The Forest through the Trees

By Katie Phelps, Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator

I met Landscape by Beth Lipman (American, 1971) and Ingalena Klenell (Swedish, 1949) three years ago as a graduate student at University of Washington’s Museology program. We came to Museum of Glass for one of my class field trips, and Landscape definitely made an impression. If you haven’t had a chance to see the piece, it is truly breath-taking. It is a 3D, 31×18 foot collage made of 425 thin pieces of glass that hang from the ceiling or sit on the ground to compose a wintery landscape.

Landscape, installed at Museum of Glass as a part of the exhibition Glimmering Gone - Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman which was on display August 21, 2010 – March 11, 2012.

Landscape, installed at Museum of Glass as a part of the exhibition Glimmering Gone – Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman which was on display August 21, 2010 – March 11, 2012.

As I sat on a bench looking at the piece, I turned to one of my classmates and said “Man, I feel sorry for the guys who have to take that down.” Turns out…one of those guys is me. Last week I traveled with our exhibition designer, Lynette Martin, to Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, where the Landscape had been on loan since February 2014. Our mission? To successfully take the piece down and pack it in crates, all while documenting the location of each piece so that we can hang Landscape the same way at future venues. Imagine you just completed a 500 piece puzzle. And, now that you’re finished, you have to write instruction as you put it away, so that the next person can put it back together exactly the same way. That is a good way to think about our process. Here’s how we did it: 1. Number each of the pieces using pieces of blue tape and Sharpie.

The forest, complete with blue tape numbers.

The forest, complete with blue tape numbers.

2. Take lots of photographs! We use these photographs to help decipher where each piece of glass goes, along with how to orient it top to bottom. Since all of the pieces are clear, we use a black piece of tagboard to create some contrast between layers.

We used black tag board to make the individual pieces of the fir tree more visible.

We used black tag board to make the individual pieces of the fir tree more visible.

3. Trace the outline of each piece directly onto the floor using a Sharpie. The result was a huge, numbered, template that described which piece goes where and corresponds to the photographs and numbers. We took a large sheet of plastic and traced over the floor, giving us a map that we can use for the next installation.

The base of the fir tree, with rocks numbered and traced on the deck.

The base of the fir tree, with rocks numbered and traced on the deck.

Those three steps got us through all 425 pieces of glass. It took a team of 6 people about 140 hours to take the piece apart, all while surviving near-record temperatures and humidity, along with a close encounter with a tornado. We couldn’t have done it without Andrew, Robin, Steve and Justin – the fabulous crew at Figge Art Museum. Now that it’s all said and done, we’ll organize our notes and be ready to assemble the piece at the next exhibition venue. Until next time Landscape!

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.   

Postcard From Beijing

Museum of Glass curator David Francis, who took a five month leave of absence to join his family in China, has sent us an update on how his stay in Beijing is going. It appears he’s getting a bit homesick.

Postcard front

Postcard back

Docent Trips and Tours

By Carla Bruno, Museum of Glass Docent

As part of their ongoing efforts to learn as much as possible about the world of glass art, Museum of Glass docents often enjoy the privilege of visiting with artists in their working environments. Two such special opportunities occurred recently.

In March, a group traveled to the Ballard district in Seattle to view an exhibit of modern Scandinavian glass at the Nordic Heritage Museum. Then, after lunching together, they met with Dante Marioni at his Fremont studio to talk with him about his work.

Museum of Glass docents with Dante Marioni (center) in his studio

Museum of Glass docents with Dante Marioni (center) in his studio

In April, another similar journey found our museum docents in the Fremont area of Seattle taking a tour of Fremont Antique Glass talking with its founder Jim Flanagan, and watching as cylinders of glass were blown and then turned into flat sheets of gorgeous, multi-hued glass. (Museum of Glass visitors see the work of Fremont Antique Glass, since they made the glass used for Cappy Thompson’s piece Gathering the Light in our Grand Hall.) After another fun lunch together, they then visited glass artist Ginny Ruffner in her Ballard home and studio. Having the opportunity to talk with Ginny and see her home and garden (which are also works of art) is such a special opportunity–one our docents greatly appreciate. “Being able to visit Ginny’s studio for the second time, to see the progression both in her work and the changes within the building (including adding on a garden room where she raises vegetables) was so rewarding,” noted Kathryn Hillig.

With Ginny Ruffner (in front) in her Ballard studio

With Ginny Ruffner (in front) in her Ballard studio

As you plan your next visit to Museum of Glass, please don’t forget a tour of the gallery exhibits with one of our engaging and knowledgeable docents. “Meeting the artists gave us the opportunity to ask questions and better understand their processes,” said Lysa Schloesser. As you can see, they have a wealth of information and experiences to share!