Making Treasure-trove

By Katie Phelps, Curatorial Assistant and Visiting Artist Coordinator

Our upcoming exhibition Into the Deep takes a look at glass artists who are inspired by the ocean. Glass is an incredible medium, and it allows artists to capture the effects of being underwater better than any other artistic medium.

Last November, artists Kelly O’Dell and Raven Skyriver collaborated on a series of barnacle-encrusted shells, which will be featured in the exhibition, in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop. The complex process is a great example how versatile the medium of glass can be.

The stripes on the clamshell begin as flattened pieces of cane (colored glass) which are heated until they are hot enough to stick together. Here, Nick Davis, MOG’s Hot Shop Tech, is squeezing the hot pieces of cane together so they form a flat panel.

The stripes on the clamshell begin as flattened pieces of cane (colored glass) which are heated until they are hot enough to stick together. Here, Nick Davis, MOG’s Hot Shop Tech, is squeezing the hot pieces of cane together so they form a flat panel.

Next, artist Raven Skyriver picks up the stripes of cane using a piece of hot, clear glass shaped like a plunger. The hot clear glass sticks to the flat panel of cane, and forms a half dome shape. The clear appendage will be used to shape the flat stripes of color into a bubble.

Next, artist Raven Skyriver picks up the stripes of cane using a piece of hot, clear glass shaped like a plunger. The hot clear glass sticks to the flat panel of cane, and forms a half dome shape. The clear appendage will be used to shape the flat stripes of color into a bubble.

After the flattened cane is picked up onto the plunger, Skyriver uses a pair of shears to trim away the excess glass along the edge of the circle created by the plunger, sealing it into a clear glass dome with a colorful, striped base.

After the flattened cane is picked up onto the plunger, Skyriver uses a pair of shears to trim away the excess glass along the edge of the circle created by the plunger, sealing it into a clear glass dome with a colorful, striped base.

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The newly-formed dome is heated in the glory hole, and then rolled across a steel table called a marver to create a smooth bubble that is half clear glass, and half colored cane stripes.

The newly-formed dome is heated in the glory hole, and then rolled across a steel table, called a marver,  to create a smooth bubble that is half clear glass, and half colored cane stripes.

In order to start making the clam shape, the colored stripes need to be removed from their clear glass holder. The stripe canes are pinched inward to form their own bubble, and then connected to another blowpipe, so that they can be separated from the clear glass, and blown into a clamshell shape.

In order to start making the clam shape, the colored stripes need to be removed from their clear glass holder. The stripe canes are pinched inward to form their own bubble, and then connected to another blowpipe, so that they can be separated from the clear glass, and blown into a clamshell shape.

Tah-dah! After about 45 minutes of adding more clear molten glass, inflating the bubble by breathing into the blowpipe, and carefully sculpting the shape with tools, the bubble is beginning to look more like a clamshell. You can see the stripes from the cane, which have stretched and curved as the glass has been shaped.

Tah-dah! After about 45 minutes of adding more clear molten glass, inflating the bubble by exhaling into the blowpipe, and carefully sculpting the shape with tools, the bubble is beginning to look more like a clamshell. You can see the stripes from the cane, which have stretched and curved as the glass has been shaped.

Hot Shop Team member Sarah Gilbert transfers the piece from the bench, where the artists are working, to the gloryhole for it to be heated back up to above 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to keep the glass from cooling too quickly and cracking.

Hot Shop Team member Sarah Gilbert transfers the piece from the bench, where the artists are working, to the gloryhole for it to be heated back up to above 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to keep the glass from cooling too quickly and cracking.

After the artists are satisfied with the shape of the clamshell, it is time to attach the barnacles. These fabulous acorn barnacles are also made of glass. They were created ahead of time by Kelly O’Dell, and in then placed in a furnace in the Hot Shop called the garage – named because pieces are heated to 900 degrees and “parked” at that temperature until they are ready to be used.

After the artists are satisfied with the shape of the clamshell, it is time to attach the barnacles. These fabulous acorn barnacles are also made of glass. They were created ahead of time by Kelly O’Dell, and in then placed in a furnace in the Hot Shop calls the garage – named because pieces are heated to 900 degrees and “parked” at that temperature until they are ready to be used.

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Just before the barnacles are placed on the clamshell, they are loaded onto a pastorale (a flat, metal tray) and heated in the gloryhole to make them the same temperature as the shell.

Kelly O’Dell attaches a heated barnacle to the clamshell using a pair of tweezers. A torch is being used to keep the rest of the glass at the same temperature. Kelly also has a torch which she is using to heat the bottom of the barnacle so the hot glass can stick to the surface of the clamshell.

Kelly O’Dell attaches a heated barnacle to the clamshell using a pair of tweezers. A torch is being used to keep the rest of the glass at the same temperature. Kelly also has a torch which she is using to heat the bottom of the barnacle so the hot glass can stick to the surface of the clamshell.

After the barnacles are applied the whole piece is heated back up in the gloryhole.

After the barnacles are applied, the whole piece is heated back up in the gloryhole.

Now that all of the barnacles have been placed on the shell, the piece is complete. Water is dripped onto the end of the piece, which causes a crack to form where the piece meets the punty (the metal rod it is connected to) and allows the piece to be broken off of the pipe.

Now that all of the barnacles have been placed on the shell, the piece is complete. Water is dripped onto the end of the piece, which causes a crack to form where the piece meets the punty (the metal rod it is connected to) and allows the piece to be broken off of the pipe.

Success! The finished piece is rushed to an annealer, so that it can be cooled slowly overnight to room temperature.

Success! The finished piece is rushed to an annealer, so that it can be cooled slowly overnight to room temperature.

Kelly O’Dell (American, born 1973) and Raven Skyriver (American, born 1982); Treasure-trove, 2016; Blown and sculpted glass; 12 x 16 x 13 inches (30.5 x 40.6 x 33 cm); Courtesy of the artists; Photo by Kp Studios.

After the piece is completely cooled, it is coldworked to add texture to the surface of the shell, and a mount is made. Photo credit: Kelly O’Dell (American, born 1973) and Raven Skyriver (American, born 1982); Treasure-trove, 2016; Blown and sculpted glass; 12 x 16 x 13 inches (30.5 x 40.6 x 33 cm); Courtesy of the artists; Photo by Kp Studios.

The finished piece, Treasure-trove, will be one of the many ocean-inspired pieces featured in Into the Deep. The exhibition opens September 24, 2016. Come check it out!

Thanks to Alex Grümmer for the awesome Hot Shop photos!

Katie Phelps is the Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator 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 Judith Schaechter

Visiting Artist Judith Schaechter will be working in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop from May 25 through 29. Schaechter is known for her use of stained glass to depict parables with religious and medieval iconography and human imperfections showcased in lavish detail. Her narrative approach finds expression in an eerie world of portraits that reference subversive imagery, carnival, the absurd, and the grotesque. Museum of Glass recently caught up with the Visiting Artist.

I was first attracted to stained glass when…

I started out at Rhode Island School of Design as a painting major, and the graduate painting studios were on the same floor as the glass shop. So, in seeking out the painters’ work, I happened upon the stained glass class and I really wanted to try it. Then I did…and I knew pretty much immediately that I wanted to do that forever.

I use my art to transform the wretched into the beautiful because…

I can!

Judith Schaechter; Horse Accident, 2015; Stained glass, cut, sandblasted, engraved, painted, stained and fired, cold paint and assembled with copper foil; 33 x 45 inches; Photo by Dom Episcopo.

Judith Schaechter; Horse Accident, 2015; Stained glass, cut, sandblasted, engraved, painted, stained and fired, cold paint and assembled with copper foil; 33 x 45 inches; Photo by Dom Episcopo.

My favorite display of medieval stained glass is…

Probably be in a parish church, somewhere in England. I really want to go to York, England, and see some of the stuff in churches there. In a curated setting, then probably the V & A Museum in London. But stained glass really looks best in churches.

I always travel with

My laptop. I don’t really like to travel, but I like to stay connected if I do!

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

Probably take up 3-D animation again. There are two things in my life that lured me when I got burnt out on stained glass. The first was writing (and performing) songs, the second was 3-D digital animation. I truly regretted not having another life to pursue those interests, and doing it halfway made me so sad that I actually quit both. But I grieved their loss. I also wanted to be a writer and psychologist…but that wasn’t quite as tempting as visual art.

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Judith Schaechter working or watch her residency online.

Hot Shop Intern for the Day

By Alex Carr, Communications Manager

The Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team once again kindly extended the invitation to be a Hot Shop intern for the day to Museum staff – a unique opportunity that I did not want to miss.

I completed a half-day internship in the Hot Shop last year, but was eager to return for a full day this time around. I spend a lot of time on the studio floor taking pictures for the Museum’s social media, so I have the opportunity to watch MOG’s Hot Shop artists up close. Observing them is certainly enough to make anyone admire their skills, but assisting them as a Hot Shop intern gave me a whole new appreciation and respect for their craft, talent, and teamwork.

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Shielding gaffer Gabe Feenan.

Thanks to their guidance, and teasing, I walked away at the end of the day having learned a few new things…

  1. Glass is delicate. The lightest touch of a paddle can change the shape of glass – something I did not quite grasp when first told to paddle lightly or paddle hard. I thought I needed to push the paddle as hard as I could against the glass vessel in order to create a flat base. Turns out, you don’t need to push that hard.
  2. Timing is everything. With the help of the full-time, and far more talented, Hot Shop intern, I worked with smaller pieces in the Hot Shop’s garage, transferring them from the garage to the furnace and then finally to the Visiting Artist, who picked them up to attach them to a vessel. There are many moving parts in the Hot Shop, so the timing between putting the vessel back into the glory hole and getting the pieces in the garage ready had to be just right.
  3. Drink water. I know, duh. But when the temperature rises outside (thank you unusually warm Puget Sound spring…) so does the temperature inside the Hot Shop, as if it wasn’t hot enough. I was reminded to drink plenty of water, but by 4 pm, the heat was becoming exhausting.  When people start to ask if you are okay because your face is turning the color of a tomato, that’s a good time to take a little break.
  4. Burned hair smells like corn nuts. It all happened so quickly. One minute I was standing by the bench with the Team’s gaffer, Gabe Feenan, and the next minute flames from his blow torch were going over my arm. Upon realizing I had lost some arm hair, and voicing my alarm, I was met with “doesn’t it smell like corn nuts?”
  5. Amber Cowan is great. Amber Cowan was the Visiting Artist for the week, and she was nothing but friendly and encouraging when I showed up for my day in the Hot Shop. In the back of my mind I was worried that she would be concerned about me assisting, but if she was, she didn’t show it.
My supervisors for the day. From left to right: Amber Cowan, Gabe Feenan, Will Bell, Sarah Gilbert, and Benjamin Cobb.

My supervisors for the day. From left to right: Amber Cowan, Gabe Feenan, Will Bell, Sarah Gilbert, and Benjamin Cobb.

Alex Carr is the Communications Manager at Museum of Glass. When she’s not circulating the Hot Shop floor trying to get the perfect Instagram shot for the Museum, you’ll find her baking at home, running at Green Lake, or exploring Washington’s wineries.

 

Five Minutes with Preston Singletary

Preston Singletary will be working in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop from May 11 to 15. Museum of Glass caught up with the Visiting Artist before his residency to talk a little about glass, family, and music.

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I started working in glass when…

I got a job at Glass Eye Studio in 1982. I started as a “night watchman” filling the furnaces up and sweeping the floor. I started on the production floor four months later and made Christmas balls and paperweights.

The most rewarding aspect of my career is…

When I figured out how to connect my glass making to my Tlingit Alaskan Native heritage. It opened up many new perspectives and connected me to my roots.

Preston Singletary E-News April 2016

When I’m not in the studio…

I’m busy being a father and raising my two youngest kids. I also moonlight as a musician. I have been recording two different projects which connect to Tlingit culture in a contemporary way, the same way my glass does.

The last place I traveled to was…

Alaska to work on a piece I had installed last spring.

The best part about living in the Pacific Northwest is…

The community of artists and musicians. It’s a beautiful place that I’ve never found a reason to leave!

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Preston Singletary working or watch his residency online.

Care and Handling of Artwork at Museum of Glass: Protection from Thieves and Vandals and Disassociation

By Rebecca Engelhardt, Registrar/Collections Manager

As part of our ongoing series on the care of artwork at Museum of Glass (MOG), this post reviews the methods that we employ for protecting our collections from thieves and vandalism.

When not on view, artwork at MOG is stored in a secure space with limited access.

When not on view, artwork at MOG is stored in a secure space with limited access.

It is always a delicate balance between putting artwork out for visitors to enjoy today and protecting pieces for future visitors to appreciate. This explains the myriad of Plexiglas® vitrines and metal barriers you often encounter in MOG’s galleries: they protect artwork while it is out on display.

Dale Chihuly’s artwork from our exhibition, Origins: Early works by Dale Chihuly, 2009, rests safely inside Plexiglas® vitrines in the gallery.

Dale Chihuly’s artwork from our exhibition, Origins: Early works by Dale Chihuly, 2009, rests safely inside Plexiglas® vitrines in the gallery.

Sometimes it is not possible to fit artwork inside a vitrine, so we use metal railings (stanchions) to encourage visitors to stand back and enjoy.

Sometimes it is not possible to fit artwork inside a vitrine, so we use metal railings (stanchions) to encourage visitors to stand back and enjoy.

Lots of artwork comes in and out of MOG for our exhibitions and storage in our Permanent Collection. Each of these objects is logged into our database and tracked as it makes its journey.

Screen shot from MOG’s The Museum System database.

Screen shot from MOG’s The Museum System database.

Goblets from the traveling exhibition Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass are tagged for inventory control prior to deinstallation at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., 2008. This ensures that each piece is packed in the correct box and tracked as it is shipped to the next venue.

Goblets from the traveling exhibition Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass are tagged for inventory control prior to deinstallation at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., 2008. This ensures that each piece is packed in the correct box and tracked as it is shipped to the next venue.

Registrar/Collections Manager completes condition report of work by Fred Wilson from the exhibition Mining Glass. Before pieces of art are packed and shipped, each component is inspected and any concerns or details are noted on the condition report. The process is repeated after the piece has arrived safely at the next location, and ensures that the artwork stays safe.

Registrar/Collections Manager completes condition report of work by Fred Wilson from the exhibition Mining Glass. Before pieces of art are packed and shipped, each component is inspected and any concerns or details are noted on the condition report. The process is repeated after the piece has arrived safely at the next location, and ensures that the artwork stays safe.

The information tracked by the Museum not only forms the historical provenance of the artwork, but is invaluable in the event of a loss or damage that either requires repair by a conservator or filing an insurance claim.

These methods of inventory control also protect against a condition called “disassociation”. Disassociation results from the natural tendency for ordered systems to fall apart over time. Objects in museums which have been separated from their history or meaning have limited historical or cultural value.

For example, the amazing installation Landscape, created by artists Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman in 2008-2010 (now in the Museum’s Permanent Collection) and composed of over 400 individual pieces of glass, could become a pile of scrap glass if it was separated from its inventory control sheet and installation map.

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Or this bowl, which we know is made by Barovier & Toso, one of the oldest Venetian glass families, loses its significance if we don’t retain that information for future generations of museum staff, researchers, and visitors.

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Much like those photographs of mysterious ancestors that find their way into antique shops,if you don’t know their names and the names of their descendants, the photos lose much of their historic value.

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Stay tuned for more posts from MOG’s curatorial team, including protecting art from fire, water, and pests!

Rebecca Engelhardt is the Registrar/Collections Manager at Museum of Glass. Her background includes ten years at MOG, plus time at major museums such as Smithsonian Institution and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.