Jack Johnson & Glass

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Jack Johnson’s got the whole (glass) world, in his hands.


This past summer we had a blog posting about National Geographic‘s newly created “Arts Ambassador for the Environment Award” – given to entertainers that are leaders in environmental and cultural conservation. The award was designed and made by the Washington Glass Studio from recycled glass. The winner for the inaugural award was singer Jack Johnson. We just received a photo of Jack holding his award.

The creation of the National Geographic Society award was covered in the first of the series called “The Process“. Click HERE to jump to the posting of how the recycled glass award was made using the “lost wax” process.

Master Class in Painting On Glass

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Coming soon is the Master Painting on Glass class – make sure you don’t miss the chance to learn from glass guru Bert Weiss!



Master Class: Painting On Glass with Bert Weiss

Instructor: Bert Weiss
Dates: President’s Day Weekend – February 18, 19 & 20th, 2012
Time: 10 am – 4pm each day
Tuition: $400


Led by master artist Bert Weiss, this three-day glass painting technique class features multiple projects designed to give the student a better understanding of lass painting and its enormous potential in fused glass. Bert’s techniques allow you to use vibrant colors without worrying about glass compatibility. The course will show you how to mix metallic oxide colorants with glass and create oil paint like-washes. This course is suitable for all levels of experience. Students do not need to bring anything, all the tools and materials are provided for the course – just wear suitable old clothes and sturdy shoes… oh, and bring a lunch! Bert Weiss studied traditional glass painting with Albinus Elskus and has developed and improved his techniques for the past 40 years. Bring any questions you may have had about glass fusing; within 10 minutes Bert should be able to troubleshoot!


Class 1204 – Master Class: Painting On Glass with Bert Weiss

Instructor: Bert Weiss
Dates: President’s Day Weekend – February 18, 19 & 20th, 2012
Time: 10 am – 4pm each day
Tuition: $400
Click HERE to jump to the WGS class website page.

Compelled by Tim Tate

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Many in the DC area know the work of sculptor Tim Tate – but I am sure many are not aware of the origins of his imagery and what drives him to make such personal artwork. Recently, Tim met with a museum curator for a show later to be installed this year and Tim outlined his obsessions. It is such a fascinating story – I insisted that the school blog share it with all:

The Foundations of Tim Tate’s Artwork

My art grows out of my life filled with unusual experiences, though it begins simply enough. I grew up in a household filled with art supplies, as my mother was an artist. My original intent as an adolescent was to take ceramics at Cranbrook, but my family could not afford to send me, so I had to settle, making art on the side while beginning a different career path.

Then, as a very young man, I received a terminal diagnosis. I was given less than a year to live, a very difficult concept for a young man to get his head around. I remember that one of my first thoughts was that I was living in someone else’s life. That I was living the life others wanted me to live. I decided at that instant to try to reclaim my artistic side.

With only a year to live, there was no need to apply to grad school….so I discovered the amazing workshops at Penland and threw myself into learning. Yet, at the end of a year, I was surprisingly still alive. They told me I was lucky, but that I should sew up my affairs, as I still had but a year at most. I heard this yearly for the next 10 years.

It’s hard to imagine, I know….to live for over a decade believing I would be struck down at any minute. It changes you and your priorities. Legacy becomes imperative. To be remembered after you are gone. It affected me the most by making sure that every free hour or trip I could spare was to Penland. My entire reason for surviving became the need to master and understand the artistic medium of glass, though I could only afford the 1- or 2-week classes. I lived this way for 10 years.

Then my mother passed away. In her will she left me enough money and instructions to take a concentration class at Penland. Now I had 2 full months to invest towards my work. Prior to this concentration I had completely focused on technique. The class completely changed my life. It focused almost entirely on narrative content. My final piece was a design to hold my mother’s ashes and memories. One of these works went straight to the Renwick Museum. Today it is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

So much about glass art at this time was technique driven, but I truly believed it could be so much more. I was determined to have glass taken seriously as a sculptural medium. My work revolved around healing and memory, heaven and hell, nostalgia and resurrection. I began working in the form of reliquaries.

Glass, and Penland, had saved my life to that point. I began seeing each of my pieces as a way to connect to the viewer…to act as a healing agent for them, as well as for me while creating the piece. At first these pieces simply included objects, then they began including text. I also became obsessed with miniaturizing objects. I would make them out of clay, then use lost wax casting to make objects…..hundreds of objects. Each one I made became a language in my image library. Each one carried significance, and by combining them I could produce a dialog. These dialogs became very elaborate, but always with my true themes of healing and memory, heaven and hell, nostalgia and resurrection.

I produced over 100 of these reliquaries….each one healing me just a little bit more. In my mind, each one was truly imbued with existential healing powers not only for myself, but for whoever owned them. I still believe this.

At a certain point I realized that by adding video to my work, my narrative could be exponentially expanded. I became as obsessed with video as I was with glass. Now I could really examine the themes I had become so interested in. I also started realizing that I could leave glass behind. My work separated into two distinct categories. For shows like S.O.F.A. and the material-based galleries that supported it, my work focused heavily on my interest in miniaturization of objects in glass. When I added video, the dialog in these forums was still frequently about the technique used in producing the glass, though the intellectual property had shifted. There will always be a fascination with small glass objects.

In the shows like ArtBasel and its satellite shows, however, as well as the galleries that support them, the dialog completely shifted to the concept behind the piece. This has allowed me to fully expand my specific narrative to video, not always including glass. Now I could expand my work to larger series, and have shows that were solely video. This will be the case in my large museum show next summer.

In all this, my narrative has not changed. Knowing that I am headed to Heaven (or more certainly Hell), I love inventing heaven and hell the way I want to see them. I still am always investigating man’s relationship with healing and reliquary…even when the reliquary takes the form of video. I still work through my own angst about memory and nostalgia, but I broaden it beyond my immediate experience to make it more universal…less specific. Thus my videos may be the most healing of all my work.

You are probably asking what happened to the terminal diagnosis – which was 28 years ago. Well, the diagnosis still stands. But fortunately the doctors were wrong regarding its speed. This helps explain why I’m driven so hard. I always believe I will be struck down suddenly.

My obsession with healing and reliquary continues, even in video form. Hopefully this will give you additional insight into each piece you see. The more a viewer relates to my work, the more successful it becomes to me.

I see my sculptures as self-contained video installations. Blending a traditional craft with new media technology gives me the framework into which I fit my artistic narrative. Revelation — and in some cases self-revelation — is the underlying theme of my electronic reliquaries.

My interactive pieces can be seen as disturbing because the face that stares back from the video screen — your own — prompts a variety of responses: amusement, discomfort, embarrassment, something akin to the feeling you have when someone catches you looking at your own reflection in a store window as you walk by.

But the important revelations here are in the viewer’s response to my hybrid art form and its conceptual nature. I try to bare everything — the guts of my materials and my inner thoughts — in deceptively simple narrative videos set into specimen jars. Nothing is random, all elements are thought out.

To me, these works are phylacteries of sorts, the transparent reliquaries in which bits of saints’ bones or hair — relics — are displayed. In many cultures and religions, relics are believed to have healing powers. My relics are temporal, sounds and moving images formally enshrined, encapsulating experiences like cultural specimens. And perhaps, to the contemporary soul, they are no less reliquaries than those containing the bones of a saint.

Art-o-matic is back for 2012!

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Artomatic Returns to Crystal City in 2012!

Free and Open to All, May 18th – June 24th

Artomatic returns to Crystal City in 2012 for our signature free arts event, to be held in the biggest Artomatic building ever, from May 18 – June 24.

Artomatic 2012


Artomatic will partner with the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) to transform the Transwestern Presidential Tower at 2511 S. Clark St. in Crystal City into a vibrant arts community that celebrates creativity and creates a unique and exciting event for tens of thousands of visitors – all free to visit.

Registration information to exhibit work at Artomatic will be available soon. To get the latest updates, keep an eye on your email, and subscribe to Artomatic by Facebook, or Twitter.

Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life

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Save The Date!
February 29, 2012 at noon, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum will screen “Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life.” “A Not So Still Life” peers into the kaleidoscopic mind of American glass artist Ginny Ruffner. The documentary explores Ruffner’s journey from her childhood in South Carolina to her emergence as a world-renowned artist. The film also highlights her influences, including Dale Chihuly, Graham Nash, and Tom Robbins. The film is 80 minutes in length and was directed by Karen Stanton; produced by Shadowcatcher Entertainment/Tom Gorai. The event will take place at the Grand Salon of the Renwick Gallery and admission is free. After the screening, Ginny will participate in a discussion about the film and sign copies of the DVD that will be available for purchase on site.

Glass artist Ginny Ruffner can’t be summed up in one word, but the most commonly used term is “inspiring”. Adding to Ginny’s extraordinary story is her astounding recovery from a near-fatal car accident in 1991 which left her in a coma for five weeks and confined to a hospital for five months. Doctors were convinced that she would never walk or talk again, but true to her indomitable spirit, Ginny Ruffner transformed a potentially tragic accident into a career of even more imaginative creations. From pop-up books, to room-sized installation pieces, to public works, Ginny’s art has blossomed and continues to expand. Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life marks ShadowCatcher Entertainment’s first feature-length documentary, and one sure to challenge you to see the world from a new and unexpected perspective.

Following screening of the film, Maurine Littleton will feature an exhibition of Ginny’s work at the gallery. The gallery event will begin approximately at 2:00 PM and Ginny will be present.

The Maurine Littleton Gallery is located at 1667 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC.

Historical Glass Fun Facts : Invention of Pyrex & the Studio Glass Movement

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From this. . . . . . .. . . . . . . .to this.

“It was all her idea”

The History of Pyrex
Back in the early 1900′s, Corning Glass Works was working on a request from the railroads to produce lantern glass that would not break when the hot glass was struck by rain or snow. In response to this request, Corning developed globes made from low-expansion glass that could withstand the abuses of weathering and handling which readily broke the flint glass globes. Ironically, the shatterproof lantern globes generated were so good that Corning‘s managers witnessed a decline in sales of replacement globes. This super-tough “fire glass”, as it was called, was resistant to temperature fluctuations, chemical corrosion and even breakage.
Eugene Sullivan, Director of Research at Corning Glass Works, developed Nonex, a borosilicate low-expansion glass, to reduce breakage in shock-resistant lantern globes and battery jars. (Borosilicate glass was originally developed at the Jena Glass works by Otto Schott, which Sullivan had learned about as a doctoral student in Leipzig, Germany.)

In July 1913, a series of events involving Bessie Littleton, the wife of the company’s newest scientist – Dr Jessie Littleton, forced Corning managers to focus their attention on the consumer venture. Apparently, Mrs. Littleton had used a Guernsey brand casserole only twice when it fractured in the oven. Knowing the strength of the glass her husband worked with on a daily basis, she implored him to bring home a substitute from the Corning Glass Works plant. He returned the next evening with the bottoms of two sawed-off battery jars made from low-expansion glasses. Mrs. Littleton cooked a sponge cake in one of the surrogate baking dishes. She noted several remarkable findings:
• The cooking time was shorter
• The cake did not stick to the glass; it was easy to remove with little adhesion
• The cake was unusually uniform
• The flavor of the cake did not remain in the dish after washing
• She could watch the cake bake and know it was done by looking at the underside.

Mr. Littleton brought his wife’s creation to work the following day. Laboratory researchers inspected the cake, which was a “remarkable uniform shade of brown all over.” The men deemed it delicious and very well baked. (A favorite of any lab conclusion, Ed.) Thus began a two-year process to perfect this new invention. The notion of baking in glass was a whole new concept to the public. In 1915, a wondrous new line of “glass dishes for baking” appeared in the nation’s hardware, department and china stores. On May 18, 1915, Boston department store Jordan Marsh placed the first PYREX bakeware order.

The Littleton’s had a son – Harvey K Littleton. Harvey was born in 1922 and was briefly employed by the Corning Glass Works in the 1940s, where he developed his glassmaking skills and began to pursue the idea of glass as a medium for artistic expression. The earliest objects in the exhibition are two experimental cast female torsos, dating to 1942 and 1946, which are the first works in glass made by Littleton while working at Corning Glass Works. Also featured are glass vessels from the early 1960s, dating to the years just after the seminal Toledo Workshops, as well as a bottle made at the 1962 Workshops.

Click HERE to jump to the story of Harvey Littleton and his historic workshops that brought glass from the factory to the artists.

Other Glass Fun Facts to know and tell:

Glass Fun Facts: Gaffer/Composer

More Glass Fun Facts: Bullseye Glass

Float Glass Fun Facts

Glass Fun Facts – Shattered Glass Predicts Weather

Why is Glass Transparent?

Bullseye Gallery Features Artists That "Paint" With Glass

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Touching With A Lighter Hand / Michael Janis

Bullseye Gallery in Portland, Oregon has a great new show of work by artists that use glass as a canvas. Facture” has already created a bit of a buzz. The GLASS Quarterly‘s Ruth Reader has a great article and interview with Michael Janis about using glass as a painter’s canvas. This weekend, January 8, from 2 – 4 pm, Bullseye will host a panel discussion with artists Michael Janis, Kari Minnick, Martha Pfanschmidt, Ted Sawyer, Abi Spring, and Jeff Wallin; moderated by Michael End. The artists will also present images and discuss their methods.

Bullseye special events are offered free of charge, but advance reservations are required. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours prior to events. To reserve your spot, call or email BE: 503.227.2797 or portlandclasses@bullseyeglass.com

Bullseye Resource Center, 3610 SE 21st Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Click HERE to jump to Bullseye Gallery website images of works in the show.

Tim Tate – What a Comedian!

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Everyone knows that Tim Tate is a storyteller artist extraordinaire. His narrative works are often informed with a wry sense of humor. Tim’s funnybone is now part of a new book by Schiffer Books.

Hardcover: 256 pages, Publisher: Schiffer Publishing (Release date: March 28, 2012), ISBN-10: 076434059X

Author Brigitte Martin has put together a book – “Humor In Craft” – featuring highly ironic, political, sarcastic, and just plain amusing works by artists from across the US and abroad. The book sure to challenge viewers to move beyond their own frames of reference when considering approaches to contemporary art.

Pittsburgh’s Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC) will be including Tim’s work “My Love Life Thus Far” in the Society for Contemporary Craft exhibition of work selected from the 265 artists in the book Humor in Craft this July 20 through October 27, 2012. A national tour of the exhibition is planned and further information on this will be forthcoming as soon as details have been finalized.

My Love Thus Far / Tim Tate

photo credit Pete Duvall / anythingphoto.net

Below is the video that is contained within the reliquary – the building collapses and resurrects in a continual loop.

2011 WGS Year-In-Review

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Looking thru the Washington Glass School postings (both official school blog and the more casual Facebook page) and events from a few months ago seem like ages ago. The strange phenomena of time flying by is observed again. Many of the years past events were months – or years- in planning and preparation, and seemed like they would never happen, now seem faraway, and the impact, both good and bad will be here for a while. Some high points, some sad loss. Month by month – here is a quick review of Washington Glass School’s 2011:

January 2011

The year started out with some new artistic directions.

Jeff Zimmer works on his layered glass imagery.
WGS Alum Jeff Zimmer worked on some new pieces for the school’s 10th Anniversary show.
Its been a great year for Jeff – his work was part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in Oct.

artist: Christina Bothwell media:clay & glass.
The foundation for “
Glass Secessionism” was outlined as a challenge for the aesthetics of the 21st century.

Matt (m l duffy) checks for tin side. The school’s new-fangled digital tin-o-meter also arrived in 2011.
Matthew Duffy began working on fabrication of the Washington Glass Studio’s public art project for Safeway Bethesda.

Susan documents Rob Kincheloe’s lampwork process. Susan’s strong photographic skills will be part of her book series.
Susan Lomuto (aka Daily Art Muse) arrived into the area to do a residency in the glass school and the surrounding ceramics studios.

February

artist: Kirk Waldroff media cast glass, led lighting, wood
Kirk Waldroff opens his mixed media/glass print exhibit at Glenview Mansion. Dr Claudia Rousseau reviewed his artwork.

March

photo by : Pete Duvall
American Craft Magazine has a large feature of the collaborative works by Tim Tate and Marc Petrovic.

April

This glass work is good enough to shout about.
Kirk Waldroff’s printmaking with glass class is one of the stronger design class of the year, with a number of students taking off in creative directions.

Ready for framing and the Smithsonian.
Glass artist Judith Schaechter held a creativity workshop for the JRA at the Washington Glass School.

artist: Elizabeth Ryland Mears, Tex Forrest Crowds packed the gallery
The Washington Glass School 10th Anniversary exhibition opens at Long View Gallery in Washington, DC.

Post critic Michael O’Sullivan’s in-depth review of the show.
The Washington Post reviews the Long View show, asking “Is Glass Only Pretty?”.

June

Gallery 555 exhibit of WGS student work.
Gallery 555 also hosted an exhibition in honor of the 10th Anniversary of WGS, with a successful show of student works.

Rob Kincheloe coldworks the glass, evaluating the quality of the recycled float glass casting.
National Geographic commissioned the Washington Glass Studio to create a special “environment” award for singer Jack Johnson. The development of the award design and creation was documented in the blog’s new feature column “The Process”.

Tim Tate’s work at Wheaton Arts. View of Maurine Littleton Gallery space during GlassWeekend.
Rising Star – Michael Janis
The Bi-annual “GlassWeekend” was this year with a huge show at WheatonArts The Creative Glass Center of America (CCGA and theArt Alliance for Contemporary Glass (AACG) named our Michael Janis a “Rising Star” at the event.

July

Tim Tate is filmed by PBS documentary crew as he speaks to the tour group.
Wendy Rosen brought a contingent of international guests – leaders of national craft federations and craft advocacy groups, as well as diplomats and government officials – as part of the World Craft Council held in Washington, DC.

yeah, hand-forged steel is nice and all… but what about the glass?
Chris Shea’s forged metal and glass sculpture/furniture was added to the Smithsonian’s permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery.

Conner Contemporary hosted a book release party in honor of F Lennox Campello’s book “100 Artists of Washington, DC” – one of the more successful in the Schiffer Books line of artist reference series.

August

An unusual month in terms of “natural events”. An earthquake hit DC, causing some minor damage to the glass display area in the student gallery of the school. Later in the month – a massive heatwave sent temps over 100 degrees F, and also Hurricane Irene hit DC.

Michael talks with art patrons about the imagery in glass. Michael Janis’ solo show at Fuller Craft Museum opened. Perry Price – the Associate Curator of the Museum later commented that they had some of the highest media coverage of the show, and that the Docents worked the educational aspects of the show with the visiting school students.

Installation began on the Safeway public art project. Evan Morgan returned to help install.

WaPo columnist Kris Coronado interviews Erwin and share a laugh. Erwin Timmers was featured in the Washington Post Magazine on the “Art of Recycling“.

Jason Burnett showcases Tim’s video reliquary at the auction.
Tim Tate’s artwork was part of the Penland School Auction – and sets a new record!

September

Architectural artwork by artists, instructors and students commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Washington Glass School was installed on the facade of the school.

Zenith Gallery hosted a book release exhibition for the “100 Artists of the Mid Atlantic” that featured each of the WGS directors.

The national organization Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass (AACG) held its annual meeting in Washington, DC this year. Part of the events included tours of glass spots – museum tours, collector’s homes, gallery talks and a fun night at the Washington Glass School. A huge bar-be-que was on the menu that night, with an ice cream truck dispensing Good Humor to all.

October

Safeway’s new public art lights up the Bethesda streetscene.
The public art and architectural installation created for Safeway supermarket in Bethesda opened in spectacular fashion.

DC’s Seed Charter School had a class at WGS that mixed art, history, chemistry, mathematics and physics.

November

Maurine Littleton Gallery space at SOFA Chicago 2011. Marc Petrovic’s work at Heller Gallery. Tim Tate’s work at Jane Sauer Gallery.
The BIG show – SOFA Chicago. Allegra Marquart, Michael Janis, Tim Tate each did well at the huge international art fair this year, and the hope that the trend continues to the next year is held by all!

The United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) celebrated its centennial with glass. The organization commissioned special artwork for families of Edward Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower in memory of the work each had done. The red carpet gala event feature celebrities and performances by Wyclef Jean.

December

As Rob Kincheloe sets up a dedicated Torch work studio in Virginia, Mick Coughlan joined the school as the new studio coordinator.

The Fulbright Program named Tim Tate & Michael Janis each as recipients of Fulbrights. In 2012, both will be off to University of Sunderland starting in March.

Nicole Puzan, 1983-2011, Studio Coordinator, Artist, Friend

After a battle with cancer, our Nicole Puzan passed away in December.

There are so many stories from the last year, this posting started as a short list and there were so many events and shows that these are the ones that made it to this (almost) final posting for the year.

Here’s to the hope that 2012 will be a good year for all!

Artist’s and Collector’s New Year’s Party!

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No plans for New Year’s Eve yet? Here’s a very unusual event you may want to attend!

The James Renwick Alliance is throwing a fund raiser for the museum at the spectacular home of ubercollectors Ben and Giselle Huberman in Potomac, MD. Did I say home? I meant castle! This 30,000 sq ft four story unbelievable house will play host to an Art Casino Night. Poker and Roulette will be there….but instead of money, you win art! Plus its catered!

Ben & Giselle Huberman

Artists include many local folks…..Tim Tate, Andrew Wodzianski, Sean Hennessey…..dozens of others. And here is the bizarre part - Tim Tate will be the Master of Ceremonies! (quelle Fellini). It’s a fund raiser….so its $250 per person (tax deductible). For that you get $50 worth of chips to play at the casino. There is also an artist treasure hunt in the house with a great prize!

What could be more fun! Gambling in a magnificent house, fully catered food and wine, dancing, cabaret…..and art for prizes!! If you are interested, call Tim at 202-744-8222. You must have your name in and be paid by Friday at 5pm.

Hope to see you there!