American Craft Magazine Features Washington Glass School

American Craft magazine June/July 2013

The American Craft Council(ACC) is a national, nonprofit educational organization founded with a mission to promote understanding and appreciation of contemporary American craft. Their programs include the bimonthly magazine, American Craft, annual juried shows, various workshops, seminars and conferences, and more.

The June/July 2013 issue of American Craft Magazine showcases the cast glass work being made for the U.S. Library of Congress Adams Building. Julie K. Hanus – American Craft’s senior editor and Perry A. Price  -  the ACC’s director of education had come to the school in April and made a report on the process and the artists involved. 

From the magazine: The original doors were designed in 1939 by Lee Lawrie, the sculptor whose Atlas graces Rockefeller Center. They’re massive bronze works, depicting 13 mythological and historical figures of language and learning. Over time, they had begun to fail, straining at the hinges, and didn’t meet modern building codes. Rather than altering the historic doors to address these issues, the Architect of the Capitol made a bold decision; in addition to conserving the Lawrie doors, they would reinterpret these unique Adams Building features in glass.

Jeff Wallin and Ray Ahlgren of Fireart Glass in Portland, OR casting the glass panels. Photo by Charlie Lieberman

Review of each of the LOC cast glass panels with the Architect of the Capitol. L-R Paul Zimmerman/HITT Contracting, William Warmus/Art critic, Tim Tate, Michael Janis, Kevin Hildebrand/AOC, Erwin Timmers.

The doors began installation in the spring of 2013 and the entry areas began to transform.

From the interior of East facing building lobby.
The exterior of the first set of six pairs of doors.

The magazine will be on the stands soon – and is online right now! – Click HERE to jump to the American Craft Council website.

Washington Glass Studio team L-R Tim Tate, Sean Hennessey, Michael Janis, Audrey Wilson, Erwin Timmers

Architect of the Capitol Blogs On New Cast Glass Doors

The AOC inspects the cast glass interpretation of the ‘Cadmus sculpture maded from the original bronze doors of the Library of Congress.

Cadmus was credited by the ancient Greeks with introducing the original Alphabet or Phoenician alphabet.

The US Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is responsible to the United States Congress and the Supreme Court for the maintenance, operation, development and preservation of 17.4 million square feet of buildings and more than 460 acres of land throughout Capitol Hill. The AOC also provides professional expertise on the preservation of architectural and artistic elements entrusted to its care, and provides recommendations concerning design, construction and maintenance of the facilities and grounds.
The AOC blogs about the new cast glass doors for the Library of Congress, now being installed. 

The original doors, designed by noted American artist, Lee Lawrie in 1938, feature high-relief sculptures of (mythical and real) world figures that have contributed to the written word and communication.

Click HERE to jump to the US AOC blog post.

The Process: Taking a Mold From Historic Bronze Doors

With the Memorial Day Weekend here, a blog posting that touches on themes of American Art & history is in order.

Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Adams Building

The Process looks at how the Washington Glass Studio artists are recreating the original, historic bronze doors from the Library of Congress (LOC) Adams Building in kiln-cast glass. 
As mentioned in an earlier post, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) oversees this landmark building, and they sought out ways to provide up-to-date functional aspects for their structures, all while balancing the requirement for maintaining the artistic legacy of its buildings – a daunting task in an ever changing world. Their design for the LOC Adams building was to have the historic bronze entry doors (that could not be brought up to code) set in the “open” position, and install new code-compliant functional glass doors for the public access – with the glass doors designed to reference the original door sculptures. (Click HERE to jump to link post of sculpted bronze door features.) Washington Glass Studio is creating the new cast glass panels, and this edition of The Process looks at how the molds are being taken from the original doors in-situ. 

Sean Hennessey, the master caster, sets up his mold making equipment and preps the doors.

The LOC was very concerned that the mold taking process could adversely impact the patina of the bronze doors, so before any work on the doors was completed, testing of the materials and release agents were conducted on an inconspicuous section of the backside of the doors.

A section of the door backside was tested for any reaction to the materials.
The sample came off with no residue or impact to the original  bronze finish.
Given the go-ahead, Sean enjoys a day in the sun.
The bronze door area surrounding the bas-relief is masked off. 
Care is taken for the surrounding area. Sean shown here assisted by Erin Cumbo.
The layering of the silicone rubber mold material starts.
The mold is allowed to set-up until firm, and then peeled off.
“Mother Mold” material is added to give structural strength to the casting.
The finished rubber mold.

The molds will later be used to create the original forms for the kiln-casting process – more about the glass casting process in later postings!.