A Day in the Life of a Hot Shop Intern

By Hannah Fields, Museum of Glass Grant Manager

As the Grants Manager for Museum of Glass, I spend my days writing, creating budgets, strategizing, and researching. I came to this job on a winding path, however, and that path included taking a glassblowing class in High School twenty years ago. So when given the opportunity to be the “Hot Shop Intern for a Day”, I jumped at the chance! I love glassblowing; it is the reason I work at Museum of Glass.  I love the immediacy, the teamwork, and the sublime sensuality of the material.

On the day of my internship, I arrived with chocolate chip cookies for the team to thank them for the opportunity. They were very appreciative. Before the Museum opened, the real Hot Shop Intern, a UWT student, Danny, showed me the ropes.  I was going to be operating the doors of the glory hole.  No problem, I thought.  I can do this. The glory hole has three sets of doors each larger than the last. The doors are opened as the artist brings the piece to be heated, and then closed as the piece is brought back to the gaffer’s bench to be worked. Open, close. Open, close. Repeat. Repeat.

You might think this sounds boring, but I had the greatest time operating those doors!  I got to see really up close what Ben, Gabe, and Niko were making, and how effortless they make blowing and sculpting glass look. I got to hear them sing along to terrible easy listening hits of the 1970s and 1980s (think Hall and Oats and Toto)—they know ALL the words—it was hilarious. I got to listen to them communicate to each other in a strange shorthand language as they created each piece. I got to feel like a member of the team.

My day as a Hot Shop Intern inspired me. It inspired me to find more humor in my days; to find more joy in my work; and to remember just what my work at Museum of Glass supports—the endurance of the creative spirit. It was the best day I’ve had in a really long time.

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Hannah Fields talking to Visiting Artist Barbara Earl Thomas while working in the Hot Shop.

Thank you to the amazing Hot Shop team for making me feel so welcome in their home and for sharing their spirit of generosity, humor, teamwork, and fun.

The Forest through the Trees

By Katie Phelps, Museum of Glass Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator

I met Landscape by Beth Lipman (American, 1971) and Ingalena Klenell (Swedish, 1949) three years ago as a graduate student at University of Washington’s Museology program. We came to Museum of Glass for one of my class field trips, and Landscape definitely made an impression. If you haven’t had a chance to see the piece, it is truly breath-taking. It is a 3D, 31×18 foot collage made of 425 thin pieces of glass that hang from the ceiling or sit on the ground to compose a wintery landscape.

Landscape, installed at Museum of Glass as a part of the exhibition Glimmering Gone - Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman which was on display August 21, 2010 – March 11, 2012.

Landscape, installed at Museum of Glass as a part of the exhibition Glimmering Gone – Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman which was on display August 21, 2010 – March 11, 2012.

As I sat on a bench looking at the piece, I turned to one of my classmates and said “Man, I feel sorry for the guys who have to take that down.” Turns out…one of those guys is me. Last week I traveled with our exhibition designer, Lynette Martin, to Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, where the Landscape had been on loan since February 2014. Our mission? To successfully take the piece down and pack it in crates, all while documenting the location of each piece so that we can hang Landscape the same way at future venues. Imagine you just completed a 500 piece puzzle. And, now that you’re finished, you have to write instruction as you put it away, so that the next person can put it back together exactly the same way. That is a good way to think about our process. Here’s how we did it: 1. Number each of the pieces using pieces of blue tape and Sharpie.

The forest, complete with blue tape numbers.

The forest, complete with blue tape numbers.

2. Take lots of photographs! We use these photographs to help decipher where each piece of glass goes, along with how to orient it top to bottom. Since all of the pieces are clear, we use a black piece of tagboard to create some contrast between layers.

We used black tag board to make the individual pieces of the fir tree more visible.

We used black tag board to make the individual pieces of the fir tree more visible.

3. Trace the outline of each piece directly onto the floor using a Sharpie. The result was a huge, numbered, template that described which piece goes where and corresponds to the photographs and numbers. We took a large sheet of plastic and traced over the floor, giving us a map that we can use for the next installation.

The base of the fir tree, with rocks numbered and traced on the deck.

The base of the fir tree, with rocks numbered and traced on the deck.

Those three steps got us through all 425 pieces of glass. It took a team of 6 people about 140 hours to take the piece apart, all while surviving near-record temperatures and humidity, along with a close encounter with a tornado. We couldn’t have done it without Andrew, Robin, Steve and Justin – the fabulous crew at Figge Art Museum. Now that it’s all said and done, we’ll organize our notes and be ready to assemble the piece at the next exhibition venue. Until next time Landscape!

Postcard From Beijing

Museum of Glass curator David Francis, who took a five month leave of absence to join his family in China, has sent us an update on how his stay in Beijing is going. It appears he’s getting a bit homesick.

Postcard front

Postcard back

Docent Trips and Tours

By Carla Bruno, Museum of Glass Docent

As part of their ongoing efforts to learn as much as possible about the world of glass art, our Museum of Glass docents often enjoy the privilege of visiting with artists in their working environments. Two such special opportunities occurred recently.

In March, a group traveled to the Ballard district in Seattle to view an exhibit of modern Scandinavian glass at the Nordic Heritage Museum. Then, after lunching together, they met with Dante Marioni at his Fremont studio to talk with him about his work.

Museum of Glass docents with Dante Marioni (center) in his studio

Museum of Glass docents with Dante Marioni (center) in his studio

In April, another similar journey found our museum docents in the Fremont area of Seattle taking a tour of Fremont Antique Glass talking with its founder Jim Flanagan, and watching as cylinders of glass were blown and then turned into flat sheets of gorgeous, multi-hued glass. (Museum of Glass visitors see the work of Fremont Antique Glass, since they made the glass used for Cappy Thompson’s piece Gathering the Light in our Grand Hall.) After another fun lunch together, they then visited glass artist Ginny Ruffner in her Ballard home and studio. Having the opportunity to talk with Ginny and see her home and garden (which are also works of art) is such a special opportunity–one our docents greatly appreciate. “Being able to visit Ginny’s studio for the second time, to see the progression both in her work and the changes within the building (including adding on a garden room where she raises vegetables) was so rewarding,” noted Kathryn Hillig.

With Ginny Ruffner (in front) in her Ballard studio

With Ginny Ruffner (in front) in her Ballard studio

As you plan your next visit to Museum of Glass, please don’t forget a tour of the gallery exhibits with one of our engaging and knowledgeable docents. “Meeting the artists gave us the opportunity to ask questions and better understand their processes,” said Lysa Schloesser. As you can see, they have a wealth of information and experiences to share!

I Come in Peace Prepares for Lift-Off

By Katie Phelps, Museum of Glass Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator 

Last week I caught up with one of our teams from Federal Way High School, who designed a diorama for the Kids Design Glass piece Tis Ausome Landshark Ausomeness. This week, I chatted with Tran Chau, Edward Garcia, Peter Gitau, Paolo Honrade, Robert Hughes, Aaron Mathews and Jeremiah Mored who created a futuristic spaceship for I Come in Peace.

Tran Chau, Edward Garcia, Peter Gitau, Paolo Honrade, Robert Hughes, Aaron Mathews and Jeremiah Mored pose with their diorama.

Tran Chau, Edward Garcia, Peter Gitau, Paolo Honrade, Robert Hughes, Aaron Mathews and Jeremiah Mored pose with their diorama.

Describe the materials used to make your diorama.

We used pink insulation foam to sculpt the chair and the front console of the diorama. The floor was constructed out of XBox motherboards, and we used the pieces – USB ports, power cells, and so forth – to decorate the console. We stripped old wires to place on the outside of the front console. Silver corrugated cardboard was used to layer the outside of the console. Finally, we used a black foam core to cover most of the insulation foam.

Paolo and Jerry take hot gluing to a new level – they carefully trimmed off all of the strings so that the glue wouldn’t be visible on the control panel.

Paolo and Jerry take hot gluing to a new level – they carefully trimmed off all of the strings so that the glue wouldn’t be visible on the control panel.

What was the most challenging part of making your diorama?

Shaping the console and chair took most of our time. We had to make sure the foam was secured and sculpted correctly. Our group had to be certain that everything would fit and look neat together. Every component was covered with a coating of spray paint and foam core, which needed to be kept clean.

Where do you think the alien is traveling in his spaceship?

When we first saw the glass piece, our group imagined that the alien would be in his spaceship, flying around to different planets and meeting its inhabitants. The name I Come in Peace made us believe that the alien was talking to people and trying to make friends.

Which part of the diorama are you most proud of?

We are most proud of the lights on the diorama. It took a lot of work to position them correctly and place the wiring so it is unobtrusive to the rest of the diorama.

The electrical wiring for the lights is carefully concealed underneath the console.

The electrical wiring for the lights is carefully concealed underneath the console.

Who worked on the diorama? Which parts were they responsible for?

Aaron and Robert drilled down the console, platform and the chair. They also ripped apart the motherboards, and several people had to use band aids due to many injuries. Edward created the artwork on the N64 game, and created the design for the diorama using a 3D program (Sketch-Up), which worked out all the dimensions. Tran worked on spray painting the foam, diorama floor, and console buttons. Paolo and Jerry worked on gluing down and securing most of the decorations on the console and chair.

Peace.3

 

Katie Phelps, Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator, is rounding off her second year at Museum of Glass. She is an alumnus of Whitman College (BA) and University of Washington (MA). In her life outside of the Museum she is outside as much as possible, wearing skis as often as she does hiking boots.   

Tizz Ausome Diorama Ausomeness

By Katie Phelps, Museum of Glass Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator

In our new display, Glass-o-rama: Habitats for Kids Design Glass, we challenged local high school art students to design a diorama inspired by one of our Kids Design Glass pieces. The three selected dioramas are currently on display in the Grand Hall through September 7, 2014. I interviewed Kenai Brazier, Courtney Cox , and Justin Kon, from Federal Way High School to find out more about the diorama they created for Tis Ausome Landshark Ausomeness.

Kenai Brazier, Courtney Cox, Kara Hatcher, Justin Kon, Jalal Lawrence, Elizabeth Abramchuk pose with their diorama

Kenai Brazier, Courtney Cox, Kara Hatcher, Justin Kon, Jalal Lawrence, Elizabeth Abramchuk pose with their diorama.

How did you make the Sea Cave featured in your diorama? It looks so realistic!

KB: For the bulk of the diorama we used pink insulation foam that was nailed together, and then sawed into the shapes we wanted it to be. After that we hand-carved into the foam with a heat knife, and sanded it with sandpaper. We dry-brushed the cliffs with a wide assortment of acrylic paint. Glitter Glue was then added to parts I knew I wanted the light to hit to create an underwater feel so that way it would separate it from the half with the Landshark on it.

Planks of foam were sculpted and then glued together to make the Sea Cave.

Planks of foam were sculpted and then glued together to make the Sea Cave.

What other materials did you use to create a realistic environment for your diorama?

JK: We used air dried clay to sculpt the mushrooms and the clam. We used a ping pong ball for the pearl. We used actual sand and pebbles for the sea floor; we also used a real clam shell. For our sea queen we used a Barbie.

Sand is carefully applied to make the sea floor.

Sand is carefully applied to make the sea floor.

Which part of the diorama are you most proud of?

JK:  It’s hard to choose just one when everything turned out so “ausome”, I am especially proud of how the cliff turned out since it was such a large task.

CC: The most challenging part of making the diorama was making sure everybody agreed on things like the structure.

KB: The Sea Queen….definitely the Sea Queen. Originally she was going to be cut out of the diorama because she would be a distraction from the Landshark. However, I fought for her to stay in the diorama because I thought that it was critical for our diorama to tell a story. In a story you need a plot, a conflict, and a meaningful ending. The Sea Queen ended up playing an important role in our diorama because of her critical role in our story. And, all of the hard work Kara put into making her  is what I believe put our diorama idea above the rest.

A 25lb weight was place on top of the diorama to make sure that the Sea Cave was strong enough to support the glass artwork.

A 25lb weight was place on top of the diorama to make sure that the Sea Cave was strong enough to support the glass artwork.

Who worked on the diorama? Which parts were they responsible for?

CC:  There were a total of six people in our team, Kenai Brazier, Courtney Cox, Kara Hatcher, Justin Kon, Jalal Lawrence, and  Elizabeth Abramchuk. Everybody pitched in to create the diorama and offered up ideas and solutions. Kenai did most of the designing. Kara did most of the work on the Sea Queen. Elizabeth did a lot of the painting; she helped paint the rocks, the cave, the throne and the mushrooms. Jalal helped with sanding and carving the foam. Justin helped a lot with the carving. He also, worked on the electronics. I mostly helped with sanding and painting.

Katie Phelps, Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator, is rounding off her second year at Museum of Glass. She is an alumnus of Whitman College (BA) and University of Washington (MA). In her life outside of the Museum she is outside as much as possible, wearing skis as often as she does hiking boots.   

The French Glass Tradition

By Walt Lieberman, Artist, Educator and Hot Shop Emcee

France has a long and proud tradition in glass. Throughout the ages, the French artists have made important contributions to the field. The French first come to prominence with the stained glass windows in great cathedrals of the Middle Ages. These magnificent windows were the jewels in the crown of these stately buildings. They were an expression of great art and great faith. You can still see them today in churches like Sainte-Chapelle, Chartres and Notre Dame.

Scene of Baptism Stained glass Last quarter of the 12th century. From the Sainte-Chapelle de Paris Paris, France

Scene of Baptism
Stained glass
Last quarter of the 12th century. From the Sainte-Chapelle de Paris
Paris, France

There were also other lesser known, but equally impressive traditions such as the lampworked glass figures called “verre de Nevers”. Starting in the 1600s, French artisans made beautiful and highly detailed figures. The figures were made from glass rods melted on to a metal wire armature. The subjects spanned the gamut from lowly farm animals to Marie Antoinette.

"Marie Antoinette Sacrifices the Heart of the Nobility on the Alter of the French Republic" Pierre Haly, lampworked glass Nevers, France 1790

“Marie Antoinette Sacrifices the Heart of the Nobility on the Alter of the French Republic”
Pierre Haly,
lampworked glass
Nevers, France
1790

The process for making large mirrors was invented in France in the late 1600s. This was done by casting large rough glass plates, which were then ground down and polished. You can see spectacular examples of this in the Hall of Mirrors at Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles.

In the 1700s France saw the beginnings of the great crystal factories of Baccarat and St. Louis (pronounced sahn-loo-ee). They made glass favored by royalty and elegant tableware and sparkling chandeliers. The pure brilliant lead glass was cut with perfection and skill. In the 1800s the St. Louis the oldest glass factory in France made intricate paperweights unsurpassed in their skillful execution.

Vase Compagnie des Verreries et Cristalleries de Baccarat France about 1889-1898

Vase
Compagnie des Verreries et Cristalleries de Baccarat
France
about 1889-1898

Floral Paperweight Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint Louis, Late 1800s

Floral Paperweight
Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint Louis,
Late 1800s

Perhaps the greatest French influence on glassmaking was the artist Emile Gallé. Gallé started in his father’s factory and went on to become the most important glass artist of the Art Nouveau movement. His interests in botany, nature and poetry were major influences in his work. He is most famous for his cameo vases, which were made with multiple layers of different colored glasses. They were then carved back through those layers to create intricate multi-colored designs that often featured the flora and fauna of the Lorraine where he lived and worked. His work was an inspiration to many others like the Daum brothers of Nancy, France and even Orrefors, the famous Swedish glass factory

Le Débat éternel (The Eternal Debate) Emile Gallé Mold-blown, cased and cut glass Nancy, France about 1889-1898

Le Débat éternel (The Eternal Debate)
Emile Gallé
Mold-blown, cased and cut glass
Nancy, France
about 1889-1898

René Lalique was the French genius of glass for the industrial age. He was a major artist of the Art Deco period, but started his career as a jeweler. He shocked the aristocracy by using colored glass together with precious metals and jewels in his pieces. Later, he would build a business on glass alone. He produced beautiful art glass utilizing the means of mass production and was one of the few glass artists to build a very successful business. Lalique made everything under the sun out of glass, including clocks, fountains, vases and even hood ornaments for cars.

"Escargot" René Lalique Mold-blown glass Combs-la-Ville, France 1920

“Escargot”
René Lalique
Mold-blown glass
Combs-la-Ville, France
1920

Today the French art glass is alive and well thanks to the outstanding artists of Biot. The Museum of Glass has been honored to welcome them to our Hot Shop in the past and hopes to continue developing this special glass art relationship.