Five Minutes with Ann Gardner

Catch up with Visiting Artist Ann Gardner before her second residency at Museum of Glass!

Ann Gardner working on the Long Day/Long Night installation for the Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska.
Ann Gardner working on the Long Day/Long Night installation for the Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska.

The last time I worked with hot glass was…

My last residency at MOG, so that was around 10 years ago. It was great and I am looking forward this week.

During my Museum of Glass residency I plan to…

Experiment with breath, using blown glass as a barrier to breath. I am asking the blowers to blow organic shapes, a little off center, exploring how to do this to create unusual off-centered shapes. We will be experimenting—I’m excited.

I am inspired by…

Materials, ideas, trying new things, and the natural world and beauty. Honest work, whatever the medium.

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

Probably be painting, however, I always told my husband If I wasn’t an artist I would be a detective, so who knows.

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Ann Gardner working from June 29 through July 3, or watch her residency online.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a….Volcano?

By Kate Sandoval, Frontline Representative

While most Museum-goers want to know about what’s happening inside Museum of Glass, many visitors also want to know what’s going on outside. The most popular questions I get about the outside of the Museum are related to the architectural marvel we call “The Cone.”

cone jan2

Standing 90-feet tall, the shimmering funnel has become an iconic aspect of the Tacoma skyline. Covered in 2,800 diamond shaped shingles made of stainless steel, the structure reinvents its identity with each passing person.

Some guests say the cone reminds them of the beehive burners that once lined the Thea Foss Waterway. MOG’s architect, Arthur Erickson, did in fact designed the cone to be reminiscent of the wood-burning sawmills once common in this part of the country.

Other visitors let their imagination take flight when they see the cone. I have had guests tell me they see a shimmering upside-down waffle cone! More than once people have shared with me the cone looks like a mini volcano! But, my favorite interpretation of the cone was a guest who said the building looked like a James Bond villain’s lair!

So what do you see when you look at the unique architecture of Museum of Glass? Do you see a cone? An upside down ice cream? Something completely different? Leave a reply and let us know what comes to mind when you’re gazing at Tacoma’s distinctive landmark.

Kate Sandoval is part of the Visitor Services team at Museum of Glass. She is currently pursuing her BA in Art, Media & Culture from the University of Oklahoma. When she’s not working or studying, she enjoys long walks to the refrigerator, midnight snacks, and Netflix.

Care and Feeding of the Glass Furnace

By Greg Owen, Manager of Audience Engagement and Hot Shop Heroes 

The artists that work in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop require fresh, hot glass, which is free from imperfections, in order to realize their creations. It is the responsibility of the Museum’s Hot Shop technicians to keep the furnaces filled up and in good working order. The two furnaces at Museum of Glass have 1,000-pound appetites, and they need to be fed fairly often. The furnaces also live fast and die young; burning at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, 24 hours a day, for years at a time is a rough life. They eventually deteriorate and have to be rebuilt, which is an expensive and time-consuming process. Melting beautiful glass is a balance between speed and quality, with the quality of the glass being the most important consideration.

Loading glass into the furnaces is called charging the furnace, and today we are going to take a look at technician Trenton Quiocho charging our day tank. Commercially available glass comes in one of two ways: in its raw, un-melted form, which is called batch, or as chunks of glass which have already been melted once, which is called cullet. Trenton begins the charging process by turning the furnace up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 160 degrees hotter than the furnace usually runs. While the furnace warms up, Trenton opens up bags of nuggets and loads them into specially designed charging trolleys.


The nuggets are rinsed off with a hose to remove any dust or impurities, which may contaminate the glass, and then wheeled over to the furnace. Some people pre-heat their glass in an oven before charging it, especially if they are using batch in a very wet climate. The charging process is a strain on the furnace. It is asked to run significantly hotter than it usually does, which causes the materials used to build the furnace to break down faster than they would otherwise. Charging is a scientific process of trying to get the highest quality of glass possible, in the shortest possible time, with the least amount of stress on the furnace.



Once the furnace is hot enough, Trenton will open the door and begin to dump glass into the furnace, being careful not to spill any glass on the area where you rest your blowpipe, called the sill. Two bags of nuggets totals 100 pounds of glass, and that is enough for one charge. You don’t want to put too much glass in at once, or the cold glass at the bottom of the pile will take too long to melt. Achieving an even, consistent melt is very important for the quality of the glass, so Trenton will use a metal rake to spread the cullet out over the surface of the glass that is already melted.


100 pounds of cullet will take an hour or so to melt, so Trenton will peek into the furnace from time to time to see how it’s doing. Once all the cold glass is completely melted, the next charge will be thrown on top. This process is then repeated throughout the day until the furnace is filled up to (but not over) the sill. When the furnace is filled completely, the temperature will be adjusted in order to bring the glass back to a good working consistency. (If the glass stayed at melting temperature, it would be so runny that it would be difficult to gather it up on the end of a blowpipe, but perfect for ladling glass into open face molds.) Unwanted bubbles are often the enemy of many glassblowers, and if there are a lot of bubbles in a fresh charge, then a squeeze is required. Squeezing the furnace is a way to push all the bubbles to the surface of the glass, so they can pop and disappear. It is achieved by lowering the temperature of the furnace so that the glass starts to shrink, and pushes the bubbles out.


You can see that quite a bit of work and thought goes into charging our furnaces at Museum of Glass. Lead technician Nick Davis and technician Trenton Quiocho work tirelessly behind the scenes in order to provide an exceptional experience for our artists and visitors.

Now when you visit Museum of Glass, you’ll know just how much our technicians do to keep the Hot Shop running!

Greg Owen is the Manager of Audience Engagement and Hot Shop Heroes at Museum of Glass. Greg can be seen working the mic as the Hot Shop studio emcee, assisting Visiting Artists, and teaching soldiers how to blow glass during Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire classes. 

Kids Design Glass: Lighting the Creative Fire Within

By Alex Carr, Communications Manager

Kids Design Glass™ (KDG) has been a core educational program at Museum of Glass MOG) since its inception in 2004, inviting children both within and without the Museum to submit their designs. Although the process of selecting and transforming drawings into glass sculptures happens inside the Museum’s Hot Shop, MOG has partnered with outside organizations to bring Kids Design Glass to new audiences.

In March, Museum of Glass worked with Camp Fire, a national youth development organization, to incorporate glass art education into the program’s educational curriculum, as well as extend a Kids Design Glass opportunity to Camp Fire’s young participants. As part of a yearlong partnership between the two organizations, Camp Fire youth 12 and under from across the nation were invited to submit their drawings to Museum of Glass, encouraging kids and families to explore the medium of glass and their own personal creativity.

With the incredible amount of creative designs submitted, choosing just one drawing is always a difficult task for the Museum’s Hot Shop Team. After reviewing all submissions, Camp Fire’s nine-year-old Luca Thede’s design, I See You, was selected.

Luca ready to see the Museum's Hot Shop Team transform his design into glass.
Luca ready to see the Museum’s Hot Shop Team transform his design into glass.
Luca reviews the work in progress as artist John Miller shows him his sculpture.
Luca reviews the work in progress as artist John Miller shows him his sculpture.

Described as a boy of little words, Luca’s mother revealed how Camp Fire has encouraged her son to meet new friends. Similarly, being the selected Kids Design Glass artist challenged Luca to take center stage, nurturing his self-confidence, and talk to the Hot Shop’s artists about his vision for the sculpture.

Luca receiving his glass sculpture from Museum of Glass Registrar, Rebecca Engelhardt; Photo by Bob Noble.
Luca receiving his glass sculpture from Museum of Glass Registrar, Rebecca Engelhardt; Photo by Bob Noble.

According to Cathy Tisdale, President and CEO of Camp Fire, this Kids Design Glass opportunity was an ideal fit for Camp Fire’s Thrive(ology) methodology and the program’s National Art Experience, which empowers youth to explore art as a hobby or career. “The intention is to positively impact youth, their purpose, life, and social skills,” shares Tisdale. “We strive to increase personal creativity, increase competency in, and learn the appropriate application of, the art medium.”

Museum of Glass will continue to partner with other organizations, including Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, in conjunction with the Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Into The Deep. Opening September 24, 2016, the new exhibition celebrates glass artists who are inspired by the ocean. It explores the way artists use glass to capture the motion and light of being underwater, as well as the colors and textures of marine life. In an effort to connect the Museum to its local marine organizations, exhibition curator Katie Buckingham believed Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium would be the perfect place to collect drawings for an Into The Deep– themed Kids Design Glass sculpture.

“It’s a natural connection,” notes Buckingham. “Children who are fascinated by the ocean and sea creatures they will now have the opportunity to apply that curiosity to a creative experience through Museum of Glass. I can’t wait to see the drawings designed by the aquarium’s youngest visitors.”

Museum of Glass and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium will collaborate on Kids Design Glass in spring 2017. The selected marine-inspired drawing will be transformed into glass on Sunday, April 30, 2017.

For all Kids Design Glass dates, visit the Museum’s calendar.

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.

Science of Art 2016 Wrap Up!

By Bonnie Wright, Curator of Education and Community Engagement 

What is Science of Art?

Science of Art is a core education program, integrating science and art themes, offered to students of all ages every spring at Museum of Glass (MOG). The concept of linking science and art is extremely popular in education today, but the Museum has been running this program since 2003!

Science of Art involves two main components: an in-class visit from a MOG Art Educator, who delivers a lesson and leads hands-on experiments, and a MOG visit by students to solidify all that has been learned from the Science of Art curriculum. Every other year, MOG alternates curricula—From Sand to Rainbows: The Prismatic Colors of Glass and The Luminous Optics of Glass. This spring, we focused on the latter.

How is the experience organized?

1) Classroom Visit from a MOG Art Educator

Ahead of this visit, MOG sends the participating teacher a detailed curriculum to familiarize the students with the material that will be discussed when the MOG Art Educator visits. When the Educator visits the classroom, s/he delivers a lesson and aids the class in hands-on discovery and experiments.


2) Museum of Glass Visit

The on-site visit takes place in several areas of the Museum:

Hot Shop

Museum emcee Greg Owen sets the stage during every visit by orienting the groups about the glassblowing process and equipment. Afterward, I explain the concept of fiber optics with the students while demonstrating with several props.



Museum docents guide the students through the current exhibitions, focusing on glass art that exemplifies the scientific concepts discussed in the curriculum.

David Huchthausen (American, born 1951); Triad, 2008; Constructed glass sculpture; 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches; Collection of Museum of Glass, gift of Linda and Arthur Schwartz.

Neon Experience

Neon artist Galen Turner engages students with a neon light demonstration in the Museum Theater.


Art Activity

Artist Jennifer Adams facilitates an art project that focuses on the curriculum. This year, students made decorative jars with glass embellishments meant to refract light and transmit different colors.


It’s hard to believe that another spring of Science of Art is over! It was a very successful year, with 984 students participating. In just the last few years, Science of Art attendance has grown rapidly—from 403 in 2013, to 666 in 2014, to 789 in 2015, and nearly 1,000 this year!

Contact the MOG Education Department staff for more details on how your students can be involved or tell an educator about the program!

Bonnie Wright is the Curator of Education and Community Engagement at Museum of Glass. A newcomer to the west coast, Bonnie can often be found exploring Tacoma, Seattle, and the region’s natural wonders.