Tag Archives: Hot Shop

Making Treasure-trove

By Katie Phelps, Curatorial Assistant and Visiting Artist Coordinator

Our upcoming exhibition Into the Deep takes a look at glass artists who are inspired by the ocean. Glass is an incredible medium, and it allows artists to capture the effects of being underwater better than any other artistic medium.

Last November, artists Kelly O’Dell and Raven Skyriver collaborated on a series of barnacle-encrusted shells, which will be featured in the exhibition, in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop. The complex process is a great example how versatile the medium of glass can be.

The stripes on the clamshell begin as flattened pieces of cane (colored glass) which are heated until they are hot enough to stick together. Here, Nick Davis, MOG’s Hot Shop Tech, is squeezing the hot pieces of cane together so they form a flat panel.

The stripes on the clamshell begin as flattened pieces of cane (colored glass) which are heated until they are hot enough to stick together. Here, Nick Davis, MOG’s Hot Shop Tech, is squeezing the hot pieces of cane together so they form a flat panel.

Next, artist Raven Skyriver picks up the stripes of cane using a piece of hot, clear glass shaped like a plunger. The hot clear glass sticks to the flat panel of cane, and forms a half dome shape. The clear appendage will be used to shape the flat stripes of color into a bubble.

Next, artist Raven Skyriver picks up the stripes of cane using a piece of hot, clear glass shaped like a plunger. The hot clear glass sticks to the flat panel of cane, and forms a half dome shape. The clear appendage will be used to shape the flat stripes of color into a bubble.

After the flattened cane is picked up onto the plunger, Skyriver uses a pair of shears to trim away the excess glass along the edge of the circle created by the plunger, sealing it into a clear glass dome with a colorful, striped base.

After the flattened cane is picked up onto the plunger, Skyriver uses a pair of shears to trim away the excess glass along the edge of the circle created by the plunger, sealing it into a clear glass dome with a colorful, striped base.

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The newly-formed dome is heated in the glory hole, and then rolled across a steel table called a marver to create a smooth bubble that is half clear glass, and half colored cane stripes.

The newly-formed dome is heated in the glory hole, and then rolled across a steel table, called a marver,  to create a smooth bubble that is half clear glass, and half colored cane stripes.

In order to start making the clam shape, the colored stripes need to be removed from their clear glass holder. The stripe canes are pinched inward to form their own bubble, and then connected to another blowpipe, so that they can be separated from the clear glass, and blown into a clamshell shape.

In order to start making the clam shape, the colored stripes need to be removed from their clear glass holder. The stripe canes are pinched inward to form their own bubble, and then connected to another blowpipe, so that they can be separated from the clear glass, and blown into a clamshell shape.

Tah-dah! After about 45 minutes of adding more clear molten glass, inflating the bubble by breathing into the blowpipe, and carefully sculpting the shape with tools, the bubble is beginning to look more like a clamshell. You can see the stripes from the cane, which have stretched and curved as the glass has been shaped.

Tah-dah! After about 45 minutes of adding more clear molten glass, inflating the bubble by exhaling into the blowpipe, and carefully sculpting the shape with tools, the bubble is beginning to look more like a clamshell. You can see the stripes from the cane, which have stretched and curved as the glass has been shaped.

Hot Shop Team member Sarah Gilbert transfers the piece from the bench, where the artists are working, to the gloryhole for it to be heated back up to above 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to keep the glass from cooling too quickly and cracking.

Hot Shop Team member Sarah Gilbert transfers the piece from the bench, where the artists are working, to the gloryhole for it to be heated back up to above 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to keep the glass from cooling too quickly and cracking.

After the artists are satisfied with the shape of the clamshell, it is time to attach the barnacles. These fabulous acorn barnacles are also made of glass. They were created ahead of time by Kelly O’Dell, and in then placed in a furnace in the Hot Shop called the garage – named because pieces are heated to 900 degrees and “parked” at that temperature until they are ready to be used.

After the artists are satisfied with the shape of the clamshell, it is time to attach the barnacles. These fabulous acorn barnacles are also made of glass. They were created ahead of time by Kelly O’Dell, and in then placed in a furnace in the Hot Shop calls the garage – named because pieces are heated to 900 degrees and “parked” at that temperature until they are ready to be used.

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Just before the barnacles are placed on the clamshell, they are loaded onto a pastorale (a flat, metal tray) and heated in the gloryhole to make them the same temperature as the shell.

Kelly O’Dell attaches a heated barnacle to the clamshell using a pair of tweezers. A torch is being used to keep the rest of the glass at the same temperature. Kelly also has a torch which she is using to heat the bottom of the barnacle so the hot glass can stick to the surface of the clamshell.

Kelly O’Dell attaches a heated barnacle to the clamshell using a pair of tweezers. A torch is being used to keep the rest of the glass at the same temperature. Kelly also has a torch which she is using to heat the bottom of the barnacle so the hot glass can stick to the surface of the clamshell.

After the barnacles are applied the whole piece is heated back up in the gloryhole.

After the barnacles are applied, the whole piece is heated back up in the gloryhole.

Now that all of the barnacles have been placed on the shell, the piece is complete. Water is dripped onto the end of the piece, which causes a crack to form where the piece meets the punty (the metal rod it is connected to) and allows the piece to be broken off of the pipe.

Now that all of the barnacles have been placed on the shell, the piece is complete. Water is dripped onto the end of the piece, which causes a crack to form where the piece meets the punty (the metal rod it is connected to) and allows the piece to be broken off of the pipe.

Success! The finished piece is rushed to an annealer, so that it can be cooled slowly overnight to room temperature.

Success! The finished piece is rushed to an annealer, so that it can be cooled slowly overnight to room temperature.

Kelly O’Dell (American, born 1973) and Raven Skyriver (American, born 1982); Treasure-trove, 2016; Blown and sculpted glass; 12 x 16 x 13 inches (30.5 x 40.6 x 33 cm); Courtesy of the artists; Photo by Kp Studios.

After the piece is completely cooled, it is coldworked to add texture to the surface of the shell, and a mount is made. Photo credit: Kelly O’Dell (American, born 1973) and Raven Skyriver (American, born 1982); Treasure-trove, 2016; Blown and sculpted glass; 12 x 16 x 13 inches (30.5 x 40.6 x 33 cm); Courtesy of the artists; Photo by Kp Studios.

The finished piece, Treasure-trove, will be one of the many ocean-inspired pieces featured in Into the Deep. The exhibition opens September 24, 2016. Come check it out!

Thanks to Alex Grümmer for the awesome Hot Shop photos!

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.   

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.

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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.

 

Five Minutes with Preston Singletary

Preston Singletary will be working in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop from May 11 to 15. Museum of Glass caught up with the Visiting Artist before his residency to talk a little about glass, family, and music.

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I started working in glass when…

I got a job at Glass Eye Studio in 1982. I started as a “night watchman” filling the furnaces up and sweeping the floor. I started on the production floor four months later and made Christmas balls and paperweights.

The most rewarding aspect of my career is…

When I figured out how to connect my glass making to my Tlingit Alaskan Native heritage. It opened up many new perspectives and connected me to my roots.

Preston Singletary E-News April 2016

When I’m not in the studio…

I’m busy being a father and raising my two youngest kids. I also moonlight as a musician. I have been recording two different projects which connect to Tlingit culture in a contemporary way, the same way my glass does.

The last place I traveled to was…

Alaska to work on a piece I had installed last spring.

The best part about living in the Pacific Northwest is…

The community of artists and musicians. It’s a beautiful place that I’ve never found a reason to leave!

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Preston Singletary working or watch his residency online.

Memories from the Other Side of the Desk

By Max Fosberg, Visitor Services Manager

As my time comes to a close at Museum of Glass (only two more days, but who’s counting?), I have been taking some time to reflect on the past two years here working in the visitor services department. The journey has been exactly that, a journey with peaks and valleys.

But who wants to talk about valleys, low points, the dark ages?

Yeah, neither do I! So I made a list. Yes, the plain old top-something list. These are the top three moments for me working here at Museum of Glass. Ready? Set? GO!!

Moment 3: 2016 Slider Cook-Off

Once I leave the Museum, I plan on every once in a while coming back to check out a new exhibition, see one of my favorite artists in the Hot Shop, or just to simply say hello to old co-workers. However, there will be a day in March every year that you can count on me being at the Museum, and that will be the day of the annual Slider Cook-Off, which has to be one of the coolest, most exciting events in town.

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Slider Cook-Off participant WildFin won the 2016 Grand Prize with their slider.

This past March, Slider took a turn for the best. The burgers were out of this world, The Dusty 45s rocked the Grand Hall, artist John Miller was at the top of his game, and there was fun stuff to do at the event, like get an up-do hairstyle or see how many friends you can get in one picture at the free photo booth. I was working the event, but still had a better time than most events I have attended. As the guest that I will be next year, I’m so excited for this event that I’m considering buying VIP tickets! If you have never checked out Slider Cook-Off, and you like burgers, beer, and rock ‘n’ roll, you need to get a ticket!

Moment 2: Discovering and Meeting Lino Tagliapietra

Lino Tagliapietra, the Maestro of glassblowing. He is the greatest, and to this day, in his 80s, he is still the man on the floor shaping the glass, blowing the glass, and swinging the glass over his head.

Photo by Russell Johnson.

Lino Tagliapietra in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop; Photo by Russell Johnson.

I have had the privilege of watching Lino multiple times over the past two years, and he blows me away every time he steps onto the Hot Shop floor. I have also talked with him personally and helped him here at the Museum, and from that experience I am happy to report that he is incredibly humble and views glassblowing as “just my job.” He is a special, special person and has given so much to the glass art form for over 70 years – he started blowing glass when he was 11! That alone blows my mind and demands respect. Long live the king of glass and I hope I get to watch him for many more years to come.

Moment 1: John Kiley and Lino Tagliapietra in the Hot Shop

When I joined the Museum two years ago, I had no knowledge of glass art. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to really examine and create an opinion about glass art. I am not an expert to say the least, however, I do know what I like and what I don’t like. Two of my favorite artists came together in the Hot Shop this past February, and I have to admit I “geeked” out over these two.

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Maestro Lino Tagliapietra (left) and Erich Woll (right) assist Visiting Artist John Kiley (center).

First, John Kiley. The spherical forms he makes, with chunks missing and two different color tones, really stand out to me as something from the future. And what can you pair with an emerging star? How about a living legend, the Maestro himself, Lino Tagliapietra. At a mere 81 years young, Lino is the Michael Jordan of glassblowing. He continues to create work year after year and does it with class and veteran savviness (I wrote about him in Moment 2, I know, cop out). This truly was a special week to be at the Museum, to see these two working together.

Well there it is, everyone. The list.

Honestly, the best thing about MOG is the people who work here. There is a wonderful team of passionate and creative people who make sure that this icon of Tacoma continues to educate the public about glass art. As someone who started working at the Museum with little knowledge of glass art, I feel pretty lucky to have had a two-year course in glass from some of the best people in the northwest. I urge you to keep coming down to MOG, and bring everyone you know!

I want to thank everyone who I have had the pleasure of working with and I hope to keep in contact with this group for years to come. Thank you MOG.

Shelley Muzylowski Allen on Nature, Glass, and Gender

By Hillary Ryan, Director of Marketing and Communications

Nestled in the North Cascades, Shelley Muzylowski Allen welcomed us to her home and studio, earlier this year, to learn more about her and her work. She shared with us a story about the deer that visit her cherry tree and showed us her amazing collection of rocks, many of which find their way into her sculpture. With her relaxed manner and warm smile, it’s easy to see how her personality is reflected in her approachable and beautiful creations. We look forward to welcoming her back to the Hot Shop this April.

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Horses seem to be the focus of your current work. What is your connection to horses?

Horses have been a recurring form in my work since my early paintings and drawings in childhood. I felt very connected to their form and more importantly, our relationship with them and what they have meant to us and our civilization throughout history.

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About 10 years ago, my father gave credence to this relationship when he told me that he had found evidence that our eastern European family name traced back to early cavalry who roamed the Eurasian Steppes on horseback and were among the early domesticators of horses.

Although many members of my family raised horses, I was never as interested in riding them as I was in drawing or painting them. My feeling of connection to them always made me a little uneasy and I have tried to venture away from rendering their form many times.

Since your last residency at Museum of Glass, what have you been up to?

During my last residency at MOG in 2009, I created a new body of work that I titled the Netsuke Pots—a series that would give reverence to commonplace creatures and would be created devoid of color. This body of work opened up new avenues in my creative thought and allowed me to concentrate on different forms of flora and fauna and gesture and incorporate more narrative in the pieces.

I’ve since been developing these ideas, capturing a moment in time, or timelessness, creating tension in the pieces and exhibiting my work as much as I physically can. I’ve been collecting large rocks and using them to dynamically support the glass form and become part of the visual field. The texture and colors of both rock and glass contrast and complement each other—adding to the visual tension and the composition and feeling evoked being very similar to a scene painted in oils.

In 2012, I was invited to Murano to continue making a body of work with Davide Salvadore that we had started at Pilchuck. I had been intrigued and mystified by the horse-headed violins of Mongolia. We explored that concept and created 12 animal-headed instruments. In 2016, we are planning to make another collaborative body of work.

When I’m not in the hot shop…

I discovered aerial yoga and practice this weekly. Doing inversions and hanging from the silks can decompress and balance my spine after standing on concrete and working asymmetrically in the hot shop. Rik and I also like to get outdoors and hike or go to the San Juan islands on our little Boston Whaler. On these trips I’ve often found the rocks that I use in my work.

What precipitates a collaboration with your husband and fellow artist Rik Allen? How do you plan and work together to execute your collaborative pieces?

Although we don’t work in the hot shop together as frequently as we used to, Rik and I collaborate in many ways in our life together. It often comes in the form of dialogue as we discuss each other’s respective work and offer our insights or ideas to each other. We rely on each other’s strengths and find balance in doing this. Rik and I have taught many workshops and really enjoy teaching together. Our demonstrations are often collaborations made in the hot shop to illustrate effective communication and teamwork as part of our teaching curriculum. We spend time talking about the theme and drawing it until we are both satisfied with the idea and design.

What do you think are the challenges for women working in glass?

Working with glass, especially hot glass requires extreme focus, stamina and perseverance. You have to be willing to work extremely hard and work because you love the medium and not because you have certain expectations of the end result. The learning curve is steep which may deter a number of people of both genders.

The glass world largely in the past was male dominated. I’ve heard from a few women that this held them back from pursuing a career with hot glass. I don’t believe that this is the current situation in this country. The opportunities are out there for both men and women. Men generally have a stronger physical build so in some specific cases that may be the reason for their hiring. Staying healthy and in good physical shape can help for both genders in working with this medium. When I went to Murano, many of the maestros had never seen a woman working at her own bench before.  I was nervous about what their reaction might be but I was treated very well and with respect for my physical space and my work.

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Shelley Muzylowski Allen will be the Visiting Artist in the MOG Hot Shop from April 6 – 10, 2016 through Fuel Their Fire IV. Learn more about her work at muzylowski.com.