Category Archives: Hot Shop

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.

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.

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. 

The Season of Hilltop Artists

By Bonnie Wright, Curator of Education and Community Engagement

There’s so much Hilltop Artists programming in the community this summer and fall, both at Museum of Glass and in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood!

Hilltop Artists students and the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team.

Hilltop Artists students and the Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team.

Hilltop Artists Residency, August 10-14

Hilltop Artists worked in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop last week making centerpieces for their Better Futures Luncheon. Check out MOG’s Meet the Artist video featuring these young students!

Hilltop Street Fair, August 27

Come visit both the Museum of Glass booth and the Hilltop Artists booth at the Hilltop Street Fair from 11 am to 7 pm on Saturday, August 27! Celebrate art, music, and fun activities in the Hilltop neighborhood on Martin Luther King Way between 9th and 13th Streets.

Hilltop Artists Make Your Own Glass Floats at MOG, September 24-25

Try your hand at blowing glass, guided by a Hilltop Artist at Museum of Glass! Make your own glass float to celebrate the opening weekend of the Into the Deep exhibition!

Photo courtesy of Hilltop Artists.

Photo courtesy of Hilltop Artists.

Hilltop Artists Make Your Own Glass Pumpkins at MOG, October 1-2 & 29-30

You’ve tried blowing glass….now, how about sculpting it? Kick off your fall with this unique paperweight workshop, led by a Hilltop Artist!

Make Your Own

And don’t forget, you can catch Hilltop Artists working in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop on the Third Thursday of each month from 5 to 8 pm!

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.