Category Archives: Glass

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.”

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 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.

Take Home the Perfect Into the Deep Souvenir

This weekend, Into the Deep opens at Museum of Glass. Celebrate the Museum’s new exhibition with a marine-themed token to remind you of your visit!

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For those who want to learn more about marine life, pick up a copy of Ocean: A Photicular Book for $25.95. Readers of all ages will enjoy the book’s Photicular technology, which transforms each photo into a moving 3-D image.

Our creative visitors should check out our selection of coloring and origami books, including Mosaic Art, featuring sea creatures, for $14.95. Suggestions: pair this with a set of Chihuly Workshop coloring pencils! You’ll even find a piece by Dale Chihuly in Into the Deep.

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Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941). Persian Sea Forms, 1988. Blown glass. 67 x 120 inches (170.2 x 304.8 cm). Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of George F. Russell, Jr. Photo by Terry Rishel.

And of course there is plenty of glass available for purchase in the Museum of Glass Store. Add a little aquatic décor to your home with the Store’s variety of Global Village Glass Studio creatures. Choose from mini fish and hermit crabs for $10 or the larger dolphins for $30.

Become a Museum of Glass member and save 10% every time you shop at the Museum Store. You’ll also enjoy extra seasonal discounts throughout the year!

Experiments in the Hot Shop with Bryan Kekst Brown

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

Last week metals and jewelry artist Bryan Kekst Brown came to Museum of Glass with some very interesting projects. We began the week creating tanks for electro-forming metal. This was the first time that electrodes have been attached to glass at Museum of Glass, as far as I know. It provided a special challenge for the Team’s gaffer, Gabe Feenan, as the electrodes are encased in borosilicate glass, while ours is soda-lime glass. At first they didn’t want to stick together nicely, but Gabe persevered and made it work.

Things started heating up when Bryan decided to pour liquid metal into a cup of liquid glass. He began by melting strips of copper in a small crucible with an oxy-propane torch.

At the same time, Gabe made a cup of clear glass, and the Team’s starter, Sarah Gilbert, used the gathering ball to pull some liquid glass from the furnace. In quick succession, Gabe broke the cup off and placed it on the table, Sarah dumped her gathers in, and then Bryan poured the liquid metal inside. It was very exciting!

Next, Bryan began melting ingots of silver in the same manner, and the Team repeated the process. It was very interesting to see how the metals behaved in a bath of liquid glass.

We found this so interesting because copper and silver are common colorants for metal. Copper is known to make ruby, green, and blue glasses. Once the piece cooled down, we were happy to see that there was a lovely cloud of copper blue, where the metal had slid by the glass, and a big pile of copper at the bottom of the cup.

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Silver is known to make yellow glass and shades of blue as well. The first attempt resulted in shattered glass around the silver, but the second attempt was successful, and left a wonderful bit of opaque blue as a record of what happened.

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I look forward to seeing Bryan’s experiments in the future. If you would like to see more of his work, check out his website http://www.bryankekstbrown.com/. He will be posting images from his residency over the next few weeks.

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.