élan Magazine Profile of Michael Janis

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élan magazine, the
Northern Virginia publication about artists has a great profile on WGS artist Michael Janis. Written by Polly Nell Jones, the article delves into Michael’s influences and inspirations. The color quality of the images is amazing – below is the text from the magazine:

Layered Stories
The Magic of Everyday Life
By Polly Nell Jones
élan magazine, July 2011/ page 40-43

At first glance, the pensive portraits, whimsical botanicals and delicate architectural structures might appear to be acrylic layered with a polymer or watercolor or even pen etchings covered in glass. For many viewers, the intricacies of the glass medium are secondary to the sensitive and somewhat provocative impressions: a raven’s head atop a female body, a teasing collage featuring a manila folder reading, “other side first” or an ironic 19th-century lady titled “Somewhere I Have Never Traveled.” Whether creating the figurative or the surreal, glass artist Michael Janis is a storyteller, a promoter of symbolism and a connector to interior worlds.

After making a rough initial sketch to achieve a sense of scale and proportion, Michael creates an image on a Bullseye glass slab, working sgraffito-style with a fine silica-based frit. He begins by spreading the frit onto a glass surface and then sketches an image using an X-ACTO knife and a synthetic brush to reveal the desired result.

To attain delicacy and depth in his detailed assemblages, Michael employs multiple firings to stabilize each section of a piece. He also creates additional plates, layering them experimentally until he is satisfied with backgrounds, sometimes blocking out an opaque section with enamel paint. A final firing fuses all the plates together, as many as six for some pieces, and when he is finished, his images seem to float within the glass.

“I say I collaborate with glass,” says Michael, “but glass is the master. When I close the kiln door, I always do my glass mojo dance.” Kiln schedules are computer-regulated, but Michael is still able to achieve innovative results through annealing or graduated temperature reductions. Vagaries in the layering process can lead to unexpected air bubbles that are mostly appreciated.

Born in Chicago and the youngest of three brothers, Michael is a study in diversity. His father was Greek-German, and his mother was of Filipino-Chinese-Spanish descent. “I was the odd one,” he says. “I wanted to do the art stuff. That’s why I studied architecture, but then I discovered that it’s not art.”

He reflects on his time at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the architectural program designed by Mies van der Rohe, it was there that Michael learned from a tradition predating computer-generated design programs – a tradition that emphasized the basics of drafting beginning with how to shave a pencil point. Michael acknowledges that the rigorous training gave him the skills he continues to use to lay out and design his constructions.

For 10 years, Michael and his architect wife Kay lived in Australia. While there, he began to work with art glass installation. Returning stateside in 2003, the couple ended up in Washington, D.C., with Michael determined to work with glass full time.

While Kay supported him, he experimented with glassblowing, worked with Jeremy Lepisto, president of the Glass Art Society, on kiln-fired imagery. Eventually he took a class at the Washington Glass School in Mount Rainier, Maryland, becoming the self-described “shop monkey,” cleaning up after classes, watching various projects progress and learning about the behavior of glass under fire. He worked on engraving and image transfer but yearned to go larger, which led him to what he refers to as “pushing powder.”

At the Washington Glass School, where Michael is now a co-director in charge of public art and architecture, his desk is piled with papers helter skelter, not at all in keeping with the precision and detail of his work. Several weeks before a show, he shrugs, chuckling at the prospect of looming deadlines, including one for a site-specific eight-foot sculpture made up of seven panels hanging within a freestanding metal frame.

Showing a work in progress for his solo exhibit, A Lighter Hand, at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, he explains that his architecture training allows him to work with a composition from any angle.

“I was often working upside down on drawings because another architect was working on the drawing on the other side,” he says, comparing the process of manipulating the frit to creating sand painting. Though it seems obvious that walking in front of a fan while moving a piece of art with loose frit to the kiln is not a good idea, Michael finds that students still need to be reminded of such risks.

While working with other artists at the Washington Glass School, he often collaborates on large-scale commission projects that come to the for-profit studio. With his design background, Michael is a natural for making presentation to architectural committees – the difference is that he doesn’t have to wear a suit because now he’s the artist.

Michael’s portrait of his mother includes a map of Manila, timepieces and drafting sketches. Robert Rauschenberg’s collages and Dadaist influences sometimes informs his work. He says he likes viewers to draw their conclusions about meanings. However, he does admit that poetry, symbolism and the magic of everyday life are guides he follows by scratching the surface to plumb the proverbial riddle of life.


“The Memory of Orchids” 12.5″ x 12.5″ fused glass powder


During last month’s GlassWeekend show at the biennial International Symposium and Exhibition of Contemporary Glass in Millville, New Jersey, Michael was designated as “Rising Star.” It is only one in a growing list of awards for Michael, who has been tapped for a Fulbright Teaching Scholarship that he hopes to complete at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, England. In 2010, he received the California Bay Area Institute Saxe Fellowship, and he was named Outstanding Emerging Artists by the Florida Glass Art Alliance in 2009. Michael is represented by Maurine Littleton Gallery in Washington, D.C.

DCMud Covers Washington Glass Studio

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(…well get a hose then!)

The Washington DC Real Estate and Architecture blog, DC Mud has an insightful review of the architectural design and applications of glass by the Washington Glass Studio. The article provides a synopsis on a number of WGS design projects – their history and some great photos of the finished works.

Design writer Beth Herman reveals the origins of some of the glass techniques and process used by WGS: “…But he revealed their signature prowess evolved from an Erwin Timmers experiment, and has essentially been a work in progress over the last decade.

“Someone had mentioned they’d heard if you push something into dry plaster, you can melt things into it,” Tate recounted of the process, adding it just didn’t seem right. “You’d think the thing would fall apart, or smoosh, with no detail.”

m.l. duffy working on cast glass made from recycled glass for Safeway Inc project.

Over what Tate called a very strong objection (“it’s how we do things”) on his part, colleague Timmers tried it, placing his hand into the plaster to make an impression, adding a piece of glass on top which was melted down. Technically, “the heat went on to expand the molecules of the dry plaster, hardening it just enough so that when the glass melts in, it doesn’t move out of the way,” Tate explained, adding they pulled out a piece of glass with Timmers’ fingerprints on it, as it was that detailed. Realizing they had something in this process, Tate said they’ve spent years refining it because they’re using both glass and plaster in ways they were not intended, and formulaic changes need to be made to accommodate seasons and other variables.”

..Of the perpetuation of WGS’s work, and specifically of his students at the school, Tate said “…a rising tide floats all boats. We try to help everyone achieve their next goal. We came together to make an impact on Washington.”

For the link to the entire DCMud article link – click HERE.

World Crafts Council Visits WGS

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Tim Tate addresses a group from the WCC, as PBS film crew documents his comments for posterity.

A contingent of international guests—leaders of national craft federations and craft advocacy groups, as well as diplomats and government officials— came to the Washington Glass School on Thursday.

The North American branch of the World Crafts Council (WCCNA) along with its counterparts in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America sent representatives here to participate in the business seminars held as part of the Buyers Market of American Craft being held at Baltimore’s Convention Center.

Erwin Timmers shows the group the inside of a hot kiln (and how glass and dry plaster powder can mix to produce artwork).

Wendy Rosen, producer of the Buyers Market and a North American representative of WCCNA, and publisher of American Style Magazine and Niche Magazine, had brought the group to the Washington Glass School and Flux Studios as part of a tour of “Craft in the Capitol”.

Artomatic Is Back! In Frederick, MD

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Artomatic is a five week unjuried exhibit scheduled to open Wednesday, September 28th and run through Sunday, November 6th, 2011. The event will be held at the old Board of Education Building located at 115 East Church Street in downtown Frederick.

Artomatic@Frederick will be a collective presentation of visual arts, music, theatre and poetry.

Registration for exhibit space will begin on August 1st and runs through September 9th. Building tours will be held at 9 am and 11 am each Saturday and Sunday beginning July 9th through July 31st (with the exception of July 17th). Artist Registration begins August 1st.

UPDATE: Here are the revised building times:
Artomatic will be conducting tours on:

Saturday July 16th at 9,10 and 11
no tour sunday the 17th
Sat. July 23rd at 9,10 and 11
Sunday July 24 at 10 and 11
Saturday July 30 at 9,10 and 11
Sunday July 31 at 10 and 11

Information: http://www.artomaticfrederick.org/
Questions: aom21701@gmail.com
Phone: 240-285-3758

Debra Ruzinsky @ Brattleboro Museum

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Debra RuzinskySweet Escape” cast glass mixed media, 16.5 x 18.5 x 16 inches 2011

We had mentioned in an earlier post that Studio Artist Debra Ruzinsky was preparing for an upcoming show at Vermont’s Brattleboro Museum. Above is a finished artwork image of Deb’s sumptuous glass artwork and below is more information about the show and link.

Deb’s cast glass confections were selected as part of a show “Glass in all Senses” which opens this Friday, July 15th.

Glass in All Senses
July 15 – October 23, 2011

A kinesthetic investigation into the possibilities of glass, Glass in All Senses features the work of a dozen artists from around the world. Visitors can take in the fragrance of Robert DuGrenier’s glass flowers, create light murals with Alejandro and Moira Sina’s Touch Plane, and even eat Yuka Otani’s Edible Glass. This collection of inventive glasswork will indeed tickle all the senses.
Glass in All Senses is part of ARTCraft, six concurrent exhibits that explore the boundaries between fine art and fine craft.

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
10 Vernon Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301

Book Signing Party for 100 DC Artists Book

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100 Artists of Washington, DC / F Lennox Campello
Schiffer Publishing
ISBN: 9780764337789

The Washington, DC, capital region is not only home to some of the best art museums in the world, hundreds of art galleries, non-profit art spaces, alternative art venues, and art organizations, but it also supports one of the best visual art scenes in the nation. Celebrating this art scene, award-winning artist and prominent critic and commentator, F. Lennox (Lenny) Campello, has compiled works by 100 leading contemporary visual artists who represent the tens of thousands of artists working in this diverse region. Equally diverse are the artistic styles and media you will see in this new book, the first of its kind for the capital area. With more than 730 works of art, Lenny offers a primer for both the savvy art collector and the beginning collector, highlighting his selection of emerging artists who deserve more attention.

As part of the book release events, there will be a party held at one of Washington, DC’s leading art gallery; Conner Contemporary, on Saturday, June 23, 2011.

You might remember last year when Lenny announced that he was retained by Schiffer Publishing to edit and create the “100 Artists of Washington, DC” book as part of their series on national artists, that a fair bit of controversy and debate arose in various newsmedia and blogs, including Lenny re-writing Kriston Capps’ original Washington City Paper article with a different tone. Now that the book is out, we can see if the brouhaha was warranted. The book publisher, Schiffer Books, has also just released a “100 Artists of the Mid-Atlantic” book that includes artists from the DC region – but authored by E. Ashley Rooney. An interesting note – there are few artists that are included in both books – notably, the directors of the Washington Glass School – Michael Janis, Tim Tate and Erwin Timmers were each selected by the authors for inclusion in their books.

100 Artists of Washington, DC Book Release Party
Saturday, July 23, 2011
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Conner Contemporary Art
1358 Florida Ave, NE

Washington, DC

Can’t wait for the bookstores or Amazon (where its already out of stock!)? Click HERE to jump to Google search for sites that have the book!

Here are the 100 DC area artists:

Ken Ashton
Joseph Barbaccia
m. gert barkovic
Holly Bass
John Blee
Margaret Boozer
Adam Bradley
Scott G. Brooks
Lisa Montag Brotman
iona rozeal brown
Wayne Edson Bryan
Renee Butler
Judy Byron
Colby Caldwell
Rafael J. Cañizares-Yunez
Chan Chao
Zoe Charlton
William Christenberry
Manon Cleary
Mary Coble
Danny Conant
Kathryn Cornelius
Rosemary Feit Covey
Jeffry Cudlin
Richard Dana
Adam de Boer
Rosetta DeBerardinis
David D’Orio
John Dreyfuss
William Dunlap
Mary Early
Victor Ekpuk
Dana Ellyn
Fred Folsom
Helen Frederick
Rik Freeman
Chawky Frenn
Victoria F. Gaitán
Carol Brown Goldberg
Janis Goodman
Pat Goslee
Muriel Hasbun
Linda Hesh
Jason Horowitz
James Huckenpahler
Melissa Ichiuji
Martha Jackson Jarvis
Michael Janis
Judy Jashinsky
Mark Jenkins
Margarida Kendall Hull
Craig Kraft
Sidney Lawrence
Amy Lin
Barbara Liotta
Malik Lloyd
Laurel Lukaszewski
Maxwell MacKenzie
Akemi Maegawa
James W. Mahoney
Isabel Manalo
Percy Martin
Carolina Mayorga
J.J. McCracken
Donna McCullough
Patrick McDonough
Alexa Meade
Linn Meyers
Maggie Michael
A.B. Miner
Brandon Morse
Lida Moser
Cory Oberndorfer
Byron Peck
Jefferson Pinder
Michael B. Platt
Susana Raab
W.C. Richardson
Marie Ringwald
Nate Rogers
Robin Rose
Erik Sandberg
Matt Sesow
Foom V. Sham
Joe Shannon
Jeff Spaulding
Molly Springfield
Dan Steinhilber
Lou Stovall
Tim Tate
Lisa Marie Thalhammer
Erwin Timmers
Ben Tolman
Kelly Towles
Novie Trump
Frank Warren
Joe White
John Winslow
Colin Winterbottom
Andrew Wodzianski

Click HERE to jump to a Pink Line Project interview with Lenny Campello by John Anderson on what started this project and how the artists were chosen.

Chris Shea Is Put Into A Museum

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Chris Shea forged steel, cast glass

It’s official: The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum has acquired three of Chris Shea’s cast glass-and-steel furniture pieces for their permanent collection. The two chairs and a table will be on exhibit at the Renwick in DC this Fall. Congratulations Chris!

Chris studied blacksmithing and silversmithing at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Tennessee, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University. A professional artist and blacksmith for over 10 years, Chris designs and creates hand-forged furniture, sculpture and architectural metalwork at his studio in Brandywine, MD.


click on image to jump to a slideshow of Chris’ process.

Chris has been making a number of cast glass panels that will be featured in his newest work – the Demilune Table – hopefully to be featured on the Glass School blog!

To jump to Chris’s website – click HERE.

3D Glass Printing

>The recent posting about 3D printer technology and the resulting roving robots amuck in the Sahara, leaving a trail of glassware had generated a lot of inquiries into the 3D technology (and interest in how does one get access to this). Recently, a high-tech fabrication/prototype workshop has opened in Washington, DC: Fab Lab DC
From their website:

Fab Labs provide access to prototype tools for personal
fabrication, like a personal computer that can output
functional objects instead of images on a screen.
The labs have spread from inner-city Boston to Africa and
Norway, with projects tackling applications in areas
including healthcare,agriculture, housing, and communications...
In the spirit of MIT’s Fab Lab community outreach project,
FAB LAB DC will create a high-tech,fabrication
laboratory/
community workshop in the heart of the
Nation’s Capital to
advance creativity, innovation, and
collaborative projects.
FAB LAB DC will serve and foster
the creative community by
providing access to digital
fabrication technology, rapid prototyping,
and the global
Fab Lab network.


There are some other online sites that allow one to upload files that
they will fabricate and ship to you - like
Shapeways - a
Netherlands based site that now has opened offices in NYC.

Shapeways also has glass prototype facilities - but they have a
list of of rules for this process.


Click HERE to jump to Fab Lab DC's website.
Click HERE to jump to Fab Lab blog.

ReadysetDC on Washington Glass School

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The hip and trendy culture blog – ReadysetDC just covered the Washington Glass School 10th anniversary exhibition at Long View Gallery with an in-depth review of the show with insights about the Washington Glass School directors and DC GlassWorks’ Dave D’Orio.

Writer Natalie Stemp has some thoughtful takes on the changing status of glass as a sculptural medium:
“Let’s play a game. If I say “canvas”, what do you picture? You probably imagine art – Vermeer, Seurat, Picasso, Mondrian, maybe even DC’s Chris Martin. What if I say “glass”? Do the words “sink, wine, stained” instantly light up like neon signs? If so, you are not alone, but the Washington Glass School (WGS) wishes you were.

The Studio Glass Movement was founded just 50 years ago, so it is not surprising that most of us still perceive glass art strictly as decorative. In fact, the WGS – the face of the Movement in DC along with DC GlassWorks – celebrated its 10 year anniversary last weekend with a reception at Longview Gallery that concluded a month-long retrospective exhibition. After touring the exhibition with Michael Janis, co-director of WGS, I find it difficult to understand why the art establishment struggles to include consistent representation of expressive glass art at preeminent shows and museums. Think about the museums you visited in the past year: did any of them include contemporary glass art in its curation?…”

Natalie’s article contains many photos taken from the exhibition and comments about the featured artist’s work.

ReadysetDC is an online zine dedicated to the creative revolution and movement that is happening in Washington, DC.

Click HERE to jump to ReadysetDC’s article.

Solar Powered 3D Printer Turns Sand Into Glass

>Solar Sintar

Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

If you have been like me, you spend every possible hour in the studio – head down, working on artwork and projects. The world, my friend, however, has been marching on. New technologies are reshaping how art is made.
In this brave new world, 3D printers top every sculptors must-have list.

The model above is Emmanuel Lattes’ Double Möbius. 3D printed in glass. Glass frit powder is mixed with a binding agent that allows the work to be modeled and built by layers in a 3D printer. The work is then carefully loaded into a kiln and fired, fusing the powder and burning away the binding agent. Tho a bit more fragile and rougher than traditional glass forming, the possibilities of computer assisted sculpture are incredible.

But to put all this progress into perspective, a little history is in order. The first 3D printer was produced by Charles Hull in 1984, who utilized a patented stereolithography method for the print process. The basic approach for 3D printing is to create a layer of polymer for the desired 2D slice, cure that area, and then repeat to build layer-upon-layer. Hull’s technique involved creating a 0.0025-inch layer of liquid photocurable polymer that could be cured with a UV laser.
In 1988, the first commercially available 3D printer was
officially launched by 3D Systems, which utilized a photo-optical acrylic resin. In the early 1990s, a number of other methods were developed, including fused deposition modeling that extruded thermoplastics for layering and multi-jet modeling, based on ink-jet printer technology. Techniques have also been developed that use powder and lasers. Over time, a multitude of companies across the world have sprung up offering their high-end printers combined with CAD software and scanners, allowing objects to be either scanned or designed from scratch.


In the above video, Markus Kayser goes into the Sahara with a solar powered printer to create 3D objects – including a bowl – by melting the sand that he scoops up. What an idea for the Glass School’s bowl class! (& class outdoors!). But, you may ask,
what about annealing?

Awesome to get a glimpse of the future of both sculpture and sustainable design.

For more about 3D printing – click HERE to jump to a recent article in The Economist.