Report From Penland School of Craft

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Penland School of Craft is a

center for craft education located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

Tim Tate along with Sean Hennessey and  Rob Kincheloe have just returned from teaching a class at North Carolina’s Penland School Of Craft for a fall session titled: 21st Century Reliquaries. Here are some comments and photos from the class.

The glass studio at Penland.

The guys said they hit the ground running on Monday working doing demonstrations on Rubber Mold Making, Wax Casting, Plaster/Silica Mold Making, Lost wax, Dry Plaster Casting, Painting Glass, Cutting Glass, Glass etching, Flameworking. 

Sean Hennessey outlines the process for Dry Plaster Casting to create bas-relief imagery.
Robert Kincheloe shows how wax components are used to create forms in the Lost Wax process.

The WGS team talked through ideas with students, help shape the directions of work, encouraged, excited, and admired all their interest and energy. 

Tim Tate outlines the process for creating personal reliquaries.
The class learned new techniques and worked at making artwork from the objects made.
Penland Boardmember Glen Hardymon shows off his new glass slippers made in the lost wax process.
Some surprises for the class – a special flamework demo by

Simone Crestani.

The class techniques taught included pretty much everything except glass blowing. But since the absolutely incredible glass artist Pablo Soto was teaching a glass blowing class in the next room, he had his class make domes for the reliquary class.

Pablo Soto’s hot glass class blew the glass for the domes.

After the techniques were taught, learned, and employed, the part of the class where artists pulled it all together was explored – making the reliquaries. Stories of regret were created, stories of anger, stories of triumph, religion, lamenting the death of bees, cheering the death of squirrels, issues of money, sexuality, and hope were all created. 

After the students created their works, a “Show & Tell” exhibit.

Yes, thats a real (taxidermied) squirrel with a glass hand grenade.
The class made and presented Tim with a special reliquary. The “F” inside refers to Tim’s prolific use of ‘f-bombs’ in his banter.

All in all a fantastic experiencefor all involved – we’d highly recommend taking a class there!

Dragging From He to She -or- "How did Michael become Micaela?"

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The wax figures show how our butchie-boy Michael Janis would look like as a girly-girl.

Washington Glass School blog outlines the transformation in “The Process” series.

Bit of back story  - Tim Tate is working on new cast glass sculptures and he often models the imagery on objects that he is compelled by. Tim had made a casting of Washington Glass School co-director Michael Janis previously, created to be an element in the collaborative work that he and Marc Petrovic had made in their work Seven Deadly Sins - as the top finial to the sin of  “Envy”.

Tim Tate & Marc Petrovic “Envy”

Tim wanted to create a cast glass, and he uses the lost wax process to form his elements. As the scale was similar, the original mold of Michael’s head was correct, but he needed to transform from dude to dudette. 

Michael Janis’ mugshot.

A wax mold of the original “Michael” undergoes ‘the chop’ to the has the extraneous bits – losing his soul patch and porkpie hat.

Original clay figure of Michael’s head.
Michael’s head as cast in green glass in  top finial to “Envy”

The hat is replaced with a perky new ‘do, the lips are made fuller, and Michael’s chiseled features softened.

The wax head is modified, with a new perky ‘do replacing the pork pie hat. And the soul patch is removed as the lips become softer and fuller.

The new wax Micaela is covered in plaster/silica and the wax melted out. The mold is then filled with glass and fired in the kiln. After annealing, the plaster is removed, and Micaela is revealed in her glory.

The new head in wax. Next, a plaster/silica slurry is poured around the head, hardened and the wax melted out. The form is then loaded into a kiln and glass melted into the void.
After firing, the molds are removed and the glass divested.
The new Michael… or is it Micaela?

 Other artists have dabbled in cross-dressing – notably:

Mick Jagger,  Andy Warhol,  Bugs Bunny

Ok – to finish out the blog post – The Kinks performing “Lola”

In The Studio, Casting Some Flowers

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Gaffer Glass Crystal casting billets being set out for  kiln firing into lost wax molds.

It is great to see Robert Kincheloe working from the Washington Glass Studio, making some lost wax components. Here are some photos of Rob at work, creating many little flowers in the lost wax process.

Rob makes new elements by pouring melted wax into the silicone rubber  forms and letting the was set.
After the wax sets up, Rob pours a plaster/silica mix around and after the plaster hardens, he melts out the wax. The forms are then cleaned and glass is placed into the reservoir and are shown here inside the kiln, awaiting their fate once the kiln heats up.
Rob recounts his adventures & triumphs at Artomatic.

The Process: National Geographic’s Environment Award

>This posting is the first of a new feature for the Washington Glass School blog: The Process’.
The occasional series will present a photo documentation of a project from start (or at least when we remembered to get a camera going) to finish, highlighting the steps, process and techniques involved. Mistakes, dramas, and screw-ups will be magically deleted from the documentation postings, naturally.

Our first of the series is a focus on the making of National Geographic’s newest award – the ‘National Geographic Arts Ambassador for the Environment Award’ . The recipient for the inaugural award is musician Jack Johnson.

Uber-mellow singer-songwriter-surfer-filmmaker Jack Johnson has dedicated himself to environmental causes, including educational initiatives and promoting eco-friendly touring in the music industry.

Musician and environmental activist Jack Johnson was to receive the newly created “Arts Ambassador for the Environment Award,” presented to an individual in the entertainment field who has demonstrated leadership in environmental and cultural conservation by elevating issues of sustainability and inspiring audiences to care about the planet. Jack Johnson grew up surfing and playing guitar in Hawaii. He released his first album in 2001 and, in the last ten years, has released 5 more albums that have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. In 2003, Jack and his wife Kim founded the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Kokua Festival to support environmental education in Hawaii’s schools and communities. In 2008, Jack donated 100% of his tour profits to establish the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, an endowment founded by Jack and Kim Johnson to support environmental, art and music education worldwide. These tour profits, along with Johnson’s personal charitable activities, have resulted in millions donated to charity since 2001.

In keeping with the environmental conscious theme, the National Geographic Society asked for an award that was made from recycled glass, and a number of designs were studied.


As the award was to be yearly, the concepts had to allow for art ambassadors that worked in areas of interest such as “oceans” or “forests” or “wildlife” and be able to relate equally to those themes. Early on, a globe shape was favored by the National Geographic award committee. Recycled float (window) glass was to be cast using the lost wax process. The National Geographic committee stipulates that the cast glass globe be removable, and options for the support base are explored.

The Process:

Spraying the clay original with a mold release agent.


Pouring the rubber mold compound around the original clay form.


After setting up – preparing to cut open the rubber mold and remove the clay form. After removal of the clay, melted wax is poured into the rubber mold, and a wax copy of that form is removed.


The wax original.


The wax original is coated with with layers of a plaster/silica mix, building up the form until a solid covering is achieved.


The plaster/silica form is allowed to set up. Once hardened, the wax is melted out – the essence of the ‘lost wax’ process.


Checking the mold for any wax residue.


Recycled float glass is cleaned and made ready for casting.


The molds are loaded into the electric kilns and glass placed into ceramic pot reservoirs. The glass globes go through a six day annealing cycle.


After the glass is cooled, the forms are removed from the kilns.


The molds are broken open, being mindful of the glass contained within.


Chipping away at the plaster mold.


The glass is cleaned and coldworked. Rough spots are ground and polished to a shine.


Robert Kincheloe evaluates the level of shine on the glass globe continents.


While the cast glass globe is being coldworked, the base for the globe and the award nameplate is being created. A custom ceramic mold is shaped and fired. A flat blank made from recycled glass is fused and made ready to slump into the ceramic mold.


The glass base is fired in the kiln and coldworked to receive the glass globe.

The base is fitted with a clear gasket to prevent chipping of glass.


Studio photos of the award and of the evening were promised by National Geographic – we will post once we get the shots!

About the National Geographic award night:

The theme of the National Geographic’s inaugural “Evening of Exploration” celebration was “Oceans,” and the event was attended by an all-star cast of explorers and other luminaries, including newly appointed National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence filmmaker James Cameron and marine ecologist Enric Sala, as well as other Explorers-in-Residence who presented the evening’s awards: oceanographer Robert Ballard, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, wildlife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert and population geneticist Spencer Wells.

In keeping with the environmental theme – the appetizers were made from “invasive species” – like snakehead fish sushi.

Besides Jack Johnson, the other honorees included: Environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad and the late underwater photographer Wes Skiles were named “Explorers of the Year,” a new award presented in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in exploring and documenting the Blue Holes of the Bahamas in 2010. The National Geographic “Chairman’s Award” was presented to IBM for significantly advancing knowledge of the world through its research partnership with National Geographic on the Genographic Project, which is mapping the migratory history of humans.

The master of ceremonies was Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s lead political anchor. Following the awards presentation, Johnson performed songs for the crowd.

Jack Johnson performing at the National Geographics award gala.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit National Geographic’s Explorer programs, comprising the Explorers-in-Residence, Fellows and Emerging Explorers. The “Evening of Exploration” was the culmination of the two-day National Geographic 2011 Explorers Symposium, an annual event at which National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Fellows, Emerging Explorers, grantees and others affiliated with National Geographic gather to share findings of their research and fieldwork and take part in panel discussions.

Rob Kincheloe’s Flow Magazine Tutorial

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Torchworker Robert Kincheloe has a tutorial on his boro casting technique featured in the latest issue of The Flow glass journal.

In the magazine, he demonstrates how to re-create an object in borosilicate glass using his lost wax casting techniques, and incorporating the cast boro into flamework sculpture.


Rob’s tutorial is also available
online thru the magazine’s website – Click HERE to jump to The Flow’s class website.

Chinese Glass Artist Lu Chi Visits Washington Glass

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L-R Gwen Paulson, Erwin Timmers, Tim Tate, Lu Chi, Michael Janis, Robert Kincheloe, George Koch

Shanghi glass artist Lu Chi visited the Washington Glass School, talking about glass techniques and opportunities to exhibit overseas.

A pioneer of Chinese contemporary glass art, Lu Chi received the very first MFA degree in glass in China from Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2003. She worked as a university teacher in Shanghai for four years and continued her extracurricular education at the Studio of Corning Museum of Glass in New York in 2006 and 2007.


Her works were shown at distinguished venues and international exhibitions such as Glass Art Society 2007 Live Auction in Pittsburgh, “Glass Now 2008″ in Philadelphia and a group exhibition in Leo Kaplan and New York. Lu’s work will be shown at SOFA Chicago in November, at Navy Pier.

Lu’s kilncast glass sculptures are complex forms created in clay and produced using the “lost wax’ process. Her largest works are more than 1 meter high. It takes an average of three months to finish one sculpture. Each sculpture can weigh up to 40 kilograms.

Click HERE to jump to her website.

Characters and Roads

kilncast glass

Landscape on the Map