Tag Archives: Art Therapy

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.”

Mortal Combat

By Derek Klein, Audio/Visual Producer 

On Tuesday, September 29, Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire instructor, Patricia Davidson, and program participant, Army Sergeant First Class (SFC) Peter Bazo from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), joined forces to install the new exhibition, Healing in Flames, which is currently on display in the Grand Hall at Museum of Glass. All of the pieces were designed and crafted by soldiers participating in the Hot Shop Heroes program.

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One of the class’ collaborative pieces included in the exhibition, entitled Mortal Combat, features a glass scorpion and camel spider preparing to fight in the desert sand. The piece was inspired by a game often played by deployed soldiers as a way to pass time. The game involves placing a scorpion and a camel spider in a pit—dug by soldiers—where they would engage in a fight to the death.

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While installing Mortal Combat, SFC Bazo realized something was not quite right with the desert sand. He explained that there is a common misconception about the cleanliness of the desert. Contrary to popular belief, the desert is not a clean place, explained SFC Bazo. In fact, it is just the opposite.

As a last minute decision, Bazo suggested a plan: “Why don’t we add random filth to this scene? Here, I have some cigarette butts and spent shell casings to begin.” In the end, Mortal Combat shows the desert in its true form, including cigarette butts, water bottle caps, spent shell casings, and other forms of trash you might see in a war-torn desert.

Healing in Flames features several pieces conceptualized and created by the soldiers themselves, under the watchful eyes of instructors Patricia Davidson and Greg Owen, who are both well-established artists in the Pacific Northwest. All pieces were inspired by the soldiers’ experiences while on tours of duty. The exhibition also features a short documentary film created by the soldiers, which highlights their experiences within the Hot Shop Heroes program.

The soldiers were quite pleased with the accuracy achieved by the exhibition installation crew at Museum of Glass in creating a representation of the T Wall, a large concrete wall reinforced with rebar used for blast protection purposes in war zones. This T Wall replica displays some of the exhibition’s works of art.

Healing in Flames is on display at Museum of Glass through March 2016.

Derek Klein is a documentary film maker and has been covering the Pacific Northwest and international glass scenes with Museum of Glass for the past seven years.