Five Minutes with Bryan Kekst Brown

Bryan Kekst Brown is the Visiting Artist at Museum of Glass this week. Brown comes to the Hot Shop through the Museum’s Visiting Artist Residency application program, which invites artists from all over the world to apply.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Kekst Brown.
Photo courtesy of Bryan Kekst Brown.

Catch up with Brown before his residency begins!

My favorite medium to work with is…

Metal, for quite some time. Even more so as I have been exploring its malleability and the variety of metals that can be worked with. The difference between these various materials and their inherent properties fascinates me. Recently, since I have had access to a torch for working with borosilicate glass, I have really enjoyed  how tactile the medium is. I have read about the physical properties of glass but understanding those properties through your hands is a different experience.

The body of work I will be developing during my residency is…

Some of my recent work and taking it to a different level, in regards to scale. The work will also be slightly different in process or media, such as blowing into 3D printed cages without an exterior mold, documenting the electro-forming process as a video, and working with different physical processes to create an abstract definition of time.

I am most inspired by…

The phenomena that we experience as the physical world and how it operates based on a set of information.

I incorporate 3D-printed structures into my work by…

Designing 3D-printed cages to blow glass into. In the past I have used a plaster printer to print the actual blow mold. The cages fit into the blow mold and the glass takes the form of the mold as well as becoming stuck in the cage. The cages for this residency are designed with multiple layers to manipulate the way that the glass flows through.

In my spare time I…

Am currently trying to learn how to work with borosilicate glass. I try to get out into nature when I can as well, going on hikes or backpacking trips.

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Bryan Kekst Brown working in the Hot Shop from August 24 through 28, or watch his residency online.

Lino Boats – A Rare Treat

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

Muranese Maestro Vetario (glass master) Lino Tagliapietra returns to the Museum of Glass Hot Shop this week with a very special project: boats. For those of you that are familiar with the way Lino usually works in our Hot Shop—jumping from piece to piece, series to series, taking time to craft small sake glasses or bowls along the way—watching the boats, from his Endeavor series, being made may seem quite different.

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Russell Johnson Photographer, Lino Tagliapietra Inc.
Russell Johnson Photographer, Lino Tagliapietra Inc.
Russell Johnson Photographer, Lino Tagliapietra Inc.

Lino is an incredibly hard worker. He is always the last one to leave the floor for lunch, sometimes skipping the meal all together and subsisting on a few slices of fruit, and maybe a few slices of Mortadella. Or, on the other extreme, he may decide to stop blowing and cook lunch for his entire team, which happened last year when he cooked a huge and delicious paella for the entire Hot Shop Team. It was magnifico!

Lino Cooking

Beyond the accumulated knowledge of the chef, paella is dependent on succulent, fresh seafood to be successful. This is where the boats come in. Lino’s home is in Murano, Italy, which is an island off the coast of Venice in the Venetian Lagoon. While the central islands that make up the heart of historical Venice are connected to mainland Italy by a rail and auto causeway, life in Murano can best be described by its relationship to the sea, and to glass.


Lino has said that his Dinosaur series was partially inspired by the marine life of canals and lagoon, which is readily apparent in the massive yet gracefully balanced forms. His boats are a more literal translation, but not necessarily of the familiar Venetian gondolas that you might imagine. Lino spoke with curator Annegreth Nill about the Endeavor series in The Art of Lino Tagliapietra: Concerto in Glass at Columbus Museum of Art in 2003.

“I had the idea to do boats for many years. I seriously started making them in 1995. The shape is very organic. I especially liked the boats designed by the Vikings. I also like many things about the canoe, not the canoe of the native North Americans, but of the people of the Amazon. (Such as Jeff Bezos, ed.) It has a very simple shape and a very long point.”

Russell Johnson Photographer, Lino Tagliapietra Inc.
Russell Johnson Photographer, Lino Tagliapietra Inc.

If you have never had the opportunity to see Lino creating boats from the Endeavor series, come down to Museum of Glass this weekend, July 30-31. The Museum will be open at 9 am on Saturday for members and 10 am for the general public. The Museum will open to everyone at 9 am on Sunday.

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. 

Five Minutes with Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen

Visiting Artist Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen has often been inspired by the natural world, finding her creative spark through traveling, observing animals, and exploring the outdoors.

MOG caught up with the Visiting Artist ahead of her residency to ask a few questions about the inspiration behind her work and what she is looking forward to this week.

Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen working; Photo by Russell Johnson.
Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen working; Photo by Russell Johnson.

My favorite memory of exploring the outdoors is…

Well, any animal interaction puts me in “awe.” One event that stands out..My friend and I thought it would be great to take a mountain hike in April. After hours of pushing through the snow, we gave up the idea of making it to the top, so instead we climbed a boulder to catch some sun. While we were sitting there overlooking a snow covered meadow, a family of wolverines, two adults and two youngsters, came out and took turns sliding down the slope! Unforgettable and truly amazing!

I am inspired most by…

Besides kindness? And people who treat other people with dignity? And folks who stand up against hate? Other than that, natural history, rocks, plants, and animals. I can’t get over the glory of the natural works.

Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen; Peacock, 2015; Blown glass and steel; 26 x 35 x 16 inches; Photo by KP Studio.
Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen; Peacock, 2015; Blown glass and steel; 26 x 35 x 16 inches; Photo by KP Studio.

Collaborating with other artists has taught me…

To stay open. Be a sponge and soak up as much as I can.

If I could give my younger self one piece of advice about working with glass, it would be…

We all have our own path, trust in it. Live for your spirit. It is the only true wealth. Love life and live passionately.

During my residency, I am most looking forward to…

Sharing a vision, working with great people, a watching audience, a great shop, creating what I am passionate about!! HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY HAPPY JOY HAPPY JOY JOY JOY!

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen working from July 13 through 17, or watch her residency online.

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.