Washington Glass School Says Farewell to Nancy Donnelly


Artist Nancy Donnelly had many facets – sculptor, painter, bookkeeper, welder, printmaker; she is a Renaissance woman.

The Glass School says “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good-bye” to one of our own – glass artist Nancy Donnelly – as she leaves DC for an extended holiday in Europe and then moves to the “other” Washington.


Nancy Donnelly gives a “bench blow” for her roll-up glass as she assists Michael Showalter at DC Glass Works.


Nancy Donnelly “Green Eggs & Ham”, Fused and blown glass.

Nancy has been working from the studio since 2007. Originally a painter, Nancy embraced all aspects of glass  - blown, fused, cast; she sought out ever more directions in the medium. As she expanded her technical repertoire, she became a true mixed media sculptor. Her shows at galleries throughout the Washington, DC area began to be covered by the Washington Post art critic Mark Jenkins. In his review of Nancy’s recent “Transmission” show at Rockville, MD’s Common Ground Gallery, he said that her “striking sculptures” were “metaphors for creation and liberation, making them pertinent not just to one artist who has found her medium“.


Nancy Donnelly made the aprons for the cold shop – and everyone at the Glass School became Fashion-Forward models

Nancy also worked in the studio as the bookkeeper and organized many aspects of the school, including the course schedules and flyers. She kept the many studio resident artists in line and looked out for the welfare of all.

As Nancy transitions into the next version of uber-artist and world traveler, all of us at the Glass School will miss her terribly! Come back often to visit!


Nancy Donnelly talks about her glass artwork with WGS’ Tim Tate.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu - Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu

Washington Glass School Winter Holiday Open House Dec 14th

It’s that time of year! The artists, elves and instructors of the Washington Glass School all gather around the warmth of the kilns and invite everyone to celebrate the season. Saturday December 14th, from Noon til 5, come on in to the studio and check out works by some of the hottest and most thoughtful artwork coming from the DC area.

Nancy Donnelly
Syl Mathis
Sean Hennessey

It’s a great time to socialize with the arts community and hang with some of these supastar artists.  

Also visit the adjacent studios – Alonzo Davis and Alec Simpson’s Blue Door studio, Ellyn Weiss’ studio – lots to see!

Next door Flux Studios will have their open studio and 1st Annual “Cups Invitational” – make a day of it!

Washington Glass School 
Holiday Open House
Saturday, December 14th
Noon til 5:00 pm
3700 Otis Street
Mount Rainier, MD 20712

Cup International at Flux Studios.

Also – Save the Date! Our studio coordinator – Audrey Wilson – has been taking the art world by storm, with great response to her work from shows like Art Miami, the Glass Art Alliance’s “Contemporary Glass from the Heartland” show and the International Glass & Clay show here in DC. Audrey has a solo show here at the Gallery at the Glass School this coming January.

Audrey Wilson

Audrey Wilson Solo: “The Aberrant Collection of the Spuricus Calamus”

Opens January 11, 2014

The Gallery at Washington Glass School

3700 Otis Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712

The Process: Nancy Donnelly Creates Baptismal Font

As part of the ongoing series titled “The Process” the Washington Glass School blog focuses on the methodology of an artist or technique. Today, Nancy Donnelly gives an in-depth look at a glass artwork commission she has recently completed for the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, VA. Have a look as she outlines how she made the fused glass central baptismal font for the church.

For this community, baptism is the central rite. Nancy describes what they were looking for in art glass: “They wanted to see the water in action…they wanted a big bowl, nice shallow curve so the water would be scoopable, clear glass with a wavelet pattern in blues, darker in the center and fading toward the rim.”  The font was to be situated in the center of the space, located in a stand that would reveal the water to the congregation.

Nancy made a variety of bowls.

Said Nancy, “I’ve made many glass bowls, but none that big. I knew there would be a number of samples made until I got it right and could present the best one.” Nancy made a number of fused glass test pieces in the Washington Glass Studio. 
Nancy was concerned about how the colors looked and how the edges would be finished, as well as how deep a bowl profile was needed. 

Test 3 – issues arose on how the glass edges could grab the sides of the molds as it moved down.

Nancy said of her test process, “I made glass sandwiches, (colored frit fused between two sheets of glass). I knew this method could be risky, as bubbles could form as the trapped air is locked between the sheets of glass as the glass melts. Bubbles are part of glass, and my worry was, how big is too big?

Nancy also wanted to emphasize the feeling of rippling water. “In the first go, my wavelets looked like little upside-down drawings of seagulls. The second try I got a lot of big bubbles at the rim. On the third one, I tried avoided bubbles by filling in with clear frit, which did not turn out well!” she explained. In the final glass baptismal font, the aqua colors of the frit have a nice, soft undulating texture.

Senior Pastor Deborah McKinley at the Baptismal Font

The glass baptismal was completed and installed in time for the Easter holiday, and the glass was well received by the Lewinsville congregation. Well done, Nancy!

Nancy Donnelly in the Washington Post

Glass artist Nancy Donnelly has a solo show of her latest glass artwork on exhibit at VisArt’s “Common Ground Gallery” in Rockville, MD. (Through March 24, 2013). Nancy’s kiln-shaped glass sculpture and wall reliefs reference natural forms in glass, glass enamel, steel, concrete and transparent color. The Washington Post newspaper has a review of her show in today’s (Friday 15 March) paper – what a great review!  Excerpt below is from WaPo art critic Mark Jenkins’ article.

From The Washington Post, Friday, March 15, 2013:

Nancy Donnelly

D.C. artist Nancy Donnelly does landscapes, still lifes and figure studies, all traditional genres. But hers have an added aspect, because they’re translucent. Six years ago, Donnelly began working in glass, which makes even the thinnest of her works sculptural. “Transmission,” her show at VisArts at Rockville’s Common Ground Gallery, encompasses rectangular compositions with just a hint of depth, pieces in which certain elements protrude from the plane and works that are fully three-dimensional.

The last category includes flower arrangements such as “Bouquets,” whose simplified forms suggest pop art’s directness but whose colors subtly shift along the length of the glass fronds. Among the near-flat objects are nature scenes such as “Sea and Sky I” and the more abstract “Tribute to William Morris,” a homage to the Victorian-era designer and theorist that employs a subtle black and green palette. Perhaps the most striking sculptures are those in which well-rounded female nudes, rendered in bluish or greenish glass, emerge from contrastingly hued blocks. They’re metaphors for creation and liberation, making them pertinent not just to one artist who has found her medium.


on view through March 24 at Common Ground Gallery, VisArts at Rockville, 155 Gibbs St., Rockville; 301-315-8200; visartsatrockville.org.”

Look at the Post online – click HERE.

Nancy Donnelly: Transmission at VisArts Common Ground Gallery

>Nancy Donnelly‘s exhibit of new works opens February 22 at VisArts Common Ground Gallery in Rockville, February 22 to March 24, 2013.

Nancy Donnelly’s kiln-shaped glass sculpture and wall reliefs send out a message of spaciousness and calm. Referencing natural forms in glass, glass enamel, steel, concrete and transparent color, her work operates near a whisper, but sparks memory, emotion and imagination.

Nancy Donnelly – fused glass, enamel

An Opening Reception and Artist Talk will be held on Friday, February 22 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Nancy Donnelly: Transmission

February 22 to March 24, 2013

Common Ground Gallery

VisArts at Rockville

155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD  20850 

Drawing On Glass


Nancy Donnelly uses underglaze pencils to create fused glass drawings.

Working in the glass school, Nancy Donnelly creates fused glass drawings and sketches. Originally a painter, Nancy likes to explore ways to bring her “painterly aspects” into glass. Using underglaze crayons and pencils, Nancy works at getting a loose ‘sketch’ feel into her glass artwork.

The use of underglaze pencil allows Nancy to retain her detail and her quality of sketch in the art.

Nancy likes the expressive qualities of the sketch.
Nancy is able to capture the personality of the subject.

Examples of Nancy’s artwork can be seen in Foundry Gallery in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. Nancy will have a solo show there this coming October 3 – 28th, 2012.

Foundry Gallery, 1314 18th St NW, WDC

Hot Times At Glass School

>The thermometer might be reading in the triple digits (upper 30′s for the C° crowd ), and there may be powerful storms that have knocked out power for many in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland & Virginia) but there are those that come to the glass school to chill. 
Here are some shots taken on a hot weekend:

University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Associate Professor Susan O’Brien has come to the glass school to work in glass, as a change from ceramics. Susan here talks about her composition with artist Michael Janis.

Susan explores integrating decorative patterns into her fused glass

Artist John Henderson removes his castings from the kiln.

John is preparing artwork for a new mixed media series he is developing.

John’s new “Shield” series incorporates cast glass African imagery with metal and fused glass elements. And working with a water-cooled chop saw helps cool him down. 

Nancy Donnelly works with glass frits to create a lovely floral backdrop.

Stay Cool Peeps! 

"Color and Shape" at City Gallery DC

>Color and Shape showcases Nancy Donnelly’s glass art and Jill Finsen’s oil paintings.

Fascination with texture as a component of color and shape is apparent in the work of both these artists. Surface abstraction contributes to the success of these art pieces—the texture of the glass plays off the layered textures within the paintings. These works truly complement each other.

Both artists find negative space crucial to this effect, moments of rest that energize each work and in this sense make each stronger. Donnelly and Finsen’s artwork provides an elegant balance between familiarity and abstraction.

Color & Shape

February 5-26, 2011

City Gallery

804 H Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002


Opening Reception Saturday: February 5, 2011 from 6-9pm

Nancy Donnelly Solo Show at Foundry Gallery


Nancy Donnelly’s new sculptures are kiln‐cast glass, frequently augmented with paint and metals in a very contemporary palette. With a background in painting and anthropology, tone of the Washington Glass School’s studio artist is focused on gesture and movement. From glass birds swooping overhead to 4‐legged work nearly walking off the pedestal, these unique pieces express character and attitude.

F o u n d r y G a l l e r y

1314 18th Street NW, 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20036

Nancy Donnelly

Situations Made Visible

Exhibit Dates: December 1 — January 2

Reception: Friday, December 3, 6—8 pm

Artist talk: Sunday, December 12, 2-4 pm

Hours: Wednesday‐Friday, 1‐7 pm & Saturday‐Sunday, 12‐6 pm

From Foundry Gallery’s website:

Nancy Donnelly’s glass sculptures all in one way or another address issues of what it is like to be female, in this world, and living now. Clothed or nude, male or female, even pieces that don’t show a human being at all, they all express the situation of having a certain age, a certain gender, a certain stance and attitude. Wall labels will help explain matters, both in cartoons and in words.

The pieces in this show are made of glass, kiln-cast into plaster molds at around 1600 degrees, and then altered usually with paint and metals to clarify what Nancy sees as the most important visual elements. Some of them turned out to be surprising even to Nancy as she made them.

Nancy Donnelly moved to glass in 2006 after painting for about 10 years. Trained in oils, she has learned glass work at Washington Glass School, Pratt Fine Arts Center (Seattle), Bullseye Connection (Portland, Oregon), amongst other places. She is a studio artist at Washington Glass School, and shows at City Gallery and Capitol Hill Art League as well as Foundry. Her awards include a 2008 Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. Nancy’s work is in the collection of the Shakespeare Theater and in private collections.

Click HERE to jump to Nancy’s website.

Photos from Glass Festival in Sequim, WA


Nancy Donnelly sent a quick report of the glass exhibit “Transcendence – the Magic of Glass” that is part of the Glass Festival now going on in Sequim, WA. Washington Glass School’s Teddie Hathaway was juried into the show, outlined in an earlier posting.

Nancy writes that the museum show is at Sequim’s “MAC”, where the letters MAC stands for “Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley” in Washington. Nancy also advises that the correct pronunciation of Sequim is closer to “Skwim”.

The Sequim show is a large show, with some 50 artists participating. Many are from Washington State, but also from Toronto, L.A., Greece,Turkey, New York, and Arizona. This exhibition is part of Washington’s Glass Festival, and is accompanied with workshops and artist talks throughout the month. Some of the artists speaking include Michael Dupille and Delores Taylor.

Nancy writes that the show is well displayed and the work is quite good. They had numerous pieces of cast glass, and she sent some snaps of the exhibit.

photos by Nancy Donnelly

Link to MAC website – click HERE