Introducing Our Newest Arrival: Miles Lark

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Miles Lark has hit the ground running – his first days were spent installing the DC Green Gateway Arch.

Join all of us at the Washington Glass Studio as we welcome our new studio intern: Miles Lark.

Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Miles is a painter and sculptor and has worked extensively in glass at Penland School of Crafts, Pilchuck Glass School and at glass sculpture workshops at the Toledo Museum of Art. He has worked/studied under glass notables such as Lino Tagliapietra, Paul & Dante Marioni, Fritz Dreisbach, Matt Szsoz, Bandhu Durham and Cappy Thompson.  

Miles Lark's sculpture at TRAC River Gallery (North Carolina) show in 2014.

Miles Lark’s sculpture at TRAC River Gallery (North Carolina) show in 2014.

Miles works with many different media, and while he is in the Washington Glass School, he is looking to explore the integration of steel and glass in his work.  

The next time you are at the Washington Glass School – make sure you say Hi to Miles! 

Washington Glass School Says Farewell to Nancy Donnelly

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Artist Nancy Donnelly had many facets – sculptor, painter, bookkeeper, welder, printmaker; she is a Renaissance woman.

The Glass School says “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good-bye” to one of our own – glass artist Nancy Donnelly – as she leaves DC for an extended holiday in Europe and then moves to the “other” Washington.

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Nancy Donnelly gives a “bench blow” for her roll-up glass as she assists Michael Showalter at DC Glass Works.

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Nancy Donnelly “Green Eggs & Ham”, Fused and blown glass.

Nancy has been working from the studio since 2007. Originally a painter, Nancy embraced all aspects of glass  - blown, fused, cast; she sought out ever more directions in the medium. As she expanded her technical repertoire, she became a true mixed media sculptor. Her shows at galleries throughout the Washington, DC area began to be covered by the Washington Post art critic Mark Jenkins. In his review of Nancy’s recent “Transmission” show at Rockville, MD’s Common Ground Gallery, he said that her “striking sculptures” were “metaphors for creation and liberation, making them pertinent not just to one artist who has found her medium“.

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Nancy Donnelly made the aprons for the cold shop – and everyone at the Glass School became Fashion-Forward models

Nancy also worked in the studio as the bookkeeper and organized many aspects of the school, including the course schedules and flyers. She kept the many studio resident artists in line and looked out for the welfare of all.

As Nancy transitions into the next version of uber-artist and world traveler, all of us at the Glass School will miss her terribly! Come back often to visit!

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Nancy Donnelly talks about her glass artwork with WGS’ Tim Tate.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu - Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu

The Process: Public Art and Placemaking

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DC Ward 7 Green Community Arch sculpture located at the new Unity Healthcare Building.

One of the Washington Glass Studio’s most ambitious public art projects has just completed installation. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities commissioned the sculpture for the new Unity Healthcare facility in Washington, DC, and the glass-and-steel artwork was installed without a problem this week.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

Michael Janis bolts the panels to the top of the public art sculpture before the work is hoisted into place.

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Concept design for the Green Community Gateway Arch

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The public artwork concept was designed and engineered to a high level.

The design of the public artwork was intended to mark the symbolic entrance to the Kenilworth / Parkside section of DC’s Ward 7. This area (near Caeser Chavez charter school, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and the Anacostia Freeway) was recently identified as a DC Promise neighborhood – and its experiencing a renewed investment in neighborhood revitalization. After meeting with community representatives, the WGS team focused on themes that were strongly held. A “Community Gateway Arch” became the vision for the placemaking sculpture that would help identify the new environment. The glass panel insets in the 16′ tall sculpture would be made with the help of the neighborhood residents, students of the high school, and the staff of the new Unity Healthcare facility. The Washington Glass Studio worked with the DC Creates! Public Art Program selection committee, the DCCAH Council, Unity Parkside Health Care, the Ward 7 ANC and the community and held a series of glass “quilting-bees” and made a communal environment where community and art were not separate. 

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Artist Erwin Timmers oversaw the structural integration of support framework, LED lighting and glass panel insets.

The 16′ high x 14′ wide sculpture lit internally with LED lighting was one of the largest outdoor artworks installed to date for the Washington Glass Studio, and much went into the design, engineering and the fabrication of the steel framework. 

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

DCCAH invitation to Ward 7 to make glass at WGS

In early 2014, with the structural foundation for the artwork finished and the steel framework underway, the call went out to the community to come make glass. By directly involving the public in the creation of the new landmark, the space would resonate because the artwork would have meaning to all – as everyone had the chance to tell their story.  The glass workshops were packed. Many of the people that came to work in glass returned to each of the scheduled dates – they loved working in glass and wanted to see how the artwork changed once fired. 

DC ANC Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

DC ANC Ward 7 Commissioner Willie H. Woods, Jr and DCCAH Exec Director Lionell Thomas were among the community enlisted to interact with the glass artwork.

By having many area residents making the glass art insets, the sculpture has an increased sense of local identity. The artwork arch stimulates curiosity, inspired some of the budding artists to consider new artistic avenues and on occasion, create a smile.

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Many voices told many stories in the inset panels that made up the glass quilt archway.

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Opposite view of Washington, DC’s Green Community Arch.

The formal opening ceremony of the Anacostia Arch with DC Mayor Gray is now being scheduled. We will update on the school’s FB page and on the blog!

Project Details

  • Location: Corner Hayes Street & Kenilworth Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20019
  • Washington Glass Studio Public Art Team: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson, Derek Thomas, Miles Lark, Cris Chaney and Robyn Townsend
  • Structural Engineers: Holbert Apple Associates, Inc and Wolfman and Associates
  • Structural Steel: Iron Kingdom
  • Number of Glass Tile Insets: Over 300
  • Weight of Sculpture: 2000 lbs

Mark Your Calendars: Penland Auction Aug 8/9

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This year’s featured work, created exclusively for the 2014 Penland Benefit Auction, is Gong Cocktail Service by Julia Woodman, and Black Reticello Martini Glasses, (a set of eight), by Kenny Pieper.

August 8 – 9, 2014

The Penland School of Crafts Annual Benefit Auction is a gala weekend in the North Carolina Mountains featuring the sale of more than 240 works in books, clay, drawing, glass, iron, letterpress, metals, painting, photography, printmaking, textiles, and wood. The Penland auction is one of the most important craft collecting events in the Southeast and a perfect opportunity to support Penland’s educational programs, which have helped thousands of people live creative lives.

Click HERE for detailed schedule.

Auction Weekend Tickets $385

Includes all Friday and Saturday activities

Friday, August 8

Friday-only Tickets $225

Cocktail party, exhibition preview and silent auction, dinner, live auction, dessert party, live music, and dancing

Saturday, August 9

Saturday-only Tickets $275

Coffee at the studios with Penland’s resident artists, silent auction, lunch, live auction, and a reception at the Penland Gallery

Click HERE to jump to Penland Auction page

“All New” Glass Fun Facts: Part 2

The WGS Blog returns to provide More.  Glass.  Trivia!

As far as the early history of glass making in Britain goes, the Romans brought the technology with them. This led to the European-wide spread of glass manufacture. British history records glass “Manufacture” dating back to the 13th century when “Broad Sheet” glass can be located to the areas around Sussex and Surrey. In the meantime the Venetians had thrived as glassmakers, as their glass became popular due to its brilliance and creative form. By 1330 the French had also developed “Crown Glass”. This took until the 17th century to be produced in England, in London.

 In England in 1676 George Ravenscroft invented “Lead crystal” by introducing lead oxide to the glass which took on a more brilliant appearance.

 The 17th century brought a new glass process from France, “Plate glass”, a term still used today. This was a process of pouring molten glass onto a table and then rolled. Once cold, the glass was ground under large grinding disks until optically smooth, making it perfect for mirrors. The French had legislated heavy duties on imported glass products which made it impossible for the Venetians to Export, and also offered generous incentives to any Venetian willing to work for them. By the 18th century this technology was being used in England at Ravenhead, producing the first English Polished Plate.

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The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass building originally erected in Hyde Park, London, England, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851

1834, Robert Lucas Chance introduced “Improved Cylinder Sheet” glass which was produced using a process invented in Germany. This produced even finer and larger glasses. This was the glass used to glaze the “Crystal Palace” in London. Until a change in legislation in 1845 when the “Excise Act” was repealed, glass manufacture was under developed in Britain. Once the heavy tax burdens previously placed on glass manufacture were removed, production grew.

By the end of the 19th century glass bottles were being made by machine, increasing production threefold. The now “Chance Bros.” invented “Machine Rolled Patterned Glass”. By the start of the 20th century, “Owens Glass” in America had further developed bottle manufacture which increased output by 10-fold to some 2,500 bottles per hour.

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By 1910 the first “Laminates” had been produced by Edouard Benedictus, a Frenchman, who named the process “TripleX.” 1914 saw the start of producing glass by the “Drawn” method. Invented by a Belgian man named Fourcault, glass was drawn vertically from a tank. A further development by Richeroux, another Belgian, was to pour the molted glass from a pot between 2 rollers to give a more even thickness and evenness for polishing.

In 1917 “Sheet Glass” was invented by Colburn in America and developed by “Libby-Owens”, a partnership of Michael Owens of Owens glass and his backer E. D. L. Libby. Further improvements were made by “Pittsburg Plate Glass” or PPG.

By 1923 came the first UK production of continuous polished plate glass using the single grinding system. Closely followed in 1938 by the twin grinding system. And then the float process was launched in the marketplace; invented by Pilkington Bros, and introduced in 1959. The significance of this process is that it produced glass with a brilliant finish and without the need to grind or polish the surface, making mass-produced glass with the qualities of polished glass. This was achieved by floating the molten glass on a bath of molten tin, creating a “glass ribbon”, even in width and thickness. This is still the process used today for the production of what is now termed “Float Glass”. 

Glass is commonly used for windows, bottles, modern hard drives and eyewear, and examples of glassy materials include soda-lime glass, borosilicate glass, acrylic glass, sugar glass, Muscovy-glass, and aluminium oxynitride.

Much of the functional architectural glass – like that used in shower doors, table tops, car windows, skylights, etc. – goes through a process called tempering.  Glass is pretty wonderful stuff, but it does have some bad habits.  First, it is brittle and has a tendency to crack when struck or heated unevenly.  Second, shards of glass are really sharp and pretty dangerous.  Tempered glass solves both of these problems simultaneously.  Glass is much stronger in compression than tension.tempered.glass

Tempered Glass Process

If you can cause the surface of the glass to become compressed relative to the interior of it, you can harden it by a factor of up to 10.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  One is to heat the glass and then cool it very quickly.  The surface of the glass will cool much more rapidly than the interior.  The slow cooling of the interior causes it to want to contract more than the surface, placing the surface under considerable compression.   This strengthens the glass and makes it more scratch-resistant and heat-resistant in the bargain.  Another method is chemical tempering, in which sodium atoms on the surface of the glass are replaced with potassium atoms, which are significantly larger.  This also puts the surface in compression, and can be done with glass of complicated shapes that would not survive heat tempering.

One interesting effect of the tempering process is that tempered glass doesn’t just crack.  When tempered glass encounters a big enough stress, it shatters into small granules.  If the integrity of the surface of the glass becomes compromised, the interior, which is under huge tension, will disintegrate.  This is much safer than big dangerous shards, but does make the glass suddenly an awful lot harder to see through.  This is one reason why the windshield of your car is not made with tempered glass, but laminated glass.  Laminated glass is made by bonding two or more layers of glass with an ‘interlayer’ of plastic film which will hold the pieces together if the glass should crack.

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Chicago’s Willis (aka Sears) Tower 103rd floor Skydeck had one of its famous glass ledges shatter an interlayer May 2014

Tempered glass is an extremely useful material, but it does demand some planning.  Because of tempered glass’ all-or-nothing breakage, it must have been already cut to the size, shape, and already have any holes cut out before the tempering process.  There’s no cutting the glass down to fit afterwards. replace.sears.willis.tower.glass.ledge

Tempering as an industrial process started in the 20th century, but it was a party trick far before that.  One of the first examples of tempered glass is something called Prince Rupert’s drops (or balls) , named after the Bavarian prince who brought it to the attention of the court.  If you let a blob of molten glass drip into a bucket of water, it will form an extended teardrop shape with interesting properties.  The bulbous end of the drop is tempered and can withstand extreme force, such as hitting it with a hammer.  The tail, however, is very delicate, and if broken, the whole thing will shatter into tiny pieces. 

When you think about it the stuff is a bit odd, but that’s glass for you.  It’s odd stuff.

Click HERE to jump to Part 1

“All New” Glass Fun Facts: Part 1

Its been a while since we got our glass geek on. These fact-filled glass trivia were very popular when we were on the old blog format, and we’re ready to burst with glass bits-of-info.

When glass breaks, the cracks move at speeds of up to 3,000 miles per hour.

breaking-glass-oThin-glass goblets can vibrate when hit by sound waves. This is due to resonance.

Glass takes over 1 million years to decompose in our landfills and dumps. Recycling glass reduces air pollution by 20%, and water pollution by 50%. Only 27% of the glass used in the United States is recycled. A typical glass recycling factory can recycle up to 20 tons of glass per hour. The energy saved from recycling 1 glass bottle can run a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours.

glass landfillHydrofluoric acid will dissolve glass.

From the start of time glass has been available to man. Stone Age man used obsidian (a naturally formed glass) for cutting tools and weapons. The Phoenicians also accidentally discovered glass when cooking near nitrates that when heated formed glass. However, we have to wait until the Egyptian times before we can actually trace deliberate glass manufacture which was in the form of beads.

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In 1500 BC, we believe the first glass bottles were made using the “Core-Forming Method”.

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The term glass developed in the late Roman Empire. It was in the Roman glassmaking center at Trier, now in modern Germany, that the late-Latin term glesum originated, probably from a Germanic word for a transparent, lustrous substance.Glass manufacture had developed in Venice by the time of the Crusades (A.D. 1096-1270), and by the 1290’s an elaborate guild system of glass workers had been set up. 

Later this week: Part 2 All New Glass Fun Facts!

Click HERE to jump to Part 2

Debra Ruzinsky Lecture On Kiln Casting Techniques

Debra Ruzinsky talks about the glass work of David Reekie.

Debra Ruzinsky talks about the glass work of David Reekie.

Debra Ruzinsky presented a lecture this weekend at the Washington Glass School on the topic of kiln casting. In her history of studying and teaching around the world gave her heaps of images of world famous glass artists process’ and how they approach mold making, and kiln set-up. 

Deb went into detail of how the molds and intricate details were formed and about long annealing schedules.

Deb went into detail of how the molds and intricate details were formed and about long annealing schedules.

The class loved the opportunity to get the knowledge of the various techniques, and stayed after to chat. Debra’s background in glass and her personal history in art provided a fascinating topic for the after-talk… some of these shocking revelations will be part of some future posts!