2017 WGS Year in Review

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A look back at some of our biggest moments of the year and what we’re looking forward to in 2018. This year brought us the first year of Trump’s presidency, a historic solar eclipse and some huge exhibits. Now, as the year draws to a close, WGS blog reflects on some of the happenings that rocked – and to some degree reshaped our place in the glass art world.

January 

The Women’s march held in Washington D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017 was organized after the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S. to demonstrate solidarity among women, minorities, LGBT and other disenfranchised communities. Glass Art Magazine editor Shawn Waggoner visited the Washington Glass School while in town for the event.

Glass Art Magazine editor Shawn Waggoner was one of the participants in the Womens March in January.

Glass Art Magazine editor Shawn Waggoner (second from left) was one of the participants in the Women’s March in January.

WGS Instructor Debra Ruzinsky was named the new director of the Appalachian Center for Craft. The Appalachian Center for Craft is located in scenic Middle Tennessee near the town of Smithville. The facility was built in 1979 and has spacious studios, gallery, exhibitions, administrative offices, library, student housing and meeting/audio visual rooms.

The Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee.

The Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee.

Glass Art Magazine featured our Michael Janis in a profiled in their magazine and as part of their podcast series “Talking Out Your Glass“.

Glass Art Magazine featured Michael Janis in the Jan/Feb issue.

Glass Art Magazine featured Michael Janis in the Jan/Feb issue.

February

Washington Glass Studio completed installation of a two-part public art project in Florida. Palm Beach County‘s Art in Public Places awarded WGS the commission to design and fabricate integrated public art sculptures as part of the renovation of an existing facility for the new headquarters for Palm Beach County’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO). The works were installed starting in January and completed in February 2017.

Public art at Florida's West Palm Beach International Airport

Public art at Florida’s West Palm Beach International Airport

March
March featured the opening of “Embracing Narrative” – the joint exhibition of glass works by artists from the Washington Glass School and the Virginia Glass Guild opened this weekend at Virginia’s Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center (PACC). Juried by Diane Wright, Curator of Glass, Chrysler Museum of Art and Sheila Giolitti, Mayer Fine Art Gallery, the exhibit kicked off the Glass Art Society’s (GAS) 46th annual conference that was held at the Chrysler Museum and the Perry Glass Studio in June, 2017. embracing_narrative.GAS_conference_norfolk.washington_new_post.studio.glass_.secession.art_.exploring.invite

April

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) invited WGS’ Michael Janis in April to the museum to talk about his artwork that was featured in the exhibit “Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art”. He talked about his glass process and the themes that run thru his work. MOCA_meet_the_artist_Janis_michael.museum.glass_.mental_health.mindful

In April, Habatat Galleries featured works by Washington Glass School artists Erwin Timmers, Tim Tate, Michael Janis and Sean Hennessey at the gallery’s 45th Glass International Award Exhibition.

Erwin Timmers' new cast glass and LED panels were featured at the 45th International.

Erwin Timmers’ new cast glass and LED panels were featured at the 45th International.

May

Washington Glass School co-founder Tim Tate was invited by Glenn Adamson, senior scholar at Yale, to speak at a symposium at Yale University. Tim talked about his work, as well as artists Roberto Lugo and Stephanie Syjuco. Tim Tate talked about how objects differ from other types of evidence, when it comes to histories of ideology and belief.

Tim Tate at Yale conference.

Tim Tate at Yale conference.

June 

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WheatonArts hot shop during Glass Weekend 2017

New Jersey’s WheatonArts opened GlassWeekend 2017– an International Symposium and Exhibition of Contemporary Glass. For 32 years, GlassWeekend brought together the world’s leading glass artists, collectors, galleries, and museum curators at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center for a three-day weekend in June. This year’s demonstrating artists were Matthew Szosz, Rik Allen, and Shelley Muzylowski Allen. The keynote speaker featured Susie Silbert, the new Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Tim Tate was one of the featured LBGTQ artists in the Liberty Museum show.

Tim Tate was one of the featured LBGTQ artists in the Liberty Museum show.

The National Liberty Museum hosted the nation’s first museum exhibit of studio glass works produced exclusively by artists of the LGBTQ+ community. Each artist explored diverse subjects, methods, and styles using the artistic medium of glass making.

July

Teary-eyed farewell to Our Miss Wilson - artist Trish Kent baked a farewell cake in the shape of Audrey's favorite artistic element - a feather.

Teary-eyed farewell to our Ms Wilson – artist Trish Kent baked a farewell cake in the shape of Audrey’s favorite artistic element – a feather.

The Table-making class was great fun!

The glass table-making class was great fun!

Washington Glass School’s table making class ended with some happy artist/students! Erwin Timmers class made the glass for the tabletops and welded the steel for the table bases.

Audrey Wilson was recognized unstoppable force of nature! The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass (AACG) awarded her with their Visionary Scholarship - with it, she was off to Penland for intensive workshops. Glass Art Magazine also featured Audrey with a great profile in the July/August issue! Ms Wilson had to say goodbye to WGS, as she began MFA classes at Ohio’s Kent State.

Glass Art Magazine featured Audrey Wilson in their July/August issue.

Glass Art Magazine featured Audrey Wilson in their July/August issue.

August

Tim Tate outlines the history of the American Studio Glass Movement to the class.

Tim Tate outlines the history of the American Studio Glass Movement to the class.

Baltimore’s Contemporary Glass Art class held at the CCBC visited the Washington Glass School as part of their studies. The group got to meet with many of the artists working from the studio, and were able to see how a school & studio functions.

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LBK gets to work making changes in the Glass School.

Laura Beth Konopinski joined the WGS crew as the new Studio Coordinator coming from the Pittsburgh Glass Center. LBK quickly updated our procedures and has taken over the workings of the busy studio. Ms Konopinski’s artwork has also been noticed, with her work being sought out for exhibition at the Miami Art Week.

“The Great American Eclipse” was the name given to the solar eclipse visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States, passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. WGS celebrated by having the community over to watch the event using the studio’s protective welding eyewear.

Said WGS Co-Director Michael Janis of the eclipse: "whoa".

Said WGS Co-Director Michael Janis of the eclipse: “whoa”.

September

sean.Hennessey.art.sculptureArtist Sean Hennessey became a proud papa, introducing his best work yet: Atlas Leif. Mazel tov!

The James Renwick Alliance’s (JRA) annual Distinguished Artist Series (DAS) brings notable craft artists from around the country – and in September, the season started off great with Alex Bernstein as the distinguished artist in Glass. Alex took the JRA workshop attendees along a journey from billet to awesome in about 3 hours! The  JRA Distinguished Artist walked the audience thru his signature process of “Bernstein-ing” his work, and everyone loved it!

DAS Alex Bernstein begins his workshop demo at the Washington Glass School. photo by Diane Charnov

DAS Alex Bernstein begins his workshop demo at the Washington Glass School. photo by Diane Charnov

October

Washington Glass School said farewell to Studio Artist Veta Carney as she retired from her law practice and headed out west with her husband to join her son Daniel Carney’s glass studio in Arizona.

Changes at the Glass Studio are best addressed with food.

Changes at the Glass Studio are best addressed with food.

November

The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair in Chicago this past November was focused on three-dimensional art and design. Artists Tim Tate and Michael Janis were shown at Habatat Galleries space at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Seen in Chicago SOFA 2017 at Navy Pier

Also in November, the Washington Glass Studio installed the site specific commission for the William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, MD. The internally illuminated artwork was commissioned by Prince Georges County for the new community center named for William Beanes, MD, who played a pivotal role in the history of The Star-Spangled Banner.

The William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, MD.

The William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, MD.

The images were designed and selected by the community after a series of interactive meetings and finalized with the help of local council members. The LED illuminated discs were mounted to a powder coated structure that was mounted to the building structure.

December 

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Tim Tate’s definitive profile by William Warmus in American Craft Magazine.

The December/January 2018 American Craft magazine issue features a story by author/critic William Warmus explores WGS co-founder Tim Tate’s history in the glass world. Titled “The Spaces Between“,  William writes about what drives Tim’s work, and about the development (and controversy) of the Facebook “Glass Secessionism” page.

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Miami Art Week 2017 featured works by WGS crew Michael Janis, Laura Beth Konopinsk, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers & Alum Audrey Wilson.

December 2017 finished up with an amazing feat – ALL the principal staff of the Washington Glass School were featured as part of the worlds largest and most prestigious art fair – Art Basel/ Miami Art Week. The enormous art fair envelopes Miami and one cannot help but be inspired and encouraged.

Looking Ahead

2018 promises many new opportunities – looking ahead on the calendar:

New classes at the glass school! Michigan’s Habatat Galleries will again feature WGS artists in this year’s 46th International Glass Invitational in April. Michael Janis will be teaching an intensive session at Pittsburgh Glass Center in May. Tim Tate’s artwork  will be part of the LA activist art show “Into Action!curated by John Legend, Shepard Fairy, Rosario Dawson, Harry Belafonte and other notable activists, artists and museum curators. Never a dull moment!

Washington Glass School and Studio Wishes All the Best for the Holidays! May the New Year give wings to all of our dreams and let them come true in 2018!

Washington Glass School & Virginia Glass Guild Explore New Directions In Special Glass Exhibit

Erwin Timmers talks about the environmental themes that are part of his glass artwork to Gayle Paul - Curator at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center

Erwin Timmers talks about the environmental themes that are part of his glass artwork to Gayle Paul – Curator at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center. For this exhibit, PACC joins with the Chrysler Museum of Art and regional art facilities to celebrate the art of glass as Norfolk, VA hosts the Glass Art Society Conference from June 1-3, 2017.

Tying into the creativity that is part of the Glass Art Society 2017 conference in Norfolk, artists of the Washington Glass School and the Virginia Glass Guild are creating a joint exhibit at the nearby Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center (PACC). Titled “EMBRACING NARRATIVE: Artwork of the Washington Glass School and Virginia Glass Guild”, the show will feature works by members of the two glass organizations. Together these organizations promote the awareness and advancement of glass through ideas, theory, sculptural design, technology and installation. 

Audrey Wilson talks about her plasma-charged narrative assemblages.

Audrey Wilson talks about her plasma-charged narrative assemblages.

Gayle Paul, the Curator of the PACC came to the Washington Glass School this weekend to finalize selection of glass artworks. The jurors of the exhibit are Diane Wright, Curator of Glass, Chrysler Museum of Art and Sheila Giolitti, Mayer Fine Art Gallery.

Featured Washington Glass School artists include: Michael Janis, Tim Tate, and Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson, Diane Cabe, Sean Hennessey,  Allegra Marquart, Syl Mathis, Elizabeth Mears,  Debra Ruzinsky, Nancy Weisser, Erin Antognoli, Steve Durow, Jennifer Lindstrom, Sherry Selevan, and Jeff Zimmer.

Gayle Paul is intrigued by Allegra Marquart's combination of glass and textile for her sculptures.

Gayle Paul is intrigued by Allegra Marquart’s combination of glass and textile for her sculptures.

 

Embracing Narrative
Artwork of the Washington Glass School and the Virginia Glass Guild

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center
400 High Street
Portsmouth, VA 23704

March 3- June 4, 2017
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Washington Glass Studio Installs Laurel Library Public Art

The steel structure is lowered by crane onto the foundation at the new Laurel Library

The steel structure is lowered by crane onto the foundation at the new Laurel Library

Washington Glass Studio installed their outdoor sculpture at the new Laurel, Maryland library. The 16′ H tower titled “Involve Me and I Learn” has over 100 glass tiles mounted in the steel framework. The artwork’s title – attributed to Ben Franklin – references the engagement of the community. The neighborhood and the Laurel Library supporters had joined in making the individual glass panels in workshops at the Washington Glass School. The Baltimore Sun had earlier in the year covered the story of the glass quilting bee workshops.

Siteworks for the sculptural and architectural application of glass were completed and the risky business of installing the works just took place.

Audrey Wilson rises to meet the challenge.

Audrey Wilson rises to meet the challenge.

Washington Glass Studio Co-Director Erwin Timmers bolts the steel framed glass panels to the main structure.

Washington Glass Studio Co-Director Erwin Timmers bolts the steel framed glass panels to the main structure.

The panels were fitted and bolted in place and the internal LED lighting was installed. Prince George’s Art in Public Places has advised that the official opening of the stunning library is set for November 28th.laurel (2)

Washington Post Reviews Michael Janis Solo @ Littleton Gallery

The Washington Post published the following review of Michael Janis’ solo show “Echoes of Leaves and Shadows” being exhibited at the Maurine Littleton Gallery through Oct 15. Art critic Mark Jenkins  describes Michael’s skill as “extraordinary. Jenkins also enthuses that Janis’ glass artwork combines “the stateliness of stained-glass windows with the vivacity of pop art”. Have a read of the full text below:

Michael Janis. "Radiance," 2016, glass, glass powder imagery, steel; on view at Maurine Littleton Gallery. (Michael Janis/Maurine Littleton Gallery)

Michael Janis. “Radiance,” 2016, glass, glass powder imagery, steel; on view at Maurine Littleton Gallery. (Michael Janis/Maurine Littleton Gallery)

By Mark Jenkins October 8, 2016

Michael Janis

If Michael Janis worked with pencil or charcoal, his draftsmanship would be impressive. But the D.C. artist draws photorealist portraits with pulverized glass, placing the powder exactly with tiny tools. Which is extraordinary.

Most of the pieces in “Echoes of Leaves and Shadows,” at Maurine Littleton Gallery, include depictions of pretty young women. These gamines, who might be ballerinas or French New Wave stars, are rendered in granulated black glass fused by heat to clear glass sheets. The pieces aren’t just black-and-clear, though. Janis overlays and underlies patches of translucent colored glass, and often adds such 3-D glass elements as butterflies or flower petals. Aqua and orange are common in this array, among other hues. In one picture, an abstract yellow-green swirl contrasts the subject’s slightly darker green eyes.

Janis employs many variations, slicing faces into three equal parts or contrasting them with panels of textured glass. There are ceramic busts garlanded with glass leaves, and portraits embellished with near-opaque peacock- or dark-blue circles. The latter combine the stateliness of stained-glass windows with the vivacity of pop art — half medieval cathedral, half 1960s Vogue.

Michael Janis: Echoes of Leaves and Shadows On view through Oct. 15 at Maurine Littleton Gallery, 1667 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-333-9307. littletongallery.com.

USA Glass Industry Update

uroboros-sign2016 has been a year full of upheaval in the the glass industry, with the environmental concerns affecting Bullseye’s Portland, Oregon factory, and the unexpected closure of Spectrum glass.

Unfortunately, recently Uroboros Glass Company- also located in Portland- announced that they will be shutting down after almost 44 years in the business. While very sad, company owner Eric Lovell has said that the situation has become “unavoidable”, citing new environmental regulations, rising cost of materials and facilities, and his own impending retirement age as contributing factors in the decision.

Uroboros plans on discontinuing new production in early 2017, and will continue with the company’s closure in “an orderly fashion” over the next 9-12 months. It is possible that they may find a buyer for the company, but no solid plans are in the works as of yet.

On a happier note, Spectrum Glass announced that they have sold their product line to a California-based glass manufacturer, and are currently in the process of transferring ownership. They haven’t released any details regarding future product line yet, but they are working hard to make the transfer as quickly and smoothly as possible.

While Bullseye Glass has completed production line improvements and has resumed manufacturing most previously restricted colors, they still will not be able to produce chromium-bearing colors until early in the new year.

No Dim Bulbs in Lighting Class!

Erwin Timmers instructs one of the lighting class students.

Erwin Timmers instructs one of the lighting class students.

Erwin Timmer’s artistic lighting class these past few weeks brought some serious color to the studio – really brightening up the studio!

Over the three week class, students completed a number of lighting designs, ranging from pendant to wall sconces and table lamps. Great to see how each created functional art that reflected the tastes and aesthetics of each of the artists. This was certainly a class that put forth the effort in the design!

Vibha's glass design was dazzling!

Vibha’s glass design was dazzling!

Students designed and made the glass as well as assembled the mounting hardware.

Students designed and made the glass as well as assembled the mounting hardware.

Louis Comfort Tiffany would have been jealous of the glass created for the light fixture.

Louis Comfort Tiffany would have been jealous of the glass created for the light fixture.

Jerrelee loves her light fixture that relates to her artwork.

Jerrelee loves her light fixture that relates to her artwork.

Washington Glass School At S.O.F.A. Chicago 2014

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Every fall – for the past 20 years – Chicago, IL hosts the internationally acclaimed Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair (aka SOFA Chicago).  

The 21st SOFA Chicago will be held November 7 – 9, 2014 at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall where masterworks from top international galleries and dealers from numerous countries will exhibit. Opening night gala preview will be held Thursday, November 6.

Washington Glass School is represented by artists Michael Janis and Allegra Marquart at Maurine Littleton Gallery and Sean Hennessey and Tim Tate are exhibiting at Habatat Galleries Space.

Allegra Marquart, "On The Bus", 2014,  cast glass, enamel OA dimensions 48" L x  24" H.

Allegra Marquart, “On The Bus” (detail), 2014, cast glass, enamel; OA dimensions 48″ L x 24″ H. Photo by Anything Photographic

Allegra Marquart will present a number of her new wall installations. Her new works are not strictly narrative but relate to etchings the artist made years ago when she first moved to the city and began interpreting what she saw on the streets with humor and an eye for juxtaposing disparate situations and individuals.

Sean Hennessey, "The Fur-Suit of Happiness" Cast Glass, Paint, Video (Photo by Anything Photographic)

Sean Hennessey, “The Fur-Suit of Happiness” Cast Glass, Paint, Video
(Photo by Anything Photographic)

Sean Hennessey will be showing his cast glass/ mixed media panels at Habatat Galleries. His new works integrate electronics and videos into the panels.

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Tim Tate, “The Healing Polyopticon”, Poly-Vitro, Glass, Video

Tim Tate will be showing his installation “The Healing Polyopticon” – a 5 ft wide installation consisting of 16 video pieces in varying sizes of cast black frames. Each video is in the form of an eye blinking; each eye different. Surrounding this cluster of 16 video frames are cast black flowers that fills out the 5 ft wide circle . The work is based on a terminal diagnosis he received 30 years ago – and he imagined that he was being kept safe by those who passed before him – all keeping an eye on him thru portals. In this sculpture he portrays people who had effected his life in a positive way…keeping him from passing over, making him safe; imbuing him with self healing energy. This powerful sculpture will at Habatat Galleries space.

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Michael Janis, “Breathing In The Quiet” and “Waiting For The Lover’s Words”, fused glass powder imagery, glass, steel. (Photo by Anything Photographic)

Michael Janis will be showing a number of new works at Maurine Littleton Gallery space. The American Institute of Interior Designers (ASID) chose his work as part of their picks for SOFA Selectswhere highlighted pieces chosen by noted curators, designers, and critics give viewers of the fair way to navigate the huge show.

If you are going to the show – be sure to stop by and visit with the artists – all will be at the Chicago Fair!

DC Mayor Gray to Dedicate WGS Public Art Sculpture

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities invites all to a Public Art Dedication of : The Community Gateway Arch

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   On Friday, July 18, 2014 come to the Unity Health Care’s Parkside Health Center, 7:00 – 9:00 PM at 765 Kenilworth Terrace, NE Washington, DC 20019

For more information contactThe DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities:

202-724-5613 or tonya.jordan@dc.gov

Light refreshments will be served

American Craft Magazine Features Washington Glass School Artists

Check out American Craft Magazine online.

The April/May issue of American Craft Magazine is now out – within the sheets of the magazine – or at the ACC website, one can see familiar faces names and artworks.
The magazine cover lists the contents: Fossils, Claws, Fur, Chicken Legs, Fangs, Fungi, Spider Eggs and Twigs – so clearly, the magazine is all about WGS.
Marc Petrovic’s beautiful blown sculpture “Not The Brightest Bulb” is featured with an article by Glen Adamson, from London’s V & A Museum, that asks if craft can connect the viewers more to nature.

Great article by Glen Adamson on the rise of technology and the disconnect with nature.

“Mermaids Past Their Prime”photo by Pete Duvall

Tim Tate is also featured in the article by senior editor Julie Hanus, titled “More Than Human“. Julie’s article is a fun look at how artists create human/animal imagery to create compelling insights to who we are. His featured work, one of his pieces from his eries ’21st Century Sideshows’ – a mixed media reliquary titled “Mermaids Past Their Prime”. Daily Art Muse blog author Susan Lomuto was the starring actor for the video portrayal of a chain smoking world weary faded maid.

Other glass artists – Martin Janecky and Anne Wolff‘s works were in an article about Habatat Galleries upcoming 41st International Glass Invitational, which opens April 24. The Michigan gallery will have a concurrent exhibition, titled “eXpose,”at that time that includes works by our Sean Hennessey.

Getting a big spread of 8 pages, Michael Janis is profiled by Rebecca Ritzel.

Forget “Being John Malkovich” – the American Craft Magazine article is about “Becoming Michael Janis”!
sgraffito on glass, scraffito, glass frit powder drawing
photo by Robert Severi

Rebecca talks with Michael and uncovers his past life as an architect in Australia, and how, in a short amount of time, became one of leading ‘sgrafitto’ glass artists in the world.

If you get the subscription for the magazine – it should be delivered in the next few days. If you want it online – you can get the digital subscription to the magazine HERE.
Or – run right out to the newstand and demand your copy – AT ONCE!

Kiln Formed Glass History – Part 2

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Exploring Technique and Content – the ’60′s, ’70′s & ’80′s

Untitled sculpture, Mary Shaffer, fused and slumped industrial sheet glass, 1975


As part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations in honor of the 1962 Toledo Glass Workshop, the Washington Glass School blog is looking the heritage of the art movement. This is the second part in an historical overview of how fused glass (aka kiln-formed, or warm glass) fits into the contemporary Studio Art Glass Movement. Much of the information was based on published writings by
Martha Drexler Lynn, William Warmus & Beth Hylen, Richard LaLonde, Dan Schwoerer & Boyce Lundstrom and from the Corning Museum of Glass library.

The 1962 Toledo glass workshops indeed marked a watershed. After the workshops, glass moved into university and college programs and significantly into fine arts programs. After the two workshops, by 1964, (hot) glass artists were increasingly college educated in fine arts degree programs that required the same course work demanded for painting or sculpture. In the early days of the Studio Glass Movement the compelling attitude was the quest to spread the word and distance glass art from both the factory and hobbyist. Hot glass had reconstituted itself with the museum’s blessing, and had achieved a new identity.

Other aspects also had an influence on the growing art movement. The young artists were entranced by notions of an alternative lifestyle free of the establishment values of the older generation. “We were hippies, Okay? People have to understand that. No watches, no underwear, no nothing” remembers Toots Zynsky regarding the early days at Pilchuck. Learning to make art with glass, rejecting bourgeois rules, and living an anti-establishment lifestyle were irresistible and became part of the lore both of Pilchuck and of the glass movement in general.



Clipped Grass, Mary Ann “Toots” Zynsky, green tinted fused and thermo-formed glass threads, 1982


Antique collecting in the 1960’s brought about a renewed interest in stained glass. Citi
es such as Denver, CO became trading centers for stained glass windows removed from old East Coast houses and buildings. The demand for turn-of-the-century stained glass encouraged studios to create works ranging from Tiffany style reproductions to contemporary designs.

The rapid growth of the new stained glass studios across the country, brought about by the demand for stained glass, was made possible by new types of glass manufacturers and the influence of the growing Studio Glass movement and Harvey Littleton.

Ray Ahlgren, Dan Schwoerer, Boyce Lundstrom

The modern stained glass movement, started by mimicking the traditional work evolved into a very diverse art form. Boyce Lundstrom, one of the founders of Bullseye Glass Company wrote:
Our experience in the glass world pointed to a need for more colored sheet glass for the stained glass industry…(I) began working with glass in 1965, when I joined the new glass program established by Dr. Robert Fritz that year at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. At that time I was a ceramics major, studying with one of the great ceramic glaze technicians of our time, Dr. Herbert Sanders. The close correlation between the calculating and making of ceramic glazes and the process of making glass is a natural one. So, as a potter studying glaze calculation, I found it natural to apply the technology to glass, and was soon drawn by the material.
In Dr. Fritz’s program I learned to control all phases of the process of making finished blown objects. We built glass melting equipment, calculated and melted batch, formed the glass, and carried out all the cold working processes for finishing the annealed work. After my graduation from San Jose State, in 1967, I operated a ceramics and glass studio in southern California for two years before my wife and I moved to Corvallis, Oregon, in late 1969, where I blew glass for galleries and craft fairs. While participating in craft fairs and shows, I met many other glass artists who had become infatuated with hot glass in the early years of the studio blowing movement in this country. We were all struggling to support our individual studios and families, while experimenting
with new glasses and equipment.”

Two of those artists were Ray Ahlgren and Dan Schwoerer, who were partners in a glass blowing. (Ray Ahlgren started his glass career in Wisconsin in 1965. His background in ceramics, glass blowing, glass chemistry, studio fabrication and design. Daniel Schwoerer graduated from the University of Wisconsin where he also worked in the art department as graduate assistant to Professor Harvey Littleton in 1968-69. He then moved to Portland, where he set up a glassblowing studio. In 1974 the three self-described “hippie glassblowers” started Bullseye Glass Company, a small factory for making specialty sheet glass – initially focused on making colored sheets for use in stained glass.)


Ray Ahlgren, fused glass tiles, plywood, 1982


Said Boyce: “
For the next four years, the pressing demands of an infant company consumed all of my time. In 1978 I began designing independent stained glass panels, executed for me by more capable craftspersons. Since, at Bullseye, we produced mixed colors of glass daily, and had control of the formulas, it seemed a foregone conclusion that we could make sheet glass with similar coefficients of expansion.


Boyce Lundstrom, red glass fused bowl, 1979


The thought process went something like this: if sheet glasses had the same coefficient of expansion, they could be cut into shapes and fused together. So, I started experimenting in 1979 or 1980–I don’t know exactly when because the process was slow at first, fraught with many failures and just a few successes. If there was one memorable breakthrough, it was the application of the method of testing for stress with a polarimeter (from glass blowing) to glasses fused to a clear sheet glass with a constant coefficient of expansion.

When making sheet glass it is not important to have a constant coefficient of expansion among all the glasses. Single colors can all be different and mixed colors only have to be within one or two coefficient points of one another. In glass blowing it is not uncommon to use glasses together that vary in coefficient of expansion by four or five points, because the casing process holds the glass together. But when fusing glass flat, the glasses must be very close in coefficients. Establishing a clear glass as a constant, and then formulating the melt for all colors to fit that constant, made the contemporary glass fusing movement possible.

The ability to fuse glass, by taking it through the complete process of heating, holding and annealing, then checking the finished results with an accurate test, really stimulated my dreams of unlimited possibilities. I saw kiln fired glass as the wave of the future, providing freedom for all those who would like to be freed of the lead lines! Tiles, windows, bowls, sculptures, and building facades could all be made with fused sheet glass… By 1981, I became adamant about producing glass for the fusing market at Bullseye Glass. My remaining partner, Dan Schwoerer, supported me in my one-man campaign to make fusing available to everyone. During the next few years we succeeded in making available a line of fusing compatible glasses. By 1983 we were teaching fusing in diverse parts of the world, establishing a line of products and working with kiln manufacturers to get kilns designed for glass on the market.”

The influence by the hot glass education and artwork by the artists that came from the universities now teaching glass artwork outlined the directions that warm or kiln-formed glass would take. In the late 1960s there was the emphasis on technology and education. The glass artwork was part of broader international craft movement of the 1960s in which clay, fiber, wood, and metal are used for creative expression.


Gyes Arcade, Christopher Wilmarth, flat and curved plate glass elements, 1969

In 1969, glass was rarely seen in contemporary art, especially in large-scale sculpture. However, the American Studio Glass Movement was gathering national momentum. Many studio glass artists looked at contemporary sculpture, such as Gyes Arcade, for inspiration on how glass might be treated artistically.

At the 1972 National Sculpture Conference in Lawrence, Kansas, Harvey Littleton introduces his phrase “Technique is cheap” that continues to influence artists. The dichotomy between the sculptor in search of form (the “technique is cheap” attitude) vs. the craftsman striving to create a perfectly executed functional object is a strong motivation for many artists.


Bowl #2, Mary T Warren, glass, wire, 1978

The explosion of glass schools and studios in the 1970s and 1980s paves the way for a new industry of glass tools, equipment and glass suppliers.

Glass kilns originally were ceramic kilns with cones that required watching the stage and temperature of the progress. With the programmable computer controls, the fused glass industry was revolutionized. In the early 1980s Spectrum Glass introduced System 96, and Bullseye Glass introduces its “Tested Compatible” glass designed specifically for fusing.

Mosaic Bowl, Klaus Moje, glass, 1978

The work by glass artists pursue narrative, political, gender issues and create more multimedia work, combining glass with other materials (wood, metal, paint, stone). The “Art vs. craft” debate pushes aside technical issues.

Blast Off To Oblivion, Richard LaLonde, fused glass panel, 1983

By the mid-1980′s there was an explosion in alternatives to hot glass: pâte de verre, lampworking, kilnworking, coldworking, even microwaved glass jewelry, and women play an increasingly prominent role in the glass movement. With the increase in interest and new glass specific art galleries emerging, art museums begin to exhibit glass in contemporary art sections – and the interest in glass art helps glass magazines flourish.

Charles Parriott, glass, enamels in sgraffito technique, ca 1983

Pajaritos en la Cabeza (Little birds in the head) and Cabellos de Angel (Angel hair), Toots Zynsky, fused and thermo-formed glass threads, 1988

In the summer of 1971, Dale Chihuly brought a small group of his friends and a few RISD students, including Toots Zynsky, to Washington State. There, she participated in the founding and early development of Pilchuck Glass School. By early 1972, she was making installations with slumped plate glass. In 1973, she began experimenting with video and performance works that incorporated hot and cold glass with artist Buster Simpson. Her experimental work—which was characteristic of much of the art being made in the 1970s—was important for the development of glass as a material to explore issues in contemporary art.

Throughout the 1980′s art glass collectors sought to build collections based less on investment value and more on the inherent worth of the artworks and auctions of contemporary glass begin at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The camaraderie of collectors and friendly competition for the glass artworks lead to a relatively stable market and the development of a glass community. In 1985, Glass Weekend begins at Wheaton Village, Millville, NJ. The biennial seminar brings together leading contemporary glass artists, collectors, galleries, and museum curators.

Opposing Fields, Charles Parriott, glass, silk-screened decal imagery, 1982

As it became more acceptable for artists to use of glass as a fine-art medium, there began a more expansive use of glass as a component – there was more multimedia work, where glass was combed with other materials (wood, metal, paint, stone), and a perceived reaction against the “beauty” of glass. Artists continued to pursue narrative, political, gender issues as expressed in the glass.

In 1989 the late Dan Klein, former director of Christie’s auction house and studio glass collector noted that hot glass, which had “enjoyed what seems in retrospect a disproportionate degree of popularity during the 1960’s lost ground to other techniques, until it was felt during the 1980’s that it had been almost completely phased out”.

An interesting note to end this segment of the history of fused glass within the context of the American Studio Glass Movement.

Click HERE to jump to Part 1 of the Washington Glass School blog about the History of Fused Glass.