Tag Archives: Tacoma

Five Minutes with Amber Cowan

Amber Cowan will be working in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop from May 4 through 8. MOG’s Visiting Artist is currently a faculty member of the glass department at Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania and her work is represented by Heller Gallery in New York. Cowan is known for searching flea markets and thrift shops for discarded objects such as teacups, plates, and dishes and transforming these discarded items into decorative sculptures ornamented with of swans, lambs, roses, leaves, and floral layers.


Photo courtesy of Amber Cowan.

MOG caught up with Amber before her residency to talk art, flea markets, and pastries.

I started collecting objects at flea markets, in thrift stores, and on eBay when…

I was in graduate school, from 2009 to 2011. I began working with old glass when I found a barrel of old factory cullet at Tyler. This barrel was from an old run of easter candy dishes. Since people have started learning about my work, I now get packages from people all over the country. Sometimes people I have never met send me old glass that they don’t want to keep, but feel sad about throwing it out. They know that I will give it a new history.

Amber Cowan; Bottle Bowl, 2012; Flameworked and fused recycled wine bottles; 15 x 15 x 2 inches; Photo courtesy of the artist.

Amber Cowan; Bottle Bowl, 2012; Flameworked and fused recycled wine bottles; 15 x 15 x 2 inches; Photo courtesy of the artist.

I source most of my glass from…

An old cullet yard in West Virginia. But, I am also always looking for new places to get old glass at good prices. I just discovered an amazing store in Richmond, Virginia, that was the biggest vintage glass and ceramic store that I had ever seen.

If I wasn’t working in glass, I would…

Probably be a pastry chef.

The last time I was on the west coast was…

When I was visiting a friend in LA and then drove out to Joshua Tree. The last time I was in Washington state was last August, when a friend and I drove from San Diego to Seattle and then I taught at Pratt for the week.

During my residency I hope to…

Get inspired about new directions I can take my work. I have created a special press mold for my residency based of an old vintage milk glass hand. I had the old piece 3-D scanned and another faculty member at Tyler milled the graphite for me to create the mold. I can now reproduce this vintage piece very easily. I am excited to see where this process can take me when it is combined with the skilled glassblowers at Museum of Glass.

Plan a visit to Museum of Glass to see Visiting Artist Amber Cowan working, or tune into her residency online.

Treat Your Mom to (Paper) Flowers

By Bonnie Wright, Curator of Education and Community Engagement

Taking inspiration from the Botanicals of the Museum of Glass exhibition Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace: Every Soil Bears Not Everything, join us for an afternoon of paper flower making on Saturday, May 7! It’s a fun and gratifying craft, and from such simple materials – just paper, tape, and wire – you can create the most beautiful blooms.

Every Soil 2 sml

Joey Kirkpatrick (American, born 1952) and Flora C. Mace (American, born 1949); Field Daffodils, 2015; Flower, composite, glass, paint, and steel; 26 1/2 x 22 x 8 inches; Photo courtesy of the artists.

I’ll be at the workshop, so I hope to meet you! I’m looking forward to making some paper bouquets for both me AND my mom in Pennsylvania. Let’s hope the flowers survive the plane ride!

During the session, you’ll learn how to create several styles of crepe paper flowers and foliages using traditional crepe, duplex (double-sided) crepe, and European crepe paper. You’ll leave with some knowledge and a lovely paper bouquet in hand!


Photo courtesy of Laurie Cinotto.


Photo courtesy of Laurie Cinotto.

Laurie Cinotto, who will lead the workshop, is a local crafter and DIY project designer. She crafts all sorts of things out of paper, like birdcages, notebooks, lanterns, and ornaments, but her area of expertise is paper flower making. You can find out about all the things she makes on her craft blog, LaLaLaurie.com.

Laurie and her husband share their lives with two permanent resident cats and a steady stream of foster kittens. She chronicles the lives of the felines on TheIttyBittyKittyCommittee.com, which many Tacoma locals will be familiar with! In 2014, she published The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee book. Unfortunately, cats aren’t allowed at the Museum’s flower workshop…


Photo courtesy of Laurie Cinotto.

Laurie’s paper flower making workshop is a great hands-on activity to do with your mom ahead of Mother’s Day or to create a surprise bouquet for your mother on May 8!

Workshop details, including time and cost, are available on the Museum’s calendar. Hope to see you on May 7!

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.

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.


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.


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.

Seattleite Goes South for the Spring

Seattleite recently paid a visit to Tacoma to discover what the City of Destiny has to offer residents of its neighbor to the north.


“Compared to Seattle (especially these days), the pace there feels significantly slower, the streets emptier, the buildings lower,” shares Corinne Whiting, Seattleite contributor.  “Seattleites might not think of Tacoma for a nearby adventure, but traveling just 45 minutes (traffic depending) can prove a refreshing respite from the routine and familiarity of home.”

Whiting took time to explore Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum, Harmon Brewing Co., and Hotel Murano for a well-rounded arts and craft brew South Sound experience.

For more about Seattleite‘s weekend wanderings in Tacoma, click here.

Connections through Art and Home – Made at the Museum: Native American Artists

By Beth Luce, Communications Manager at Pierce County Library System

One of the great events planned for Pierce County READS 2016 happens at Museum of Glass (MOG) on Thursday, March 17. It’s called Made at the Museum: Native American Artists.

It’s an interesting blend of pieces created by Native American resident glass artists over the past decade and the written art of Sherman Alexie.

The special display will include artist Corwin Clairmont’s piece, Traditional Cedar Bark Berry Basket.

Corwin N. Clairmont (Member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indian Tribes, born 1946); Traditional Cedar Bark Berry Basket, 2009; Blown and hot-sculpted glass; Dimensions vary; Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist.

Corwin N. Clairmont (Member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indian Tribes, born 1946); Traditional Cedar Bark Berry Basket, 2009; Blown and hot-sculpted glass; Dimensions vary; Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist. Photo by Duncan Price.

Here’s something he wrote about it: “The cedar basket is a reminder of the place we live, and a direct connection with our ancestors and the important lessons embedded in this wonderful form.

“Creating the cedar basket in glass is also a reminder of the fragileness of many things that the natural world provides, enabling the human being to survive. We need to be respectful of each other and that which makes up the natural world we live in. All is connected and a part of the great circle.”

We asked Clairmont a discussion question, inspired by Alexie’s best-known and most controversial book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Part-Time Indian

Can you have the same relationship with your home when you’ve moved beyond it?

Clairmont answered (in part) this way:  “Not sure if you can ever completely move beyond home as we are tied to the land/place, family, friends and tribal community.

“Leaving home can give you new and exciting experiences and provides insight and a variety of perspectives not found at home. It invites adventure and limitless growth potential.”

I’m looking forward to exploring what connects these two people and the other glass artists represented, including Preston Singletary, Raven Skyriver, Marvin Oliver and Joe Fedderson.

Preston Singletary (American Tlingit, born 1963); Killer Whale, 2009; Blown and sandcarved glass; 25 x 16 x 7 inches; Made at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist.

Preston Singletary (American Tlingit, born 1963); Killer Whale, 2009; Blown and sandcarved glass; 25 x 16 x 7 inches; Made at Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of the artist. Photo by Russell Johnson.

The Made at the Museum: Native American Artists and Pierce County READS book presentation takes place on Third Thursday, March 17, from 6 to 8 pm. Admission to Museum of Glass is free.

Find out more about Sherman Alexie and Pierce County READS 2016.

Beth Luce works at telling the story of Pierce County Library System, which has 20 locations throughout the county.