Washington Post Reviews Michael Janis Solo @ Littleton Gallery

The Washington Post published the following review of Michael Janis’ solo show “Echoes of Leaves and Shadows” being exhibited at the Maurine Littleton Gallery through Oct 15. Art critic Mark Jenkins  describes Michael’s skill as “extraordinary. Jenkins also enthuses that Janis’ glass artwork combines “the stateliness of stained-glass windows with the vivacity of pop art”. Have a read of the full text below:

Michael Janis. "Radiance," 2016, glass, glass powder imagery, steel; on view at Maurine Littleton Gallery. (Michael Janis/Maurine Littleton Gallery)

Michael Janis. “Radiance,” 2016, glass, glass powder imagery, steel; on view at Maurine Littleton Gallery. (Michael Janis/Maurine Littleton Gallery)

By Mark Jenkins October 8, 2016

Michael Janis

If Michael Janis worked with pencil or charcoal, his draftsmanship would be impressive. But the D.C. artist draws photorealist portraits with pulverized glass, placing the powder exactly with tiny tools. Which is extraordinary.

Most of the pieces in “Echoes of Leaves and Shadows,” at Maurine Littleton Gallery, include depictions of pretty young women. These gamines, who might be ballerinas or French New Wave stars, are rendered in granulated black glass fused by heat to clear glass sheets. The pieces aren’t just black-and-clear, though. Janis overlays and underlies patches of translucent colored glass, and often adds such 3-D glass elements as butterflies or flower petals. Aqua and orange are common in this array, among other hues. In one picture, an abstract yellow-green swirl contrasts the subject’s slightly darker green eyes.

Janis employs many variations, slicing faces into three equal parts or contrasting them with panels of textured glass. There are ceramic busts garlanded with glass leaves, and portraits embellished with near-opaque peacock- or dark-blue circles. The latter combine the stateliness of stained-glass windows with the vivacity of pop art — half medieval cathedral, half 1960s Vogue.

Michael Janis: Echoes of Leaves and Shadows On view through Oct. 15 at Maurine Littleton Gallery, 1667 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-333-9307. littletongallery.com.

Penland School of Craft Auction Features Michael Janis’ “Flying In Place”

Michael Janis, "Flying in Place", fused glass powder imagery, steel, silver

Michael Janis, “Flying in Place”, fused glass powder imagery, steel, silver, 24″ x 7″

With less than one month to go until the 2015 Penland Benefit Auction, Penland, the national center for craft education located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains featured Washington Glass School co-director Michael Janis and his artwork “Flying in Place”. Below, Michael Rogers, Professor of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, describes Michael’s work and his process. “Flying in Place” and many other works of glass will be up for bidding at the 30th anniversary of the Penland Benefit Auction this summer. You can now view all of these works online in the 2015 auction catalog.

“Michael Janis is an exceptional visual artist, an innovator, and a master of the technique of fusing with glass powder-essentially ‘painting with glass on glass.’ It takes years of trial and error for an artist to achieve fluency in an area of artistic endeavor where one must charter unknown territory to make discoveries unique to themselves. Through skill, vision, tenacity, and dedication, Michael has created a strong and clear voice with the material that is truly his own. Certainly painters would envy Michael’s ability to orchestrate translucency, opacity, and transparency in tandem with chromatic diversity to achieve depth in the two-dimensional plane. However, Michael is much more than technically adept.

Michael Janis, "Flying in Place",glass, glass powder imagery, silver, steel, 24"dia x 7"

Michael Janis, “Flying in Place”,glass, glass powder imagery, silver, steel, 24″dia x 7″ The frit powder imagery is presented as distorted in the front-on viewing, and the distorted image is viewed un-distorted in the reflection of the silvered glass cylinder.

“After all, Michael is a storyteller, an artist who draws simultaneously upon the past, present, and future to develop the content of his work. Through memory, awareness, and intuitiveness, one could say Michael evokes meaning in his work. With Flying in Place, we are presented with a stunningly beautiful and fascinating piece of poetic narrative. Metaphorically rich in associations, this work preserves its mystery while engaging the viewer’s curiosity. In the end, Michael’s intense ability with material and technique allows him to transcend these aspects of making to communicate his intention directly. Michael’s genius is in suspending reality and creating an illusion one can get lost in. In this way, he captivates the viewer.

“When I see this work by Michael Janis I think that here is a mature artist, an artist at the top of his game.” – Michael Rogers

Please join the Penland Benefit Auction on August 7 and 8, 2015.

Join Penland’s event page to stay up to date on the latest auction news and stories.

Absentee bidders can register by clicking this link. For reservations, please contact Jackie Head at 828-765-2359 x 112 or auction@penland.org.

For more information about the 2015 Annual Benefit Auction, click here to visit Penland’s auction website or call 828-765-2359 x 112.

Git Along Lil Doggies – Professor Janis Heads to Houston

Yee-haw! Hot Glass Houston is fixin’ to round up our Professor Janis and abscond him from Yankee territory for another class in sunny Houston. Last year‘s class was such a rip-roaring, rootin’, tootin’ success, that they wanted an encore performance.
This time, we understand, Professor Janis is ready to Mess with Texas.

Michael is ready for Texas – he’s a bronco-bustin’ cowboy.


He’s a straight shooting son-of-a-gun.
He has hat-head.
But can he take the heat?

Check out what happened last year when Michael went all Chuck Norris at Hot Glass Houston – click HERE to jump to that post.

Bringing Light To The Dark Side

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Novie Trump is a world renown ceramic artist, working from Flux Studios, located right next door to the Washington Glass School. Her poetic sculptural work often involves depictions of nature – presented in unexpected and captivating ways. 

Novie Trump Escape Installation of porcelain butterflies and ceramic book
Ceramic, Acrylic Rods, Steel 
60” x 60” x 24”(variable)

Novie is working on a commissioned artwork piece that came to her via Project 4 Gallery: to create large scale installation that will be located in the new Farmers & Fishers restaurant now being built at the Georgetown waterfront.

Her artwork design calls for many porcelain bees to be clustered around illuminated hives are various locations. The design of the beehive has brought her to the glass studio – and it is a chance for the glass artists to bring Novie over to the dark – or rather – the glassy side.

Erwin Timmers offers some adventurous suggestions to Novie, but from the expressions on both her and Tim Tate’s face, they seem unlikely to be incorporated. 
A sample of Novie Trump’s porcelain bees

Novie chose to work with illuminated glass – creating a pattern of cellular hive divisions with frit powder fused to glass, and slumped over a tapered form. The WGS fritmaster – Michael Janis – offered Novie some pointers on how to manipulate the powder.

Novie Trump and Michael Janis share a laugh as they work
Novie sifts glass powder onto a sheet of glass
Manipulating frit powder is a delicate operation
Novie Trump and Michael Janis evaluate the glass’ progress prior to loading the layer in a kiln for firing

After fusing, the samples are compared by Novie Trump for her preferred selection of color and texture combination 

Novie made many studies of the color and textures and tested the samples with light source alternates.
The glass will later be slumped and a housing for the lighting made in the glass school’s welding shop. Novie will be making the rest of her porcelain swarms and fusing the glass in the next few months, and she promises to send us photos of the finished work.

Michael Janis Does (Hot Glass) Houston

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Washington Glass School’s own “Magic Mike” was just down in Houston – performing for the ladies out at the Hot Glass Houston (HGH) – a Bullseye glass Resource Center in Texas.

Michael Janis exposed all his secrets during his weekend review at club Hot Glass Houston. He happily line dances and pole dances (where he got the nickname “Magic Mike”), yet remains mum about what happened at the HGH karoke night…

Michael said there were many ‘naturals’ in the class that took to the sgraffito technique instantly, and HGH’s Bob Paterson sent some photos from the class - 

Michael Janis outlines frit powder sgraffito process to the class.

In the three-day workshop, the artists created imagery using frit powder, enamels, image transfer, stencils, high-fire pens and paints, and later worked at creating depth by kiln-forming a stacked image panel.

TA Cynthia Gilkey sifts frit powder to recreate her puppy Bob in glass.
Bob after his time in a kiln.
Michael demonstrates how to manipulate frit powder. Its so easy!
Hot Glass Houston kilns fill with image laden sheets of glass.
Lynda Stoy’s frit powder sketch awaits kiln firing.
Layered panel component sheets by Marilyn Dishman, Lynda Stoy and  Deborah Enderle are fired to fix the frit powder on the glass and allow for further embellishment.
The class dams each layered imagery panel prior to full fuse firing.
Catherine Coffman assembles her layered panel in the kiln and creates a dam surround.
After firing.
Brooke Colvin’s romantic panel after clean up.
Liz Paul’s glass artwork references a walk thru the woods.

Michael said he had a great time in Texas, and he enjoyed hanging out with the owner Bob Paterson and TA Cynthia Gilkey – although he mentioned a karaoke night debacle, he refused to give details. Click here to jump to Hot Glass Houston’s facebook page. Click HERE to jump to Hot Glass Houston’s website.

Sgraffito Glass Technique @ Hot Glass Houston

>Michael Janis gets his glass to Texas.
Hot Glass Houstona glass facility that encourages exploration and good times has a great assortment of classes and supplies to provide the people of the Houston area with everything they need to do everything with glass. And they’re a Bullseye Resource Center. Hot Glass Houston is hosting a 3-day workshop with Michael as he divulges his secrets on getting imagery in glass –  ”Visualizations in Glass” July 13, 14 & 15, 2012 – Friday, Saturday, & Sunday – 10- 4 each day. Erwin Timmers had taught a Recycled Glass class there and really enjoyed the place! 

Famous Texas Icons: Texas Rangers, Oil, Armadillos, Big Hair

Click HERE to jump to Hot Glass Houston’s info on the class.


While in Texas, Michael said he wanted to check out all the Texas-isms he heard about from his Texas-born wife. The “Don’t Mess-With Texas” attitude, Big Country, Big Hats, Big Shoes, Big Mosquitoes. BBQ. Michael also said that he plans on re-enacting key scenes from Pee Wees Big Adventure that was partly set in Texas:


Being cheeky in Texas can end in tears.

Fused Imagery In Glass – The Process

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Michael Janis was setting up a firing the other day of his thick layered glass panels, and the Washington Glass School blog asked how he created his frit powder drawings.


Detailed sketches are created to plan the layout each glass layer. Michael sifts frit powder onto sheet glass and manipulates with an scapel blade tip, scratching the powder until he is happy with the imagery (his version of sgraffito – or ” little scratch” technique.) Each working is fired into the glass, and aligned with the successive panel.
This process can take a number of weeks and requires multiple kiln firings. Once Michael is satisfied with the color depth of the frit powder application, he begins his set-up inside a kiln for the final firing – or full fuse.


The panels are assembled into the kiln, sometimes with clear interlayers.


The top layer is placed in the kiln.

The kiln is then set for a long schedule to allow for proper annealing of 6 layers of bullseye glass.
After the glass cools, Michael then cleans and coldworks the slab, and prepares for mounting into one of his steel frames.
The piece shown here is titled “Somewhere I Have Never Traveled”, and will be shown by
Maurine Littleton Gallery during SOFA Chicago.