Lessons Learned Through Hot Shop Heroes

By Chad Widmer, Hot Shop Heroes student

In the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire glassmaking classes, I’ve observed that there are a lot of life lessons in glassblowing. For example, always keep the glass turning and don’t let it get off center. If you keep turning when you are off center, you will get horribly out of shape! Let go of things that don’t go right—just make another one. Sometimes you just have to work with what you get. You can shape things when they are ready, but if they are not, you might break something if you force it. And, make gravity your friend—sound advice for any profession.

I suppose, what we veterans are doing in the Hot Shop Heroes program is art therapy. For me, it is making a difference. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to anything. The civilian world is just different than the military world. I’ve been out for a while and it’s good to be around people who speak the same language again. I am genuinely happy to see everyone at the start of each Hot Shop Heroes session, and I am deeply disappointed if I miss one. We are working on teams again. We look out for each other by shielding with paddles, opening the furnace doors, and watching each other’s sculptures progress. Nothing beats seeing the genuine joy in someone’s eyes when they blow cap a bubble for the first time.

In my day job, I am a marine biologist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (I used the GI Bill and Army College fund to pay for college). I designed and curated the jellyfish exhibition, which exemplifies jellyfish as living art. The exhibit is filled with jellyfish, paintings, sculpture, and music. Glass is of course a natural fit. I’ve been adding pieces we have made in class inside of my jellyfish displays.

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As I progress, I hope to add some amazing substrates for deep-sea creatures to live on—stay tuned. The thing I love most about working with glass is that with enough practice you can make anything you want. I love that freedom.

People sometimes say, “Thank you for your service.” I don’t know how to respond to that… but I can now sincerely say to the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Heroes program, “Thank you for making it worth it.”

Five Minutes with Lino Tagliapietra

The Maestro returns to the Museum of Glass Hot Shop, October 26 through 28, for his third Visiting Artist Residency of the year! We caught up with him before he and his team arrive in the Hot Shop next week.

Lino Tagliapietra in the Museum of Glass. Photo courtesy of Museum of Glass.

Lino Tagliapietra in the Museum of Glass. Photo courtesy of Museum of Glass.

This is your third residency at Museum of Glass this year! Our visitors really enjoy seeing you work in the Hot Shop. What do you enjoy most about working at Museum of Glass?

What I really like about working at MOG is blowing glass with the Team in the Hot Shop!

How does the atmosphere of the hot shop shape your work?

What really shaped my way of working is the freedom that you can feel in the hot shop.

What advice do you have for aspiring glass artists?

I would love to tell them just three words: freedom, courage, and…a dash of luck!

Now for some fun questions. What is the first thing you do when you travel back to Italy?

The first thing I do when I go back to Murano is eat a plate of spaghetti with Italian broccolini. So good!

Which place has the best coffee – Seattle or Murano?

I like both, but at the moment I am missing the Murano one!

What is your favorite meal to cook for family and friends?

I love making sea snail soup. I like soup (sopa in the Venice dialect).

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Lino Tagliapietra working in the Hot Shop from October 26 through 28, or watch his residency online.

Behind the Gray Walls: Installing Into the Deep

By Katie Buckingham, Assistant Curator

Most of my job is a lot like every other office job. My desk is in a cubicle, and I usually spend my days attending meetings and hopping between Word, Excel, and Microsoft Office. But, one of my favorite parts of my job is when I get to escape my desk and step behind our gray temporary walls to install the art in our exhibitions.

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Working on one of our newest exhibitions, Into the Deep, is one of my favorite projects so far – partially because the work in the exhibition presented some interesting challenges, and partially (ok, mostly) because it is a show I’ve been working on curating for almost two years. It was an amazing experience to finally meet artwork I had only seen in photos and to stand in 3D space that I had only been visualizing on paper.

One of my curatorial goals was to give visitors a sense of the diverse number of ways you can use glass to make art. To fulfill this goal I looked for artwork that was as different as possible from the hand-sculpted vase or bowl many you probably have at home. This goal had a fun side-effect for me – several of the pieces in the exhibition presented our Curatorial team with some unique installation challenges.

Blue Dome, by Seattle-based artist Kait Rhoads, is a giant (almost 9-foot tall) dome covered with individual blue glass scales. Visitors are encouraged to stand inside the dome and look up to feel like they are standing underwater.

Kait Rhoads (American, born 1995). Blue Dome, 1995. Single-strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels; Courtesy of the artist.

Kait Rhoads (American, born 1995). Blue Dome, 1995. Single-strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels; Courtesy of the artist.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to attach each of the scales individually. The dome structure is made from a sturdy, steel frame. Kait Rhoads created a system where sheets of scales (attached individually to chicken wire) could be hung in sections across the metal frame.

Artist Kait Rhoads (in center of dome) works with MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro to connect a section of glass scales to the steel frame. On the left of the frame, you can see small tags that are used to mark the connection points for the sections of scales.

Artist Kait Rhoads (in center of dome) works with MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro to connect a section of glass scales to the steel frame. On the left of the frame, you can see small tags that are used to mark the connection points for the sections of scales.

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Art installation is definitely a team effort. Here, Rebecca Engelhardt (MOG’s Exhibition/Collections Manager) and Kait Rhoads hold a section of scales on the outside of the dome, while art handler Elizabeth Mauro secures the section to the frame with wire.

It took a team of 4 people almost 6 hours to install Blue Dome.

It took a team of four people almost six hours to install Blue Dome.

Two Seas, by Shayna Leib is another piece which took a whole team to hang on the wall. Leib is an avid scuba diver, and each of the frames in this piece represent species of coral, sea grass, or anemone seen through the lens of her underwater camera. Each of the frames is teeming with life, made from fragile, individually-sculpted pieces of glass.

Shayna Leib (Americna, born 1975). Two Seas, 2012. Glass, silver leaf and resin; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Eric Tadsen.

Shayna Leib (Americna, born 1975). Two Seas, 2012. Glass, silver leaf and resin; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Eric Tadsen.

Each of the picture frames arrived carefully packed in individual boxes, which were shipped together in a large, padded wooden crate. We unpacked and cleaned each piece of glass, using Q-Tips, glass cleaner, and canned air to dust the crevices between each glass tentacle.

A large table is set up in the galleries so each piece can be cleaned and prepared to hang on the wall.

A large table is set up in the galleries so each piece can be cleaned and prepared to hang on the wall.

Parts of Two Seas were so detailed that we had to use Q-Tips to make sure all of the surfaces were sparkly and clean. Leib uses tweezers to set each piece of glass individually into resin, and in doing so creates the effect of the individually drifting tentacles of anemones.

Parts of Two Seas were so detailed that we had to use Q-Tips to make sure all of the surfaces were sparkly and clean. Leib uses tweezers to set each piece of glass individually into resin, and in doing so creates the effect of the individually drifting tentacles of anemones.

Often, artists will provide a template along with the artwork, so that we can hang a piece on the wall to their specifications. This is especially important for a piece like Two Seas, where the frames have to hang in a grid, but close enough together so that some of the glass tentacles from adjacent frames have the appearance of overlapping with each other.

MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro marks the template for on the wall. By hanging the template on the wall using a level, she is able to push a nail through the paper template, leaving a mark on the wall where each mount needs to be attached.

MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro marks the template for on the wall. By hanging the template on the wall using a level, she is able to push a nail through the paper template, leaving a mark on the wall where each mount needs to be attached.

Each of the framed glass pieces is attached to the wall using a french cleat. A french cleat is made from two pieces of wood, cut at a corresponding angle. One half of the cleat is attached to the wall, and the other to the top of the piece of artwork (see diagram below). The wood is cut at a steep angle, which act like two puzzle pieces, locking together to secure the artwork to the wall.

The diagonal cut in a French cleat creates two puzzle pieces which lock together to secure the artwork on the wall.

The diagonal cut in a french cleat creates two puzzle pieces which lock together to secure the artwork on the wall.

Elizabeth attaches the French cleat for piece #3 to the wall, and double-checks that it is level. The small pieces of blue tape are points marked from the template where the other French cleats will be attached.

Elizabeth attaches the french cleat for piece #3 to the wall, and double-checks that it is level. The small pieces of blue tape are points marked from the template where the other French cleats will be attached.

After all of the french cleats are attached to the wall, we can hang each of the frames. Here, Elizabeth is wearing gloves to keep the glass clean.

After all of the french cleats are attached to the wall, we can hang each of the frames. Here, Elizabeth is wearing gloves to keep the glass clean.

Halfway finished! Two Seas is made of 13 framed glass compositions, which are each hung individually to the wall. Each frame is assigned a unique number, so we know which frame goes where, as well as which french cleat to use.

Halfway finished! Two Seas is made of 13 framed glass compositions, which are each hung individually to the wall. Each frame is assigned a unique number, so we know which frame goes where, as well as which french cleat to use.

Now complete, Two Seas is featured on the title wall of Into the Deep.

Now complete, Two Seas is featured on the title wall of Into the Deep.

These two pieces are just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say reef). I hope you can come down to Museum of Glass and dive on into the rest of the exhibition. Into the Deep is open through September 2017. Check out our calendar at http://museumofglass.org/event-calendar to learn more about events and activities related to the exhibition.

Katie Buckingham is the Assistant Curator 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.   

Five Minutes with David Huchthausen

David Huchthausen is renowned for his use of cold-working techniques in glass, currently demonstrated in his exhibition, David Huchthausen: A Retrospective Selection. This week, however, Huchthausen will return to working with hot glass as the Visiting Artist in the Museum’s Hot Shop.

David Huchthausen in his retrospective exhibition.

David Huchthausen in his retrospective exhibition.

I began focusing on cold working glass when…

I had always been interested in light transmission in architecture and think very three-dimensionally. After blowing glass for a few years, the limitations of the process became apparent and I began to combine hot-worked components with architectural glass in my sculptures.

My pieces are inspired by…

Science and science fiction, architecture, space exploration, and optics.

When I’m not in the studio working, I am…

Either out on my boat or at an antique show.

During my residency, I hope to demonstrate to Museum visitors…

I have not worked with hot glass for 35 years, but I intend to create experimental work during the residency, some of which will be based on my current work with the spheres. I also have plans for a group of vessels with floating figures, which expand on a direction I pursued back in the mid 1970s.

David Huchthausen (American, born 1951). Sphere 3, 2010. Cut, laminated, and optically polished glass. 12 inches. Collection of the artist. Photo by Lloyd Shugart.

David Huchthausen (American, born 1951). Sphere 3, 2010. Cut, laminated, and optically polished glass. 12 inches. Collection of the artist. Photo by Lloyd Shugart.

If I wasn’t an artist, I would be…

Possibly an architect or a museum curator.

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist David Huchthausen working in the Hot Shop from October 12 through 16, or watch his residency online.

Five Minutes with Simone Fezer

Every year, Museum of Glass invites artists to apply for a Visiting Artist Residency in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop. These residencies allow artists to explore new techniques or continue a current series with the assistance of the Museum’s Hot Shop Team.

Approximately four applicants receive residencies every year, and this year Simone Fezer from Stuttgart, Germany, is one of MOG’s Application Visiting Artists.

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Photo courtesy of Simone Fezer.

MOG caught up with Fezer before her residency this week.

I applied for a Visiting Artist Residency at Museum of Glass because…

I love traveling and working with people all over the world because that’s how you really get to enter the places you’re going to. Plus, of course, it’s a great opportunity! To be given the chance to work with a larger and skilled team is a luxury, and allows me to develop my work without the economic pressure of having to succeed at all costs.

The thing I enjoy most about working in glass is…

The different levels. I love making glass, love the physical process and the challenge, love being in the moment, dancing…Then I love the many facets of glass, its different aspects: reflecting, altering, breaking and transmitting light, its fragility and translucency, its fluidity and rigidity, its many implications as a vessel, a lense, a window, a container…

Simone Fezer. Dryad, 2013. Free-sculpted and blown glass, assembled hot. 25 x 20 x 30 cm. Photo by Jeroen Kuiper. Courtesy of the artist.

Simone Fezer. Dryad, 2013. Free-sculpted and blown glass, assembled hot. 25 x 20 x 30 cm. Photo by Jeroen Kuiper. Courtesy of the artist.

When I am not working, I am…

Outside.

If I wasn’t working with glass, I would work with…

Iron and steel, textiles and wood. As I actually am.

During my residency, I plan to…

Explore and have fun, try out things, push the boundaries…

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Simone Fezer working in the Hot Shop from October 5 through 9, or watch her residency online.