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.
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.”
By Bonnie Wright, Curator of Education and Community Engagement
It’s that time of year—Bird Lovers’ Weekend is upon us! We welcome Finnish master glassblowers Arto Lahtinen and Helena Welling back to the Museum of Glass (MOG) Hot Shop to create glass birds designed by Professor Oiva Toikka all weekend long!
A few surprises are in store this year. Read on for daily details of what to expect:
Thursday, October 1
4 – 6 pm: Design your own bird! Pick your own colors and details, and Arto Lahtinen and Helena Welling will do all of the work! $450 Members/$500 General.
Friday, October 2
10 am – 5 pm: Be a bird designer! Submit your bird designs all day Friday and Saturday. Two winning drawings (by one child and one adult) will be selected on Sunday by Lahtinen and Welling to be created in glass for the winners to take home.
12 – 3 pm: Adriana Hess Audubon Center/Tacoma Nature Center will be here with a Fold the Flock origami activity.
Saturday, October 3
10 am – 5 pm: Be a bird designer! Submit your drawings in time for selection on Sunday.
10 am – 5 pm: Long-time Bird Lovers’ Weekend fan and new glassblowing student, Vienna Scheyer, will be an intern for the day in the Hot Shop alongside her idol, Arto Lahtinen!
10 am – 5 pm: The first flock of birds made on Friday by Lahtinen and Welling will be available in the MOG Store!
11 am – 3 pm: Seattle Seahawks live mascot, Taima the augur hawk, will be in the Grand Hall! Send some positive vibes with her before the Seahawks game against the Detroit Lions on Monday!
1 – 4 pm: Create your own wire bird sculpture and paint a bird feeder with artist Larry Calkins.
Sunday, October 4
11 am – 1 pm: Enjoy the members’ brunch and have your bird(s) signed by the artists at 11:30 am.
12 – 1 pm: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium will have bird ambassadors on hand. Come meet them in the Grand Hall!
12 – 5 pm: The second flock of birds made on Saturday will be available for sale in the MOG Store.
12 – 5 pm: It’s your second chance to design your own bird. YOU choose the details! $450 Members/$500 General.
12 – 5 pm: Lahtinen and Welling will select the winners from the bird designer pool of drawings and create the winning designs—one for a child and one for an adult!
2 – 3 pm: Find out how Iittala bird collectors got started, what fuels their passion, and how you can get started on your own collection during the collector question and answer session!
Ongoing, throughout the weekend
Birds by Toikka will be on display in the Grand Hall.
The 2015 Museum of Glass annual bird, the Steller’s Jay, will be available for sale in the Museum Store!
Don’t miss out on all the new happenings this year—there’s something for everyone! I’ll see you there!
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.