Washington Glass School Origins

The 9/11 anniversary always puts everyone in the Washington Glass School in a reflective mood.

Washington Glass School was originally named Meltdown

Originally named “Meltdown” an original class schedule.

Washington Glass School started in 2001 (the original name of the school was “Meltdown”) with its first class scheduled for September 13th, 2001, at the Millennium Arts Center in SW Washington, DC.

After the tragedy of 9/11, Director Tim Tate and Erwin Timmers contacted the students – sure that no-one was going to go to a glass class in Washington, DC. All the students asked that the class continue – as they wanted some sense of normalcy and wanted to work at creating something. 

Artist Diane Cooper Cabe was a student in the first class. Said Diane : "Being at Meltdown during that stressful, sad time with warm-hearted folks and creative work to do helped us all heal."

Artist Diane Cooper Cabe was a student in the first class. Said Diane : “Being at Meltdown during that stressful, sad time with warm-hearted folks and creative work to do helped us all heal.” Photo circa 2002.

 

The School started strong – with early student exhibitions covered by the Washington Post and Washington Times. Classes continued thru the years with some great glass and art instructors: Liz Mears, Lucartha Kohler, Sean HennesseyJoseph Cavalieri, Allegra Marquart, Bert Weiss and Debra Ruzinsky. Workshops by glass superstars Judith Schaechter and Therman Statom.  

Tim Tate (L), Erwin Timmers (Center L) talk with a student about glass and steel sculpture. Circa 2001.

Tim Tate (L), Erwin Timmers (Center L) talk with a student about glass and steel sculpture. Photo circa 2001.

Many of the students and teaching assistants have went on to open their own studios and become renown artists in their own right – including Cheryl Derricotte, Jeff Zimmer, Teddie Hathaway, Audrey Wilson, Laura Beth Konopinski and (later a Co-Director of WGS) Michael Janis.

In 2003, the school was reorganized and moved to the Washington Sculpture on Half Street in SE. Renamed “The Washington Glass School” remained at that location until the city used eminent domain to clear the area (and demolish the building) to make room for the new Nationals baseball stadium.

Washington Glass School circa 2004.

Washington Glass School circa 2004.

In 2006, The Washington Glass School moved to Mount Rainier, MD, and to its current facility in 2007.

We look back on the memories of the past 18 years with a bittersweet mixture of pride, sentiment, and fondness for those days and love for those who have passed on. 

And then take a deep breath and get back on to work.

A 2002 Washington Post newspaper article about the glass program - features Cheryl Derricotte and Erwin Timmers.

A 2002 Washington Post newspaper article about the glass program – features Cheryl Derricotte and Erwin Timmers.

US Library of Congress’ New Cast Sculptural Glass Doors

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Aerial view of US Capitol on the Mall, Washington, DC. Library of Congress is center bottom of photo.

The Washington Glass Studio (WGS) has started the creation of the new cast sculptural glass doors for the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, DC. The design of the project started in 2004, when the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) first asked WGS about advise on their initial proposal to replace the original historic bronze doors of the LOC Adams Building, as the doors required security and changes to be code-compliant. The AOC also sought to reference the artistic heritage of the original doors in this important United States building.

One of the original bronze door pairs by sculptor Lee Lawrie

The original (11′-0″H) bronze doors had functional issues and will be retained in their present hold-open position, recessed into architectural niches. The 16 sculpted bronze doors feature high-relief sculptures by American artist Lee Lawrie, whose best known work is the architectural sculpture on and around New York’s Rockefeller Center. Lawrie’s bronze doors were designed to commemorate the history of the written word, depicting gods of writing as well as real-life Native American Sequoyah. 

Lee Lawrie,  1877-1963,  American sculptor, best known for his architectural work at NY’s Rockefeller Center, especially for the free-standing “Atlas” sculpture.
Ogma and Sequoyah, sculpted bronze figures by Lee Lawrie. Door detail, Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, DC.
The original bronze figures depict:

The new door design incorporates cast glass panels mounted within a bronze framework,  incorporating current egress and security requirements. The kilnformed sculptural glass will be made from molds taken off the original door sculptures. Using clear Bullseye glass to cast, the sculpted glass panels will then be laminated to tempered glass for safety. The new glass doors will create a contemporary luminosity to the building entrances, while keeping the character of the historic landmark structure.

original bronze doors - east side  (top)
Design of new bronze and cast glass doors – west side (bottom)

The scale of the project has prompted a collaboration between Washington Glass Studio and Fireart Glass Studio in Portland, OR. The project “dream-team” includes (Bullseye Glass co-founder) Ray Ahlgren, Erwin Timmers, Michael Janis, Tim Tate and Sean Hennessey. 
Master mold caster, Sean Hennessey, has started the project, creating the molds from the existing bronze doors in-situ. Some photos of that process will be posted later.