Earlier this week, the Tacoma Museum District (TMD), which includes the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Art Museum, Foss Waterway Seaport, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, and LeMay – America’s Car Museum, and Museum of Glass, collectively addressed plans for reopening.
For now, all five organizations have chosen to stay “paused” and continue to monitor local conditions on a daily basis. While the buildings are closed, many staff are working remotely to provide enriching online presentations and activities, as well as providing extensive downloadable learning materials to engage with history, arts, and culture from home.
Who doesn’t miss afternoons in the Hot Shop watching the Team in action? Well don’t worry, because for back-to-back weekends Museum of Glass is taking the Mobile Hot Shop to the streets! Starting August 28, MOG will be activating the outdoor plaza with live glassblowing, scavenger hunts, and artmaking activities from 12–3pm.
In addition to demos operated out of the Mobile Hot Shop, the Museum Store will be open and featuring new items for sale. The MOG Education staff will also host a limited amount of hands-on activities, which will vary by day and are free to participate. The activity schedule is as follows:
Friday, Aug. 28 & Sept. 4 – Creating coneheads: Color and decorate a vintage
conehead hat pattern.
Saturday, Aug. 29 & Sept. 5 – Painting on glass jars.
Sunday, Aug. 30 & Sept. 6 – Crafting suncatchers: Using recycled glass, create a 2D mosaic suncatcher to extend summer’s sunshine rays.
Join the Museum for some fun in the sun before the always short Washington summer ends. Members should also be sure to stop by the education table with your member card to receive a small token of gratitude for your support!
With internet searches for the term “face mask” reaching an all-time high this year, it’s safe to say that the hunt for the perfect protective facial wear has been a task most of us have endured, including Museum of Glass.
Since World Mask Week is happening right now, we reached out to MOG’s mask supplier, and Tacoma’s local textile maker space Productivity Parlour for Artful Living, to have Co-director Naarah McDonald answer a few questions about how they pivoted to mask production and are working to support local front line workers.
What made you decide to start this program and when did mask production begin?
We began producing masks in early March when a client asked if we would make some for her to gift to medical personnel. While the easy answer was yes, we also knew this would likely be a greater community need. We asked our personal connections if they would be interested in sponsoring masks for the community at large. The overwhelming response was yes. We also knew that folks would likely need some for personal use as recommendations were starting to suggest cloth masks for the public. At the start, we offered sponsorship only or get one, give one for adult size, and initially, we only offered one design. We did a lot of research on mask options that we could produce and found the initial design was the most flexible in terms of fitting the widest range of folks, allowed for a filter to be inserted, and had a nose contour strip. We have expanded our options a bit since then. As campaigns started locally and nationally for masks for medical and other essential frontline workers, we really felt that the organizations that would most benefit from our donations would be those that were addressing needs for marginalized/disadvantaged communities. We asked for recommendations from our community to direct our resources where they would be most effective locally. We have added some groups outside our region, like the Navajo Nation and a farmworkers group, because of the impact the virus has had in these communities.
How many masks have been donated so far?
Out of the over 1000 masks produced so far, a little over 600 have been donated to food banks, rescue missions, schools, medical personnel, community members that couldn’t afford to purchase them, assisted living homes, and community groups or individuals doing street outreach.
Within a video posted on Productivity Parlour’s YouTube Channel, it was mentioned that some materials had been donated by individuals to help produce these masks. Are you still in need of any of these materials? If so, what is the need and how can people help?
We have had community members donate 100% cotton materials and elastic to help with producing masks. Prior to this pandemic, we accepted material donations to help keep our class costs down and provide access to sewing resources for anyone who would like to learn this skill. During the earlier days of the pandemic, we fairly quickly depleted our on-hand materials to make and distribute masks as quickly as possible. Our community really came through for us as we worked on replenishing fabric and elastic, both through purchase and donation, to be able to continue working. It really is a community effort to make this happen.
Productivity Parlour has several great classes for learning textile skills featured on your website, but with the current state of how businesses are slowly reopening how have you planned to reintroduce classes to fit this “new norm”?
As with many businesses, this shift in public safety and community responsibility has impacted how we are able to do business. With rises in daily numbers, we are not sure we can safely and effectively hold classes the way we had been. We are gearing up to open one-on-one/family classes in our space on a limited basis. For the last month, we have been offering individual appointments for alterations or custom designs. We will continue to assess as we move forward how best to relaunch our classes safely for staff and clients.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like us to know about Productivity Parlour?
As Spacework alums and a creative micro-business, we are tremendously thankful to our growing community for supporting us as we pivot during these challenging times. Our goal from the beginning was to create an inclusive environment where anyone who wanted to learn textile arts had a place to go. In addition to teaching, we are active in performing arts as costume designers (though not currently due to the impact on the arts), historical costuming in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and provide alterations and custom designs.
Just as we were getting ready to close Museum of Glass to slow the spread of COVID-19 we received some great news from the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), an organization that has been promoting the value of arts in Washington communities since 1961.
The Washington State Arts Commission, through its partnership with Creative Forces*, has provided MOG’s Hot Shop Heroes™ program with a $1,400 grant to purchase tools, molds and glass for the Museum’s new Hot Shop Heroes Advanced Production Class, which launched in January 2020. Through this award, Hot Shop Heroes was also able to purchase a customized mold for signing glass art pieces created during the class. Members of the class are learning how to create salable glass art for the Museum of Glass store. The Advanced Production Class gives participants a chance to pay-it-forward. Proceeds generated from the sale of these items benefit the Hot Shop Heroes program.
Since 2013 MOG’s Hot Shop Heroes program has offered glassmaking classes for soldiers and veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Museum of Glass partners with the Warrior Transition Battalion and the Intrepid Spirit Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.
To learn more about ArtsWA visit: arts.wa.gov
*Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies that seeks to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers.
Pride month may be over, but for the month of July, Glass Break will be highlighting LGBTQ+ artists ALL MONTH LONG. If you don’t know what Glass Break is, here’s a little background. Glass Break is a new video series exploring topics related to all things glass. This series includes interviews with the MOG Hot Shop Team discussing their experience working with the featured Visiting Artists, past clips of live glassblowing, and much more.
This week MOG’s own Sarah Gilbert will be featured with some throwback footage from her most recent residency in the Hot Shop.
Tune in Friday, July 10 at 1pm and enjoy a Glass Break with MOG!
About the artist: Sarah Gilbert received her BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005. Utilizing glass to communicate a narrative, Gilbert catalogs and documents the stories of daily life. Her work has been shown around the world and she was recently a Hauberg Fellow at Pilchuck Glass School. Gilbert was also chosen as part of Young Glass, the competitively juried international exhibition featuring the work of emerging artists working in glass, held once a decade at Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark.