Glass Sparks: Erwin Timmers

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In honor of Earth Day, today’s artist profile is about eco-artist Erwin Timmers.

Erwin has become one of the area’s leading “green artists”. Recycling, waste, the environment and how they relate to society are recurring themes in his work – all of which he blames on his Dutch heritage. Erwin’s main medium is one of the least recycled building materials; float glass or window glass, and he has had to develop new techniques to work with this material.

Originally from Amsterdam, Erwin Timmers moved to California, graduating from Santa Monica College for Design Art and Architecture in 1995. Erwin’s artwork and sculpture has always incorporated recycled materials, and often integrated lighting elements. In 1999 he came to the Washington DC area and along with a new home came a new passion: Glass – creating the perfect marriage of metal and light. Combining this with found and recycled metal, his work carries strong environmental themes.

“Mr Cobrahead”, recycled materials, cast recycled glass

“Love Me, Love Me Not”, recycled steel, cast recycled glass, neon

Seeking to further his knowledge on using recycled glass, Erwin soon found there were few local options that taught glass techniques and recycled glass processes. And with little information available, Erwin became a pioneer in the field, developing his own kiln schedules. Fate would have it that he met up with Tim Tate, who was then starting the foundations for a glass school in Washington, DC. With his experimental approach and his easygoing, accessible teaching attitude, Erwin and Tim started the Washington Glass School in 2001. Erwin developed a number of courses that integrate his love of the materials and his environmental philosophies. His sustainable design knowledge has been sought by other glass schools, and besides courses here at the Washington Glass School, he has been teaching across the country, spreading the word about eco-friendly art.

Erwin Timmers chats with Italian glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra.

Erwin has also become a leading consultant in LEED Certified artwork. He has received multiple public art commissions and is also featured in numerous private collections. The EPA had commissioned Erwin and the Washington Glass Studio to create an educational sculpture for the courtyard at the EPA’s Washington, DC headquarters.

Low-Impact Demonstration Project, Ariel Rios Courtyard, Washington, DC. Quinn Evans Architects, John Shorb Landscaping

Erwin Timmers and Evan Morgan installing recycled glass panels.

Recently completed architectural projects include recycled glass works for Prince George’s County Courthouse and for Fox Architects and he is currently working on an eco-friendly project for the new Safeway in Bethesda, MD. Erwin’s expertise in the field of environmental art is sought out by the media, with interviews on local news stations, including this video where Erwin’s demonstration of tempered glass did not go quite as planned. The Washington Post Magazine has just interviewed Erwin for an upcoming article on recycling, scheduled to come out this June. His artwork is featured in several books, notably “Art Glass Today” by Jeffrey Snyder and “Ideas for Creative Reuse” by Garth Johnson. Two more books that include work by Erwin are due out this Spring/Summer.

“Self Scrutiny”, cast recyled glass
photos: Anything Photographic

“Self Scrutiny” detail

Erwin’s environmental focused artwork has found an audience, from Miami International Art Fair to local and regional art gallery shows, including and upcoming engagement at Project 4 Gallery this summer. His work showcases the possibility and beauty of recycled material, while encouraging the viewer to consider his or her environmental impact.

“What We Leave Behind” cast recycled glass, steel.

Using glass salvaged from a Virginia office building refurbishment, disposable technology and ephemera from recent decades are expressed as though discovered from a future archaeological dig.


“What We Leave Behind” detail, 2000′s

photo by Anything Photographic

His work is not always appreciated in the manner he expected – a feature on his work on the Artist-a-Day website prompted viewers to ask if the work was made of Jello.

Erwin will be one of the artists featured in the upcoming LongView Gallery show Artists of the Washington Glass School: The First Ten Years.

Washington Glass School: The First 10 Years
LongView Gallery
1234 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC May 19 – June 19,2011
Artist Reception, May 19th, 6:30-8:30 PM

For other glass artist profiles

Diane Cabe
Sean Hennessey
Elizabeth Mears

Teddie Hathaway

Robert Kincheloe

Jeff Zimmer
Allegra Marquart

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

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Kris Coronado interviews Erwin Timmers

The Washington Post Magazine columnist Kris Coronado spent the day in the Washington Glass School this week, interviewing Erwin Timmers for an upcoming article on recycling and environmentally conscious artwork.

Above & Below: Washington Post photographer Benjamin Tankersley photos artwork made from recycled glass components.

Erwin talked wth Kris about his background in sustainable design, and how the growing awareness of the limits to our natural resources has led to a greater appreciation and interest in work made with environmentally responsible materials. Post photographer Benjamin Tankersley set up a full photo backdrop to properly document Erwin’s eco-artwork. The Washington Post article is due out in the paper in early June.

Erwin Timmers Goes To The Queen City

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Our “guru of green“, Erwin Timmers will be teaching at Cincinnati’s Brazee Street School of Glass, spreading the word of recycled glass artwork.
This April 16 & 17, Erwin will have the students explore using recycled glass to make sculptural pieces, architectural elements and tableware. The workshop will cover a variety of techniques including fusing, casting, and slumping.
Click HERE to jump to
Brazee Street Studios website.

Production of Cast Art Glass for Public Art Project

>Readers of the WGS Blog are familiar with the Public Art Project currently underway for Safeway Supermarket’s new LEED Certified building in Bethesda, MD.

Original late 1970′s Safeway in Bethesda, MD

being replaced with :

New LEEDs Certified building designed by Rounds VanDuzer Architects

Construction of the steel framework is underway & the kilns have been firing nonstop to make the “herb-leaf” inspired bas-relief kilnformed casting.


Layout sketch of a typical architectural bay.

Erwin Timmers removes the kilnfused glass from the molds.

Matt Duffy & Erwin Timmers check the clarity of the glass (mind you, it must not be too much and not be too little – it needs to be just right.)


Erwin check the glass for evenness of form and to make sure the panels will lay flat within the steel framework.

We will post other photos of the process soon!

UPDATE: Click HERE to jump to photos of finished project.

Recycled Glass Art Workshop

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What We Leave Behind (detail) Erwin Timmers
cast recycled glass

Renowned Eco Artist Erwin Timmers will lead the recycled glass Going Green workshop this coming President’s Day Weekend.

Green up your life by doing something creative to help the environment!

This class is an exploration into using recycled glass to make sculptural pieces, architectural elements, and tableware. The class will delve into multiple techniques, including casting, fusing and slumping. Glass chemistry, coloration, and firing temperatures will be explained for each particular application. It is a fantastic way to learn aspects of any warm glass work while focusing on recycling!

Once you start down the path of recycled glass, you will see more and more opportunities for experimentation around you. No prior experience is necessary – you are encouraged to bring in materials you’d like to try…and you will leave with several very cool items!

Erwin Timmers

Going Green Class 1043
Dates Sat/Sun/Mon on Feb 19, 20 & 21
Time 10am – 4pm

Tuition $400

Erwin is one of the area’s leading “green artists”. Recycling, waste and how they relate to society are recurring themes in his work. Erwin’s main medium is one of the least recycled materials; float glass or window glass, and he has had to develop new techniques to exploit the properties of this material. His approach to art is multifaceted, incorporating metalwork, innovative lighting and glass design.

New Work by Erwin Timmers

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Self-Scrutiny by Erwin Timmers
24″ x 40″ x 8″ cast recycled glass, steel

photos by anythingphoto.net

detail showing interconnection of cast glass rods and knots

“Self-Scrutiny” is a new wall-mounted artwork by Erwin Timmers made from cast recycled glass and steel pipe. Erwin casts recycled glass into twisted tube-like shapes that he joins and creates forms with steel connectors. On the wall they form a maze that creates positive and negative spaces while highlighting the complex qualities of recycled glass.

detail showing depth of work

Glass for the piece is recycled – sourced from windows, household vases, and bottles. Unlike the glass made specifically for craft and art use, industrial glass is difficult to re-melt. Erwin has developed new techniques to exploit the characteristics of this material.

Erwin writes of his work: “My work references environmental issues of concern to me – primarily I see my artistic process as being involved with the process of recycling to create art…”

“I choose to recycle or reinterpret not only for reflection on environmental issues, but also for fun, play, and ultimately art. My work showcases the possibility and beauty of recycled material, while encouraging the viewer to consider their environmental impact.”

Erwin feels that one of the artist’s most important roles is to reveal the hidden value inherent within a particular object. His work encourages a re-examination of objects around us. By framing the object in a new way, one is challenged to rethink the value of everyday objects and one is encouraged to find aesthetic pleasure from what might seem to be the most mundane and ordinary of things.

In today’s society, the philosophy exists that once something has fulfilled its use, we should throw it away rather than try to find another use for it. Yet, finding new uses for discarded objects is one way to breathe life back into the objects around us. To see art where others see trash is one thing, but to lead others to see that art for themselves is what artists have been engaged in since the turn of the century.

Click HERE to jump to Erwin’s website.

Recycled Glass Art in Space City

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Eco artist Erwin Timmers just returned from spreading the word about fusing recycled glass into artwork at Houston, TX’ Hot Glass Houston studios.

The workshop was great fun, the class was enthusiastic and the facilities were first rate. Erwin said that he is looking forward to returning to H-Town (especially if its a cold winter).

Student working with recycled window glass.

Recycled glass after firing.

Art and Architecture: Public Art Project

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Safeway Bethesda
Rounds VanDuzer Architects

Safeway has started construction of a new supermarket in Bethesda, MD. The new store will be a LEED certified supermarket as Safeway is committed to the greening of its stores. Besides going green, the supermarket will be built to what Safeway calls the urban “lifestyle” market, with high-quality urban design. Safeway is one of North America’s largest supermarket chains with more than 1,700 stores.

As part of the project, Safeway commissioned the Washington Glass Studio to integrate artwork into the architectural façade of the building. The wall of artwork will activate the street along the Bradley Street façade, and marks the first public artwork commission by the national supermarket chain for its stores.



The cast recycled glass and steel artwork is integrated into the architectural façade.


Over 30 feet long and 9 feet high, the glass and steel artwork will be a strong element located in Bethesda. The new building design will act as a “civic gateway” to Bethesda‘s Central Business District (CBD).

Responding to the architectural design by Rounds VanDuzer Architects the large scale artwork will feature colorful cast recycled glass made from glass salvaged from the original Safeway supermarket on the same site. Ecoartist Erwin Timmers had slogged thru the site demolition, removing glass for the artwork. Erwin’s integration of reconfigured and recycled components has made him a leader in sustainable design and he continues his work in multidisciplinary LEED projects.


Cast recycled window glass sample of custom “fresh herb” design for Safeway.

Above is the “bay leaf” pattern.


UPDATE: Click HERE to jump to images of finished project.


Timmers in Texas

>Our Guru of GreenErwin Timmers – will be spreading the word of eco-art to the great free State of Texas. Erwin will be teaching a Recycled Glass workshop at Hot Glass Houston.

Erwin’s class will be in Mid-October and the class will cram as many techniques and ways of kilncasting recycled glass as possible!

Don’t Mess With Texas.

For those of you who aren’t in the Lone Star State – you can take the class here at the Washington Glass School – click HERE to jump to the class description.