2017 WGS Year in Review


A look back at some of our biggest moments of the year and what we’re looking forward to in 2018. This year brought us the first year of Trump’s presidency, a historic solar eclipse and some huge exhibits. Now, as the year draws to a close, WGS blog reflects on some of the happenings that rocked – and to some degree reshaped our place in the glass art world.


The Women’s march held in Washington D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017 was organized after the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S. to demonstrate solidarity among women, minorities, LGBT and other disenfranchised communities. Glass Art Magazine editor Shawn Waggoner visited the Washington Glass School while in town for the event.

Glass Art Magazine editor Shawn Waggoner was one of the participants in the Womens March in January.

Glass Art Magazine editor Shawn Waggoner (second from left) was one of the participants in the Women’s March in January.

WGS Instructor Debra Ruzinsky was named the new director of the Appalachian Center for Craft. The Appalachian Center for Craft is located in scenic Middle Tennessee near the town of Smithville. The facility was built in 1979 and has spacious studios, gallery, exhibitions, administrative offices, library, student housing and meeting/audio visual rooms.

The Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee.

The Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee.

Glass Art Magazine featured our Michael Janis in a profiled in their magazine and as part of their podcast series “Talking Out Your Glass“.

Glass Art Magazine featured Michael Janis in the Jan/Feb issue.

Glass Art Magazine featured Michael Janis in the Jan/Feb issue.


Washington Glass Studio completed installation of a two-part public art project in Florida. Palm Beach County‘s Art in Public Places awarded WGS the commission to design and fabricate integrated public art sculptures as part of the renovation of an existing facility for the new headquarters for Palm Beach County’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO). The works were installed starting in January and completed in February 2017.

Public art at Florida's West Palm Beach International Airport

Public art at Florida’s West Palm Beach International Airport

March featured the opening of “Embracing Narrative” – the joint exhibition of glass works by artists from the Washington Glass School and the Virginia Glass Guild opened this weekend at Virginia’s Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center (PACC). Juried by Diane Wright, Curator of Glass, Chrysler Museum of Art and Sheila Giolitti, Mayer Fine Art Gallery, the exhibit kicked off the Glass Art Society’s (GAS) 46th annual conference that was held at the Chrysler Museum and the Perry Glass Studio in June, 2017. embracing_narrative.GAS_conference_norfolk.washington_new_post.studio.glass_.secession.art_.exploring.invite


Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) invited WGS’ Michael Janis in April to the museum to talk about his artwork that was featured in the exhibit “Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art”. He talked about his glass process and the themes that run thru his work. MOCA_meet_the_artist_Janis_michael.museum.glass_.mental_health.mindful

In April, Habatat Galleries featured works by Washington Glass School artists Erwin Timmers, Tim Tate, Michael Janis and Sean Hennessey at the gallery’s 45th Glass International Award Exhibition.

Erwin Timmers' new cast glass and LED panels were featured at the 45th International.

Erwin Timmers’ new cast glass and LED panels were featured at the 45th International.


Washington Glass School co-founder Tim Tate was invited by Glenn Adamson, senior scholar at Yale, to speak at a symposium at Yale University. Tim talked about his work, as well as artists Roberto Lugo and Stephanie Syjuco. Tim Tate talked about how objects differ from other types of evidence, when it comes to histories of ideology and belief.

Tim Tate at Yale conference.

Tim Tate at Yale conference.



WheatonArts hot shop during Glass Weekend 2017

New Jersey’s WheatonArts opened GlassWeekend 2017– an International Symposium and Exhibition of Contemporary Glass. For 32 years, GlassWeekend brought together the world’s leading glass artists, collectors, galleries, and museum curators at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center for a three-day weekend in June. This year’s demonstrating artists were Matthew Szosz, Rik Allen, and Shelley Muzylowski Allen. The keynote speaker featured Susie Silbert, the new Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Tim Tate was one of the featured LBGTQ artists in the Liberty Museum show.

Tim Tate was one of the featured LBGTQ artists in the Liberty Museum show.

The National Liberty Museum hosted the nation’s first museum exhibit of studio glass works produced exclusively by artists of the LGBTQ+ community. Each artist explored diverse subjects, methods, and styles using the artistic medium of glass making.


Teary-eyed farewell to Our Miss Wilson - artist Trish Kent baked a farewell cake in the shape of Audrey's favorite artistic element - a feather.

Teary-eyed farewell to our Ms Wilson – artist Trish Kent baked a farewell cake in the shape of Audrey’s favorite artistic element – a feather.

The Table-making class was great fun!

The glass table-making class was great fun!

Washington Glass School’s table making class ended with some happy artist/students! Erwin Timmers class made the glass for the tabletops and welded the steel for the table bases.

Audrey Wilson was recognized unstoppable force of nature! The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass (AACG) awarded her with their Visionary Scholarship - with it, she was off to Penland for intensive workshops. Glass Art Magazine also featured Audrey with a great profile in the July/August issue! Ms Wilson had to say goodbye to WGS, as she began MFA classes at Ohio’s Kent State.

Glass Art Magazine featured Audrey Wilson in their July/August issue.

Glass Art Magazine featured Audrey Wilson in their July/August issue.


Tim Tate outlines the history of the American Studio Glass Movement to the class.

Tim Tate outlines the history of the American Studio Glass Movement to the class.

Baltimore’s Contemporary Glass Art class held at the CCBC visited the Washington Glass School as part of their studies. The group got to meet with many of the artists working from the studio, and were able to see how a school & studio functions.


LBK gets to work making changes in the Glass School.

Laura Beth Konopinski joined the WGS crew as the new Studio Coordinator coming from the Pittsburgh Glass Center. LBK quickly updated our procedures and has taken over the workings of the busy studio. Ms Konopinski’s artwork has also been noticed, with her work being sought out for exhibition at the Miami Art Week.

“The Great American Eclipse” was the name given to the solar eclipse visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States, passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. WGS celebrated by having the community over to watch the event using the studio’s protective welding eyewear.

Said WGS Co-Director Michael Janis of the eclipse: "whoa".

Said WGS Co-Director Michael Janis of the eclipse: “whoa”.


sean.Hennessey.art.sculptureArtist Sean Hennessey became a proud papa, introducing his best work yet: Atlas Leif. Mazel tov!

The James Renwick Alliance’s (JRA) annual Distinguished Artist Series (DAS) brings notable craft artists from around the country – and in September, the season started off great with Alex Bernstein as the distinguished artist in Glass. Alex took the JRA workshop attendees along a journey from billet to awesome in about 3 hours! The  JRA Distinguished Artist walked the audience thru his signature process of “Bernstein-ing” his work, and everyone loved it!

DAS Alex Bernstein begins his workshop demo at the Washington Glass School. photo by Diane Charnov

DAS Alex Bernstein begins his workshop demo at the Washington Glass School. photo by Diane Charnov


Washington Glass School said farewell to Studio Artist Veta Carney as she retired from her law practice and headed out west with her husband to join her son Daniel Carney’s glass studio in Arizona.

Changes at the Glass Studio are best addressed with food.

Changes at the Glass Studio are best addressed with food.


The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair in Chicago this past November was focused on three-dimensional art and design. Artists Tim Tate and Michael Janis were shown at Habatat Galleries space at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Seen in Chicago SOFA 2017 at Navy Pier

Also in November, the Washington Glass Studio installed the site specific commission for the William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, MD. The internally illuminated artwork was commissioned by Prince Georges County for the new community center named for William Beanes, MD, who played a pivotal role in the history of The Star-Spangled Banner.

The William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, MD.

The William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, MD.

The images were designed and selected by the community after a series of interactive meetings and finalized with the help of local council members. The LED illuminated discs were mounted to a powder coated structure that was mounted to the building structure.



Tim Tate’s definitive profile by William Warmus in American Craft Magazine.

The December/January 2018 American Craft magazine issue features a story by author/critic William Warmus explores WGS co-founder Tim Tate’s history in the glass world. Titled “The Spaces Between“,  William writes about what drives Tim’s work, and about the development (and controversy) of the Facebook “Glass Secessionism” page.


Miami Art Week 2017 featured works by WGS crew Michael Janis, Laura Beth Konopinsk, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers & Alum Audrey Wilson.

December 2017 finished up with an amazing feat – ALL the principal staff of the Washington Glass School were featured as part of the worlds largest and most prestigious art fair – Art Basel/ Miami Art Week. The enormous art fair envelopes Miami and one cannot help but be inspired and encouraged.

Looking Ahead

2018 promises many new opportunities – looking ahead on the calendar:

New classes at the glass school! Michigan’s Habatat Galleries will again feature WGS artists in this year’s 46th International Glass Invitational in April. Michael Janis will be teaching an intensive session at Pittsburgh Glass Center in May. Tim Tate’s artwork  will be part of the LA activist art show “Into Action!curated by John Legend, Shepard Fairy, Rosario Dawson, Harry Belafonte and other notable activists, artists and museum curators. Never a dull moment!

Washington Glass School and Studio Wishes All the Best for the Holidays! May the New Year give wings to all of our dreams and let them come true in 2018!

History of Studio Glass: What Came Before

The audience gets settled into Flux Studios for the start of the history of American studio glass.

Professor Debra Ruzinsky’s lecture on the history of the studio glass movement was a treat! Debra’s slide lecture outlined the traditional lineage and then featured many of the artists and works not normally included in the standard time line history that starts in March 1962 and focuses primarliy on blown glass works. Deb’s discussion included pre-’60s and ’70s works, works by women, European glass artists, kiln casters, and narrative works – all the alternate viewpoints.

Debra Ruzinsky’s lecture takes the students on a journey.

Novie Trump of Flux studios offered the use of their stunning space for the talk, and it was SRO – which is always heartening.

Tim Tate addresses the students from Salisbury University glass program that traveled hours to be part of the talk.

Assistant professor Steve Durow arranged for a group from the glass program at Maryland’s Salisbury University to join the lecture and the students had a tour of the glass school. The idea that the young-un’s (as well as us old coots) are getting a sense of the rich history of glass as the medium rushes forward into the 21st Century makes all of us at the Glass School happy.

Historical Glass Fun Facts : Invention of Pyrex & the Studio Glass Movement

From this. . . . . . .. . . . . . . .to this.

“It was all her idea”

The History of Pyrex
Back in the early 1900′s, Corning Glass Works was working on a request from the railroads to produce lantern glass that would not break when the hot glass was struck by rain or snow. In response to this request, Corning developed globes made from low-expansion glass that could withstand the abuses of weathering and handling which readily broke the flint glass globes. Ironically, the shatterproof lantern globes generated were so good that Corning‘s managers witnessed a decline in sales of replacement globes. This super-tough “fire glass”, as it was called, was resistant to temperature fluctuations, chemical corrosion and even breakage.
Eugene Sullivan, Director of Research at Corning Glass Works, developed Nonex, a borosilicate low-expansion glass, to reduce breakage in shock-resistant lantern globes and battery jars. (Borosilicate glass was originally developed at the Jena Glass works by Otto Schott, which Sullivan had learned about as a doctoral student in Leipzig, Germany.)

In July 1913, a series of events involving Bessie Littleton, the wife of the company’s newest scientist – Dr Jessie Littleton, forced Corning managers to focus their attention on the consumer venture. Apparently, Mrs. Littleton had used a Guernsey brand casserole only twice when it fractured in the oven. Knowing the strength of the glass her husband worked with on a daily basis, she implored him to bring home a substitute from the Corning Glass Works plant. He returned the next evening with the bottoms of two sawed-off battery jars made from low-expansion glasses. Mrs. Littleton cooked a sponge cake in one of the surrogate baking dishes. She noted several remarkable findings:
• The cooking time was shorter
• The cake did not stick to the glass; it was easy to remove with little adhesion
• The cake was unusually uniform
• The flavor of the cake did not remain in the dish after washing
• She could watch the cake bake and know it was done by looking at the underside.

Mr. Littleton brought his wife’s creation to work the following day. Laboratory researchers inspected the cake, which was a “remarkable uniform shade of brown all over.” The men deemed it delicious and very well baked. (A favorite of any lab conclusion, Ed.) Thus began a two-year process to perfect this new invention. The notion of baking in glass was a whole new concept to the public. In 1915, a wondrous new line of “glass dishes for baking” appeared in the nation’s hardware, department and china stores. On May 18, 1915, Boston department store Jordan Marsh placed the first PYREX bakeware order.

The Littleton’s had a son – Harvey K Littleton. Harvey was born in 1922 and was briefly employed by the Corning Glass Works in the 1940s, where he developed his glassmaking skills and began to pursue the idea of glass as a medium for artistic expression. The earliest objects in the exhibition are two experimental cast female torsos, dating to 1942 and 1946, which are the first works in glass made by Littleton while working at Corning Glass Works. Also featured are glass vessels from the early 1960s, dating to the years just after the seminal Toledo Workshops, as well as a bottle made at the 1962 Workshops.

Click HERE to jump to the story of Harvey Littleton and his historic workshops that brought glass from the factory to the artists.

Other Glass Fun Facts to know and tell:

Glass Fun Facts: Gaffer/Composer

More Glass Fun Facts: Bullseye Glass

Float Glass Fun Facts

Glass Fun Facts – Shattered Glass Predicts Weather

Why is Glass Transparent?

Glass Sparks: Michael Janis

photograph by Tom Wolff

Michael Janis studied architecture at Mies van der Rohe’s IIT in his hometown of Chicago, IL. In 1993 he moved to Australia and there he worked on a number of large scale architecture projects, including work for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was in Australia that Michael first started working with glass, designing walls of cast glass.

Moving back to the United States in 2003, glass artwork became his focus. Michael began glass blowing at a Baltimore hot shop and was soon taking glass courses at art centers such as Haystack Mountain in Maine, North Carolina’s Penland School of Craft, and Urban Glass in New York.

Michael at Penland School of Craft

Attracted to the experimental and adventurous approach to the medium that defined the Washington Glass School, he soon became involved with the school as the Studio Coordinator.

L-R Washington Glass Studio directors Erwin Timmers, Tim Tate, Michael Janis. From the 2006 American Style article “Filling Glass With Meaning“. Photo by Roger Foley.

In 2005, Michael became one of the Co-Directors of the Washington Glass School, and he is the Director of Public Art projects for the Washington Glass Studio.

“The Gravity Between Us” Hotel Palomar, Washington, DC

Public Art sculpture for Prince George’s County Circuit Court

Michael continues teaching at the Washington Glass School, and also has taught glass art workshops at Istanbul’s Glass Furnace, the Penland School of Craft and the Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI) in California.

Michael teaching fused glass technique class at Washington Glass School, 2005

Michael Janis teaching at California’s Bay Area Glass Institute, 2010

His kilncast bas-relief glass and steel sculptures were featured in the seminal “Compelled By Content” exhibition at Bethesda, Maryland’s Fraser Gallery. In this show, artists that used glass with narrative content showed how the traditional craft of glass was evolving.

“Liar Paradox” Collection of Susan and Fred Sanders. Photo: Anything Photographic

Michael began incorporating imagery into his glass works, and by manipulating crushed glass powder he has been able to create intricate detail images within the glass, layering the images to emphasize the depth within.

Text and imagery work their way through Michael’s artwork panels, similar to an architect’s diagrams, suggesting elements of stories not fully disclosed. Michael’s work references the Surrealist artists of the early twentieth century and Neo-Dada concepts as seen in the work of artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell and Jasper Johns.

Click HERE to jump to a short documentary on Michael and his sgraffito frit powder technique.

From the catalog of the 2011 exhibit “Material World”:

“When viewers see images of Michael Janis’ work, they may not immediately recognize it as glass art…The virtuosity of Janis’ technique supports his imagery, which is often tinged with a nostalgia for days where innocence reigned and magic seemed possible. Janis is not simply naïve, for there is a darker undercurrent to these works that speaks to the loss of this sense of wonder.” Stephen Boocks curator, April 2011

Maurine Littleton Gallery space, SOFA Chicago 2009

In 2007, Maurine Littleton Gallery began exhibiting his glass artwork at international art shows such as Art Miami, SOFA Chicago and SOFA New York. Currently, his work is on exhibit at the Flemish Center for Contemporary Glass Art in Lommel, Belgium.

In 2009 he was awarded Florida’s “Emerging Artist” award by the Florida Glass Art Alliance, in 2010, he received the Saxe Fellowship from California’s Bay Area Glass Institute. This year, Janis will be named a “Rising Star” by the Creative Glass Center of America and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass at the biannual glass art conference held at the Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts, in New Jersey.

The Memory of Orchids, 2011

His first museum solo show will open this year (August 6 thru November 6, 2011) at the Fuller Museum of Craft, in Brockton, Massachusetts. Michael Janis also was just awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, and will be at the UK’s University of Sunderland and National Glass Center in 2012.

Detail from “In the Evening Twilight”

Michael will be one of the featured artists in Long View Gallery’s exhibition of Artists of the Washington Glass School:

Washington Glass School: The First 10 Years
LongView Gallery
1234 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC May 19 – June 19,2011
Artist Reception, May 19th, 6:30-8:30 PM

For other Washington Glass School artist profiles:

Diane Cabe

Sean Hennessey

Allegra Marquart

Teddie Hathaway

Elizabeth Mears

Jackie Greeves

Erwin Timmers

Jeff Zimmer

Robert Kincheloe

Spotlight on Susan Taylor Glasgow


Susan Taylor Glasgow ‘You Are My Sunshine’.

On of the features of the blog is to showcase the work of favorite artists. One of the contemporary leaders of narrative glass is Susan Taylor Glasgow. Susan will be in the DC area soon, teaching a workshop at Weisser Studios.

Susan Talor Glasgow ‘Eve’s Penance’.

Susan Taylor Glasgow is represented by Heller Gallery, NY, and is exhibited throughout the United States. Her ‘Sewn Glass’ technique embraces the domestic act of sewing in an unexpected medium. Combining text with 1950’s imagery, Susan explores the “complex dichotomy of women’s roles within the household”. Each sewn glass sculpture starts out as a flat sheet of glass.

Susan says of her work “In my previous life I was a professional dressmaker and seamstress, so I have a comfortable understanding about how to take a flat sheet of material and give it form. Each panel is cut from a pattern designed to match the form I’ve made for it.”

To establish the three-dimensional shape and holes, each section of the glass is kiln-fired several times. The imagery is imbedded into the glass by sandblasting, and then by rubbing glass enamels into the blasted area to create the black and gray “photo”. The components are then re-fired to melt the enamel into the glass. Once cooled, the sections are finally sewn together. Depending on the complexity of the vessel or sculpture, the entire creative process may take two to four weeks to complete.

Susan Taylor Glasgow ‘Glamour Legs Model #121757 Set’.

Susan’s studio is in Missouri, in an old 1930′s house in downtown Columbia that she and her husband rescued from demolition. She is a 2002 recipient of Pilchuck Glass School emerging artists grant, and a Wheaton Arts fellow in fall of 2003, and most recently a resident artist at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Susan’s work has earned numerous awards and she has work included in the permanent collection of the Carnegie Museum, Chrysler Museum, Museum of American Glass, and several others.

Click HERE to jump to Susan’s website.

Susan’s work will be part of a group show titled “Domesticity: How We Live” at Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA, opening in October.

Susan also has a solo show at Gallery One One titled ‘Refuge’ now on exhibit at Brazee Street Studios in Cincinatti, OH, with the closing reception on Oct 8th.

Ms. Glasgow is also a chair at the upcoming Pittsburgh Glass Center Benefit Auction to be held Oct. 15th in Pittsburgh, PA.

Smithsonian Journeys tours Washington Glass School

> photo by Nancy Donnelly
Smithsonian Journeys host a destination tour of the Smithsonian Craft Show, the nation’s most prestigious juried exhibition of contemporary craft. As a tour highlight is a curator-led tour of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, a private tour of the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and a tour of artists studio – which has been for the past two years the Washington Glass School.

The host for the group is Charlene Johnson – an expert in contemporary American crafts. She received her Master’s degree in the history of decorative arts from Parsons School of Design, and now teaches a course on Ethnic and Folk Art Expression in Contemporary Art at the Corcoran School of Art. Charlene is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she leads gallery talks on crafts at the Luce Foundation Center.

The tour of the school included Allegra Marquart talking about her work, Tim Tate and Michael Janis talking about their techniques and work.