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.


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.


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. 

Hot Shop Intern for the Day

By Alex Carr, Communications Manager

The Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team once again kindly extended the invitation to be a Hot Shop intern for the day to Museum staff – a unique opportunity that I did not want to miss.

I completed a half-day internship in the Hot Shop last year, but was eager to return for a full day this time around. I spend a lot of time on the studio floor taking pictures for the Museum’s social media, so I have the opportunity to watch MOG’s Hot Shop artists up close. Observing them is certainly enough to make anyone admire their skills, but assisting them as a Hot Shop intern gave me a whole new appreciation and respect for their craft, talent, and teamwork.

Shielding gaffer Gabe Feenan.

Thanks to their guidance, and teasing, I walked away at the end of the day having learned a few new things…

  1. Glass is delicate. The lightest touch of a paddle can change the shape of glass – something I did not quite grasp when first told to paddle lightly or paddle hard. I thought I needed to push the paddle as hard as I could against the glass vessel in order to create a flat base. Turns out, you don’t need to push that hard.
  2. Timing is everything. With the help of the full-time, and far more talented, Hot Shop intern, I worked with smaller pieces in the Hot Shop’s garage, transferring them from the garage to the furnace and then finally to the Visiting Artist, who picked them up to attach them to a vessel. There are many moving parts in the Hot Shop, so the timing between putting the vessel back into the glory hole and getting the pieces in the garage ready had to be just right.
  3. Drink water. I know, duh. But when the temperature rises outside (thank you unusually warm Puget Sound spring…) so does the temperature inside the Hot Shop, as if it wasn’t hot enough. I was reminded to drink plenty of water, but by 4 pm, the heat was becoming exhausting.  When people start to ask if you are okay because your face is turning the color of a tomato, that’s a good time to take a little break.
  4. Burned hair smells like corn nuts. It all happened so quickly. One minute I was standing by the bench with the Team’s gaffer, Gabe Feenan, and the next minute flames from his blow torch were going over my arm. Upon realizing I had lost some arm hair, and voicing my alarm, I was met with “doesn’t it smell like corn nuts?”
  5. Amber Cowan is great. Amber Cowan was the Visiting Artist for the week, and she was nothing but friendly and encouraging when I showed up for my day in the Hot Shop. In the back of my mind I was worried that she would be concerned about me assisting, but if she was, she didn’t show it.
My supervisors for the day. From left to right: Amber Cowan, Gabe Feenan, Will Bell, Sarah Gilbert, and Benjamin Cobb.
My supervisors for the day. From left to right: Amber Cowan, Gabe Feenan, Will Bell, Sarah Gilbert, and Benjamin Cobb.

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.


Lino, Lino, Lino!

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

Lino Tagliapietra is in town and Museum of Glass is hopping! Lino actually arrived last week and prepared for his residency by making parts. Lino, Jennifer Elek, Erich Woll, and our own Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team of Benjamin Cobb, Gabe Feenan, and Sarah Gilbert, worked together to pull hundreds of feet of cane, which will be used to create the expressive lines in Lino’s pieces this week.


Then, they picked up bundles of cane and made it into various other canes and murrine. Some of the parts were made into long, narrow bubbles, which were then cut apart into smaller sections.


All of these parts will be recombined over the next two weeks. First thing Wednesday morning, Lino laid out patterns of murrine onto a slab of ceramic kiln shelf.


Murrine is the name for small tiles of glass, often with intricate patterns encased inside. Murrine is made by bundling canes together with wire, and then heating them up again and pulling them into more cane, sometimes with a square profile.


Erich Woll is an expert at making these murrine, and he makes nearly all of the murrine that Lino uses.


Once the murrine has been stretched out long and cooled, it is chopped into smaller sections and laid out on a kiln shelf (like the one in the photo above). The entire set up is then reheated and squeezed together. Jennifer Elek is responsible for blending all of those small parts together into a flat disk, which is then picked up on a clear, glass bubble.


Once the piece gets picked up on a clear collar, it is formed into a round bubble and handed off to Lino to work his magic.

To see what Lino makes, tune into the Museum of Glass live feed from 9 am to 3:30 pm, Wednesday through Sunday during the next two 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. 

How Much Does it Weigh?

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

This is a question I get asked all the time as the Museum of Glass Hot Shop emcee. My stock answer is “I don’t know, I haven’t weighed it.” Well, people want to know! It was time for the Hot Shop Team to figure out a solution!

In the past, the Hot Shop has used a cumbersome hanging scale on a hook. These work great for weighing your latest haul of Coho salmon, but are tricky to use on a constantly-turning blowpipe. More importantly, using a scale of this sort does not give us the weight of the glass; instead, it gives the weight at the fulcrum point. This will double the weight for every foot of distance between the glass and the fulcrum point, giving a distorted reading. We knew there had to be a better way.

Hanging scale

Last week, while working with Visiting Artist Kit Paulson, Hot Shop gaffer Gabe Feenan came up with a great idea. He figured out that if he weighed himself before he was holding the glass, and then while he held the glass, the difference would be the weight of the glass and the blowpipe.


Gabe came in at 160 pounds, which is pretty light for a guy who works out as much as he does. Anyway, we then put him back on the scale holding a big wad of glass that he would be stuffing into a cup made of cane. Kit asked the Team to “go big,” so there would not be much time to wait for the hot glass to settle down. Watch the needle of the scale bounce around while Gabe stuffs the cup!

As you can see, after Gabe stopped bouncing, the scale read at 203# (203 pounds). If we subtract the weight of Gabe and the pipe, that leaves 36 pounds of moving liquid to wrangle around. You can try this at home with a wild wolverine on the end of a broom handle to approximate the feeling (on second thought, don’t try this at home).

Tune in next time to see more fun facts from the Hot Shop!

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. 

Gabe Feenan: Home Shop Advantage

By Serena Berry, Audio/Visual Department

Often found dancing around the Hotshop while wailing along to ‘80s power ballads a member of our glassblowing team, Gabe Feenan, was last week’s Visiting Artist. The self-proclaimed jokester shifted focus during the week from creating pieces for the MOG’s wide breadth of artists to creating his own work.

1According to Feenan, he happened upon glass art as a profession, but after 18 years it’s plain to see that he hasn’t taken his passion for granted. As a member for our team for the last 12 years, Feenan’s had a hand in creating pieces with world-class glassblowers such as Dante Marioni and Lino Tagliapietra. He’s a guy that likes to work hard while always continuing to be a student of his craft.


As a continuation of his previous body of work, Center of Gravity, Feenan created modern compositions comprised of blown cane and tightly assembled geometric shapes. His previous work in this series consisted of mostly blown forms colored in earth tones, inspired by the Pacific Northwest; however this week he’s going to experiment with adding more solid forms and new colors, “I’m going to work with a little bit different palate than I’ve worked with in a long time. I’m going to try to brighten it up a little bit,” said Feenan.

4 3

The parts of these sculptures were formed simultaneously using three different teams, then assembled item-by-item by Feenan in a delicate process. The work involved in creating these pieces was misleading, in relation to their design, because although they seemed simplistic in nature once finished they took about three hours to complete on the floor. 5

Feenan felt fortunate to be working with his co-workers and friends to complete these pieces. The blowers who assisted him during the week have a combined glass working knowledge of close to 100 years. Three of whom blow glass with Feenan five days a week and operate more as a family; we saw some great work out of Gabe Feenan and his team this week. To see more sculptures from Center of Gravity Feenan currently displays his work at the Vetri International Gallery in Seattle, WA.