent a major shift in his work, though many of these pieces had their genesis as sketches or models made throughout his creative life. Most recently, the artist has turned his focus to the written word, both prose and poetry, to which he dedicates considerable time and energy.
Since venturing out on his own 34 years ago, Santini has combined his production and fine design work with one-of-kind art objects and sculpture to become widely recognized as one of the top lampworkers in the country. His work can be found in numerous private collections and museums such as the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; The Ca’ Pesaro Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Venice, Italy; the Sheffield Museum, England; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; and many others. He’s blended his superlative technical expertise with his humor, imagination and friendliness to become a nationally known teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as the workshop circuit.
What has been the secret to Santini’s success? He knows Venetian techniques so well, but instead of being secretive about them, he’s generously shared his talents with students, collectors and glass lovers around the globe.
Jim Scheller’s vessel designs are informed by simplicity and abstraction. His work is inspired by Neoplasticism and the artists of that period, beginning with the De Stijl movement of the early 20th century. Always a scientist, he is fascinated with exploring the processes that use heat and gravity to bring his designs to life in glass.
Initially introduced to glass kilnforming in a 2012 Bullseye workshop, Scheller shifted his professional focus following a long and enjoyable career as an engineer and technologist working with creatives worldwide in the athletic footwear and apparel industries. Experimenting and learning about art and glass as a medium quickly became his passion – a transformation he describes as being “taken hostage by kilnforming glass.”
Scheller further developed his technical and artistic abilities in 2014 and 2015 at the Professional Kilnforming Residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Gracious mentoring from many of the best artists and friends – such as Steve Klein and Richard Parrish – further encouraged and refined Scheller’s goals as a glass maker. Early vessel forms were exhibited in For the Love of Glass, at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Atlanta, in 2017.
After two decades on the Chehalem Mountain outside Portland, Oregon, in 2018 Scheller moved his home studio to the Illinois prairie near his son Phillip, where they make decorative kiln formed glass art. Macoupin Prairie Glassworks is located in Staunton, Illinois, near the artist’s childhood home of Mt. Olive, a small town on old Route 66 halfway between Springfield and St. Louis.
There, Scheller takes great pleasure in pushing kilnforming limits and developing new techniques. His works are composed with glass sheets, crushed glass (frit), and glass slabs (billets), then fired to over 1400 degrees F. Fired works are extensively cold worked to achieve the final finish. Number 11 of his series studying the art of the line in composition on the deep vessel shape was recognized in the Bullseye Challenge: Reactions, May 2021.
Click on Scheller’s name for image of his honorable mention piece,
Scheller’s current Ancient Ring series has attracted great interest both at his galleries and on his social networks. From April 28 through July 4, 2022, Quad City Arts’ Art at the Airport presents glass art vessels by Scheller, acrylic sculptural paintings by Sally Havlis of Chicago, Illinois, and sumi-e paintings by Karen Kurka Jensen of North Liberty, Iowa. Vessels in this exhibition are inspired by the work of early 20th-century painters Mondrian, Gorin, Kandinsky, Klee, Tauber-Arp, and van Doesbur.
For more information:
Scheller’s Ancient Rings 13 has been accepted into the St. Louis Artists’ Guild “Constructed Visions IV” biennial, held July 1 to August 6, reception on July 1 from 5 – 7 p.m.
And Philabaum Glass Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, will exhibit Scheller’s work beginning February 4, 2023.
Says Scheller: “The engineer, immersed in the process of making, joins glass, heat and gravity to create works inviting one to view the once molten glass in a dance of light and color.”