Washington Glass School’s Connection to Groundhog Day Movie

Still from 1993 movie classic "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray.

Still from 1993 movie classic “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray.

Love the Hollywood classic movie Groundhog Day? Its the one where Bill Murray plays weatherman Phil Connors who is trapped in a time loop covering the annual groundhog day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

Deborah Ruzinsky, superstar caster.

Deborah Ruzinsky, superstar caster.

 At last year’s seminar on kiln casting techniques, Washington Glass School lecturer & artist Deborah Ruzinsky, while talking of her storied past life making models for the US film industry told us of her contribution to the 1993 movie.


Deborah Ruzinsky in the studio ca. 1990

Back in the early ’90’s Deborah was a project leader for Cinnabar, a Los Angeles fabricator of sets and scenic elements for film, museums and entertainment institutions. Deb’s background of mold-making, casting, CNC machining, Plastic vacuforming and fabrication, foam carving, sculpting, scale model building, and organic prop construction had her making props and models for an impressive roster of films, commercials and music videos. giphy


Filming the giant scale model clock.

One of her projects was the creation of the digital flip clock used for the “Groundhog Day” movie closeups; the “real” clock would not give the kind of definition wanted by the directors – as the camera size was large, a larger-than-life scale was needed to show the detail.

Photos taken by Deborah Ruzinsky of the filming process.

Photos taken by Deborah Ruzinsky of the filming process.

Deb also worked on Michael Jackson’s video “Smooth Criminal” – part of his anthology film “Moonwalker”. In the film, Michael Jackson plays a ’30’s era gangster who avenges kidnapped children and transforms into a giant robot. In the video, Michael Jackson performs a seemingly impossible forward lean. 

Deb Ruzinsky sets up the Michael Jackson robot armature.

Deb Ruzinsky sets up the Michael Jackson robot armature.

Deborah continued to use and broaden her skills in mold making; she later became a University level educator and was the Visiting Asst. Professor of Glass at RIT for 2008-2009.

Besides teaching glass art and history, Debra is currently the creative director of MNCPPC’s design and fabrication studio. 

Model during film shoot.

Model of Michael Jackson-bot during film shoot.


Groundhog Day!


the shadows that have been seen, cannot be unseen

Our Beginner’s Glass Class have produced some awesome work – like the cast glass artwork above, made by a student that came in from Punxsutawney, PA.

Using her mind’s eye memory of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog in blue is a timely and striking piece.

Phil – considered to be the world’s most famous prognosticating rodent – is supposed to emerge from his home on Gobbler’s Knob, near Punxsutawney, and if he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an early spring.

From the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day
Phil Connors (Bill Murry character): This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!

Here’s to the dream of spring!