29 February 2012

"The New Materiality" Goes to Little Rock

The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft is an exhibition that Fo Wilson had curated originally for the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts in 2010. It has started a national tour and was on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Asheville Museum in North Carolina. This April it will also travel to the Arkansas Art Center, opening April 13, 2012.

The exhibition examines the work of sixteen established and emerging makers working in traditional craft disciplines who are treading compelling territory between traditional mediums and emergent technologies.

The Arkansas Arts Center features nine galleries as well as classrooms and a theater. The permanent collection includes American and European paintings, drawings, and sculptures from the 16th century to the present times.

A children’s theater and decorative arts museum is also part of the center. As home to famous Renaissance and Impressionist paintings as well as modern drawings and sculptures, the Arts Center has devoted over thirty years to build a unique collection of American and European works.

Tim Tate American (Washington, D.C., 1966 - )
Personal Installation: My Heart is Unbreakable, 2007
glass, video, mixed media
Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 2007.048

Arkansas Arts Center,

501 East 9th Street, Little Rock, AR 72202

April 13 - August 5, 2012

click HERE to jump to Arkansas Arts Center website.

28 February 2012

Science of Art Laboratory (SOFAlab) at The Glass School

Erwin Timmers, Dr Caroline Wellberry and the students working on the SOFAlab collaborative art project.
photo by Elmo Thamm

Medical waste and its impact on climate change was the connective theme of the collaborative work. Using glass diverted from the waste stream, the Georgetown University students and Residents from the Fort Lincoln Clinic worked with Dr. Caroline Wellberry and Erwin Timmers this past weekend. The resulting glass and steel sculpture will be exhibited at Smith Center Gallery in May.

"Science of Art Laboratory" (SOFALab) was created to initiate the spark of communication and to look for commonalities that can bring out new understanding and develop new tools of interactions from both the sciences and arts with the aim that these interactions and findings can affect boarder intellectual and/or social changes.

The project is a collaborative effort from the Executive Director of Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Shanti Norris; the Director of Printmaking at George Mason University, Helen Fredrick; and the Founder of Hamiltonian Artists and physics professor of George Mason University, Paul So. The SOFAlab is generously supported by the Center for Consciousness and Transformation from George Mason University.

The students listen as Erwin Timmers outlines the mold-making process.
photo by Elmo Thamm

Erwin Timmers and Helen Fredrick consult about the kiln-firing process.

Glass will be cast into the imagery that is formed in the kilns.
photo by Elmo Thamm

A Georgetown medical student gets to practice his surgical precision with moldmaking in the kiln. Just like the game of Operation, a steady hand is requisite.

Erwin Timmers has found the perfect element to cast into glass.
photo by Elmo Thamm

More info to follow after the work is mounted and the show is all set in the Smith Farm Gallery - stay posted!

27 February 2012

Ginny Ruffner: A Movie & A Show

Multimedia artist Ginny Ruffner's artwork is an exuberant, mind-blowing party. No matter whether her medium is glass, paint, metal, or paper, the result is a kaleidoscopic explosion of color and form that blurs the lines between indoors and out, natural and mechanical, dream and waking.

Ginny lives and works in Seattle, WA. Despite a life interrupted by a near-fatal auto accident in 1991, Ginny's years of painstaking recovery have been richly productive.

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 12:00 noon the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum will screen “Ginny Ruffner: A Not So Still Life ”, a movie that peers into the kaleidoscopic mind of American glass artist Ginny Ruffner. The documentary explores Ruffner’s journey from her childhood in South Carolina to her emergence as a world-renowned artist. The film also highlights her influences, including Dale Chihuly, Graham Nash, and Tom Robbins. The film is 80 minutes in length and was directed by Karen Stanton.

The event will take place at the Grand Salon of the Renwick Gallery and admission is free. After the screening, Ginny will participate in a discussion about the film and sign copies of the DVD that will be available for purchase on site.

Ginny Ruffner: Works On Paper

Following screening of the film, Maurine Littleton will feature an exhibition of Ginny’s new work, including Ginny’s new works-on-paper at the gallery.

The gallery event will begin at 2:00 PM and Ginny will be present. The Maurine Littleton Gallery is located at 1667 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC.

Also on exhibit are Jeff Zimmer's new layered glass works in the upper level gallery space.

22 February 2012

Kiln-formed Glass & The American Studio Glass Movement - A Parallel History

Part 1 The Glass Pioneers

fused crushed glass and enamel vessel, 1958-1959.
2012 marks the 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement, and its celebration will be marked with many events and exhibitions. The focus of the anniversary celebrations will mainly be on hot-glass and taking glass making from the factory to the artist's studio, using the 1962 Toledo glass workshop as the birth date.

Toledo glass workshop in the spring of 1962

As the Washington Glass School features kiln-formed glass, we wanted to join the celebration by outlining the parallel and often co-dependent history of the kiln-formed glass section of the movement (aka warm glass, or fused glass). This series of postings - often based directly on writings by glass artists Richard LaLonde, Boyce Lundstrom, Dan Schwoerer, Bert Weiss and Corning Museum of Glass' history information online. It also strongly references Martha Drexler Lynn's seminal study "American Studio Glass 1960-1990". Thanks also to Chip Montague and Betty Py for sourcing images and backgrounds on the featured artists.

Shifts in art practice after WW2 opened the door for materials not previously considered.The popular story about the origins of the American studio glass movement casts Harvey Littleton as its Prometheus. Littleton and his teaching had a significant effect on the evolution of studio glass. His work, and that of his students and their followers built a basis for the current glass art scene. While
Littleton's passion for hot glass originally led him to define "studio glass" to that blown or worked in a hot-glass studio - his later works included kilnformed plate glass and printing on glass plates, a new concept that he called vitreography.

Horizontal/Vertical, 1974. Harvey Littleton. Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin

Early Fused Glass

While the precise origins of glass fusing techniques are not known with certainty, there is archeological evidence that the Egyptians were familiar with basic techniques. Some historians argue that the earliest fusing techniques were first developed by the Romans, who were much more prolific glassworkers. Fusing was the primary method of making small glass objects for approximately 2,000 years, until the development of the glass blowpipe largely replaced fusing due to its greater efficiency and utility.

Vase, 1923.François Emile Décorchemont. pâte de verre
Two government actions helped to propel crafts to greater acceptance in the 1930s and 1940s, the Works Projects Administration Federal Arts Project (later WPA) created employment for the approximately five thousand artists and craftsmen. Another consequence of the war that contributed to the emergence of studio glass was that as returning veterans’ formed new families, they required housing and furnishings. This fostered a trend toward mass-produced anonymous objects. Handcrafted items, in contrast, were refreshing and capable of expressing individuality. Crafts were seen as an antidote to the suburban Levittown and as a means to creating a sense of individuality in the new American suburban tract house.
Sept/Oct 1959 issue of Craft Horizons Magazine. The cover shows images from the 1959 Corning International Contemporary Glass Exhibition. The magazine changed its name in 1979 to American Craft.
In the late 1940’s and 50’s glass pioneers set up studios to experiment, and made functional household objects like plates, bowls, jewelry and the occasional art object or hanging mobile. Their success often came from the transfer of ceramic and other craft techniques to glass. These artists fused enamels that were created for metal enameling on and in between pieces of window glass in electric brick kilns used for ceramics.
Glass Artists of the Post War Era - an outline of a few of the pioneers:
Maurice Heaton, a designer of stained glass, became adept at slumping flat sheets of hot glass into or over a mold to form vessel shapes. Born in London, he was the son of an Arts and Crafts cloisonné enameller and the grandson of a stained-glass maker. He moved to New York in 1914. His work is characterized by detailed, linear patterns created by fusing crushed, brightly colored enamels onto the surface of the glass.
Africa, 1948. Maurice Heaton
Kilnformed glass, powdered glass, enamel.Corning Museum of Glass
Fish Platter, 1940's. Maurice Heaton
Kilnformed glass, powdered glass, enamel.
Michael and Francis Higgins’ were a husband-and-wife team who produced commercial tableware for Dearborn Glass.Both studied at the Chicago Institute of Design. The couple individually created unique hinged boxes, mobiles, flat panels and vessel forms that were distinguished by bold geometric patterns and innovative techniques that retain their freshness with their delicate designs.

Vessel, 1958-1959 Frances Stewart Higginsfused crushed glass and enamel. Corning Museum of Glass

plate, 1960's Michael & Frances Higginskiln-formed glass

Edris Eckhardt, a well known Cleveland School artist, is recognized for her virtuosity in ceramics, enamels, and glass work, invented her own glass formulas to create her sculpture. She may have been the first American studio glass artist to formulate her own batch instead of simply melting cullet. Eckhardt changed her first name to Edris, after a genderless angel, after being declined for an art school scholarship based solely on her gender.

Archangel, 1956. Erdis Eckhardt
cast glass. Corning Museum of Glass

Uriel, 1968. Erdis Eckhardt
cast glass. Corning Museum of Glass

This year, the Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts has the above artists featured in an exhibit titled "Pioneers of American Studio Glass", now thru 12/30/2012.

Early Writing About Studio Glass

For the glass practitioner, collector or scholar, there were few published information sources were available, beyond meeting the artist in person. Teaching about glassmaking - or "glass technology" would, at best be taught in a school's manual arts curriculum or as a hobby. First published in 1942, the craft magazine Craft Horizons provided limited information about glass techniques, but typical of the focus on the arts, it had three times more information about other craft media as on glass. The magazine later became American Craft in 1979 and was redesigned with an expanded awareness of studio glass.

1944 Craft Horizons and 2012 American Craft Magazine

Early books about glass offered technical advice, a general history of glass, or the occasional survey of contemporary work. Information about glass was available only in industrial manuals, amongst them "The Art of Glassmaking" (1947) by Sydney Waugh, a designer for Corning Glass. Waugh's book included declarations that glass could only be made in large factories.
California artist Kay Kinney studied glazes and ceramics and later experimented with glass in the early 1960's. Kinney's book "Glass Craft: Designing, Forming, Decoration" (1962) was written long before the "fusing-compatible" era. Her book has information about mold-making, fusing and slumping projects utilizing window glass, bottles, and other types of glass.

Kinney's book was written for glass novices, with simple, straightforward instructions on cutting and fusing.

The Toledo Workshops were indeed a watershed. After the workshops, glassmaking programs entered the college, university and fine arts programs. Other venues for glass study began opening up, and established regional craft centers like Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Craft had more intensive learning opportunities. By 1973, glass programs had penetrated the university and craft world to the extent that Glass Art Magazine listed seventy educational programs. This expansion had a profound effect on the establishment of the critical mass of artists devoted to learning about, producing, and promoting studio made glass. Additionally, the G.I. Bill, started in the 1940's, had a strong effect on the lives if the returning veterans. That bill, (as did the later, similar Veterans Acts under the Johnson, Nixon and the Ford Administrations) through the mid 1970's - offered veterans a college scholarship to any college of their choice. As it turned out, art school was very attractive and glass blowing extremely attractive. There were glass programs across the country. By the time the GI Bill was gone, so were the glass programs.

Click HERE to jump to Part 2 Exploring Technique and Content - the '60's, '70's & '80's

21 February 2012

Washington, DC and Sunderland, UK Sign Friendship Agreement


The UK's Sunderland City Council will be signing a "Friendship Agreement" with Washington, DC tomorrow, February 22, 2010. Sunderland is the only non-capital in the world to have such an agreement with Washington, DC. The original agreement was signed in 2006, and a formal renewal and signing will take place at the British Embassy with the UK's deputy head of mission to the US Philip Barton.In DC, delegates from Sunderland University, the Sunderland Chamber of Commerce and business representatives are joining Sunderland council chief executive Dave Smith at the Embassy renewal.

Delegates from the University of Sunderland tour the Washington Glass School
L-R Peter Fidler, Vice Chancellor Sunderland University, Angela Fidler, Erwin Timmers, WGS.

The delegation is attending a series of meetings, including a meeting with DC’s Mayor Gray - and a visit to the Washington Glass School.

Commercial Director of Sunderland AFC Gary Hutchinson said: “We all know that our city and region have strong links with the US and Washington DC. It was a major coup to see these strengthened in 2006, we’ve built upon that agreement and now we are about to renew it.”

Council leader Paul Watson said: “Since signing this historic Friendship Agreement with Washington DC, we’ve seen a range of economic and educational benefits.

“Young people in a number of our schools, as well as Sunderland Youth Parliament, have had the opportunity to learn more about America, explore issues important to young people on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as learn more about their own history and heritage.

In June 2006, Sunderland signed the original Friendship Agreement with Washington DC. The Friendship Agreement cements the city's unique historical link with Washington DC, as George Washington's ancestral home is located within Sunderland, England's boundary and sets out to create benefits for the people of both cities through economic, educational, and cultural co-operation as well as exchanges of experience in key policy areas.

Later this year, Washington Glass School's Professor Tim Tate and Professor Michael Janis will be teaching at the University of Sunderland and the UK's National Glass Centre as part of their Fulbright Scholarship, and continues the interaction between the two glass centers.

20 February 2012

♪ Happy Birthday, Mr President ♫

All Hail To The Chief(s)!
Fun Facts about George & Abe:

George Washington's dentures

George Washington FUN FACTS

--Admiring biographers make much of the fact that Washington turned down a salary from the Continental Congress and asked instead that he be paid only for his expenses as commander-in-chief. As it turns out, the general made a sound financial decision. If he had accepted the salary ($500 a month) he would have received a total of $48,00 for his service. As it was, his expense account during 8 years of war came to $447,220, according to the smallest estimate. Included in this total were sums for a new carriage, expensive saddles, and imported wines for his headquarters.

--When the capital was moved from New York to Philadelphia, Washington, who had been disappointed in the food that he had been eating as President, brought his black slave Hercules from Mount Vernon to serve as cook. Pennsylvania law provided that slaves be given their freedom after 6 months' residence in the State. To avoid the possibility of losing the services of his master chef, Washington would send Hercules back to Mount Vernon just before the 6 months were up. Then, several weeks later, he would have him returned to the capital. Hercules, who soon won a reputation in Philadelphia as a flashy and colorful dresser, was much too smart to stand this arrangement for long. One night before the end of Washington's term he disappeared and much to the President's disappointment was never heard from again.

--One of the most seriously misleading of the Washington legends is the story of the pious general kneeling in prayer in the snow at Valley Forge. Not only is there no evidence to support this tale, but Washington was notorious in his parish church for his refusal to kneel at any of the customary moments in the Episcopal service. As his minister declared disapprovingly after the President's death, "Washington was a Deist." Although Martha was a devout churchwoman, George never shared her enthusiasm. On communion Sundays he always walked out before taking the eucharist, leaving Martha to participate in the service alone.

In 1842, Abe was challenged to a duel. Abe won.

Abraham Lincoln FUN FACTS

--Lincoln was never associated with any organized church, and as a young man in New Salem he had a reputation as an outspoken nonbeliever. Having read Thomas Paine, he liked to argue with friends against the tenets of conventional religion. In his 1846 congressional campaign, Lincoln's unorthodox position became a campaign issue, and he offered the only public statement of his career on his religious convictions: That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general or of any denomination of Christians in particular.

--In 1842, Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel from James Shields, the Democratic State auditor. Shields was furious over a satiric letter in a local paper. Actually, the letter had been written by Lincoln's fiancée, Mary Todd, but Lincoln willingly took responsibility. Since he was given the choice of weapons, Lincoln, with typical cunning, selected broadswords--with his 6'4" frame and his enormous arms, Lincoln had an insurmountable advantage over his diminutive opponent when it came to dueling with swords. Shields wisely decided to make up his differences with Lincoln and the scheduled duel failed to take place.

--The clutter in Lincoln's law office was notorious, and a continual source of irritation to his partner, William Herndon. On his desk, Lincoln kept one envelope marked "When you can't find it anywhere else, look into this."

--Frederick Douglass, the celebrated black abolitionist and former slave, was invited by Lincoln to the inaugural reception in 1865, but when Douglass tried to enter, policemen man-handled him and forced him back out. Making his way in again, he managed to catch Lincoln's eye. "Here comes my friend Douglass," the President exclaimed, and, leaving his circle of guests, he took Douglass by the hand and began to chat with him.

--Once, shortly before his election to the Presidency, Lincoln reported that he was startled by a vision. As he lay down to rest, weary over a hard day of politics, he caught a glimpse of his face in a mirror--and was startled to see a double image of himself. The 2nd image in the mirror was pale, "like a dead man's." After a few days, when the same pair of images reappeared, he discussed the phenomenon with his wife. She interpreted it to mean that Lincoln would be elected to 2 terms as President, but that he would die during his 2nd term.

Presidential trivia facts from: www.trivia-library.com

19 February 2012

Bert Weiss Master Painting on Glass Class

Bert Weiss mixes his secret ingredient (7-Up) with his enamels. It is crisp and clean - and no caffeine.

Artist Bert Weiss' three-day master glass painting technique class is underway this weekend. Bert's special techniques includes mixing metallic oxide colorants with glass and create oil paint like-washes. The big class is working magic in the kiln!. - Some shots of the class in progress:

Bert outlines the mixing process.

The class firings are reviewed in the morning.

17 February 2012

Fuller Craft Museum Welcomes New Director Jonathan Fairbanks

The Board of Directors of Fuller Craft Museum has announce that Jonathan Leo Fairbanks has been named Fuller Craft's new Director. Founder and Curator Emeritus of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Fairbanks has had a long-standing relationship with the Massachusetts-based contemporary craft museum. In fact, he was honored recently by Fuller Craft (along with Sam Maloof in 2009) with a Luminaries award for his lifelong dedication to the arts. Fairbanks now joins New England's only museum dedicated to exhibitions that explore life through the art of contemporary craft.

Jonathan Fairbanks, Director

"We are so pleased to gain the leadership of such a distinguished museum veteran and artist," said Chris Rifkin, Chairman of the Board. "This is an exciting time for Fuller Craft. Jonathan has a profound understanding of the connectedness of craft to the artist, and to all of us in our everyday lives. This makes him the right person to lead our talented staff and make our museum a focal point, a mirror to what's happening in the studio craft world. His vision, experience, and national reputation as one of the country's foremost experts in craft will be tremendously beneficial to our museum."

Fairbanks, who has been working with museums for more than 50 years, is considered to be one of the nation's top authorities in arts and antiques. As a Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the MFA, Boston from 1970 - 1999, he added significant contemporary craft collections to the museum, including works by 50 contemporary studio furniture makers, plus hundreds of ceramic, glass, and mixed media artists.

"The new studio crafts movement is the most exciting thing going on in American art today. People relate to craft, the authentic creations of the hand, brain, and heart," said Fairbanks. "I have had the pleasure of knowing Fuller Craft since the early 1970s and believe that this nimble, soulful organization has a special opportunity to shine a spotlight on the important values of craft and shaping materials. Boston was the first large urban area in America with a great arts and crafts organization. Fuller Craft Museum built upon that tradition, and today is one of a handful of museums in the country dedicated entirely to showcasing fine contemporary craft. I am honored to be a part of the future of Fuller Craft Museum."

15 February 2012

Recycled Glass: Sculpture and Design

Schiffer Publishing has a new book out that has a focus on artists that use recycled glass as the raw material for their artwork and sculpture. Written by artist/author Cindy Ann Coldiron, the book, Sculpture and Design with Recycled Glass, features a number of area artists that utilize glass diverted from the waste stream.
The book also contains an overview of technical issues on the use of recycled glass, and features artwork and projects made from recovered glass from around the world.
There are some great works and images of projects, including works by DC area artists Nikki O'Neill, Bill Hess and Cindy Ann Coldiron.

Some of the notable works included in the book:

"Glass on Stone"
Erwin Timmers, 120" x 20" x 2", kiln cast recycled window glass
photo by Anything Photographic

Our Erwin Timmers' environmental themed artwork has an attractive spread in the book. Erwin's work has been in a number of art book publications this past year - his work has become increasingly popular. Erwin will be showing at Cincinatti's Brazee Street Gallery in March.

Australian artists that work in recycled glass are also featured in the book - including some spectacular projects by Mark Wotherspoon. Mark reclaims glass from television tubes and creates evocative figures from the hard glass.

"Revelation of Death"
Mark Wotherspoon, 6' x 8' x 8', kiln-cast television screen glass

Have a look at this fascinating look at artists that are looking to create environmentally sustainable artwork.

13 February 2012

Who Loves You, Baby? Feel the Love.

For Valentines Day - choose your romantical favorite:

Smackdown! Lionell VS Rick VS Kojack


Big Hugs! from all at Washington Glass School!

*get the Rick Astley tshirt

11 February 2012

The Process - Erwin Timmers Cast Glass Bottles

From This:

To This:

artist: Erwin Timmers; materials: cast recycled glass

As part of the ongoing series titled " The Process" that documents the methodology of an artist or technique - the work of Erwin Timmers is the feature of today's pictorial.

Eco-artist Erwin Timmers creates artwork with environmental themes, and he works with materials that are diverted from the waste stream. As he prepares for the upcoming Smithsonian Craft Show, he invited us to have a look at how he starts the casting process as he creates his beautiful glass sculptures.

Working within his concepts of sustainable design and art, Erwin sourced glass from the US Probate Courthouse, in Greenbelt, MD for his artwork that was slated to end up in the trash dump.

Using plastic bottles cleared from the Anacostia River watershed (of which there was plenty to choose from), Erwin coats the bottles with a plaster/silica coating.

Using plastic bottles cleared from the Anacostia River watershed (of which there was plenty to choose from), Erwin coats the bottles with a plaster/silica coating.

Erwin then fires the molds upside down in the kiln, melting out the plastic bottles.

Erwin extracts the remains of the plastic bottles from the molds.

Erwin then takes the cleaned molds and sets them in a bed of sand inside the glass kiln.

Erwin prepares flower pots act as reservoirs to hold the recycled tempered glass during the firing process.

Erwin loads the cleaned glass into the reservoirs and sets the kiln.

After the firing, the glass is divested from the plaster and polished.

Look for Erwin's artwork at the Smithsonian Craft Fair - April 19-22, 2012.