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Glass as art.

Glass as art

Fanciful or functional, glass as an art form is enjoying widespread popularity. Its light-gathering, flowing character is revealed in nearly as many ways as there are artists working with it. In addition to one-of-a-kind works of art like those shown at right, the array of handmade pieces-- including goblets, bowls, vases, paperweights --is dazzling.

This explosion of creativity has captured the attention of Western art lovers. In galleries, corporate art collections, museums, and studios, exciting new work is on view. Yet modern glass remains both collectible and affordable. Prices can start as low as $20 for a wine goblet or a vase produced in quantity, climbing to $25,000 for a one-of-a-kind sculpture by a well-known artist. For galleries, studios, and museums, featuring glass, see page 99.

Should you decide to try your hand (and breath) at working with glass, we give details about four art schools. Some community and state colleges and universities also offer classes.

Why today's interest in glass?

Until the early 1960s, the expense of building huge industrial glass furnaces and holding them at high temperatures had limited the working of glass to factory production. Then, artist Harvey Littleton, assisted by chemist and inventor Dominick Labino, designed and built a studiosize, relatively inexpensive glass furnace.

No longer was this craft reserved for a select few. Now artists were willing to share as they reinvented old techniques and experimented with new ones.

Littleton taught students at the University of Wisconsin, and some of them-- including Marvin Lipofsky of the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in Oakland, and Dale Chihuly, co-founder of the Pilchuck Glass School, near Seattle --started programs on the West Coast.

In the Northwest, Pilchuck (a summer program) is a mecca, as is CCAC in the Bay Area. Both schools attract artists from all over the world. A concentration of glass studios and galleries in Los Angeles serves a receptive public.

Technical advances and the proliferation of artists who taught others helped make possible the subsequent flowering of glass artistry. Also since the 1960s, development of equipment as well as availability of quality raw materials has continued, enhancing the quality of art glass.

What are the techniques?

Basic glass formula contains silica (fine sand), alkali (soda or potash) to lower its melting point, lime as a stabilizer, waste glass (called cullet) to assist in melting. Artists add metallic oxides for color, or other chemicals to vary properties in the finished product. Because it's simpler, many artists today just use cullet. Glass artists use many techniques, often in combination. Here are some of them.

Blow: to shape molten glass by blowing air into it through a blowpipe.

Cased: glass has two or more layers of different colors, with outer layer(s) cut away to show interior colors.

Colored threads: thin strands of glass added in different ways for different effects.

Etch: to create a design by scratching the surface of finished glass with a tool or treating it with acid.

Fume: to spray metal salts on warm glass, which is then reheated to give iridescence.

Fuse: to melt together various colors or designs of glass in a kiln.

Laminate: using heat or glue to join pieces.

Multilayered: a cased-glass technique, adding other colors to a basic shape to create designs.

Plate glass: a clear thick sheet, often with a greenish cast.

Sandblast: to blow or blast sand or carborundum onto a piece; this etches or blasts away layers of glass; masking some areas creates design.

Sand-cast: to ladle glass into a shaped mold made in special casting sand.

Slump: to heat a sheet of glass in a mold until it's soft enough to assume a shape, but not molten.

Wire drawing: a cloisonne-like technique. The artist makes wire drawings, fills in with enamel or bits of glass.

How difficult is it?

It takes a long time to develop skill. What looks easy in a demonstration is much more difficult than learning to throw a pot, and it takes several classes to get predictable results. But even beginning students we talked to felt they were better able to appreciate the beauty of finished pieces when they understood the process.

Working with glass is a team effort full of camaraderie. It's physically demanding, in some aspects more sport than art.

If you would like to try, a number of state and community colleges offer beginning to advanced classes. Among them are Chico, San Francisco, and San Jose state universities in California; Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona; the University of Hawaii; and Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande. Cost is about $170 per quarter, $300 per semester.

Viewing and choosing fine glass

Modern art glass remains both collectible and affordable. Though the work of well-known artists may be too expensive for all but dedicated collectors, new talent surfaces continually; you'll often find exceptional work at beginners' prices.

To make a living, many glass artists devote a few months each year to producing wine goblets, paper weights, perfume bottles, Christmas tree ornaments, vases, plates, and the like at reasonable prices for the work involved. An artist may spend long hours finishing a piece, and making glass is a costly process; gas for firing even a small furnace can run to several hundred dollars a month.

How can you recognize and choose a high-quality piece of glass? Visiting museums and specialty galleries is a good way to start. Museums often have permanent collections, though they're not always on display. Foremost by far is Corning Museum of Glass, in Corning, New York. The American Craft Museum, in New York City, will open new headquarters on October 26, and the works in the opening show (including glass) will travel next year to art museums in Denver and in Laguna Beach, California.

Choosing a piece is most importantly a personal thing: you're attracted by its changing optics, its colors, its sparkle. Next study its craftsmanship: look for blobs of glass where they don't belong, edges that don't meet smoothly. And finally, rely on the recommendations of a gallery that specializes in glass.

Shows; studios and galleries

We list two current museum shows followed by studios where you can see glass being blown or worked and perhaps buy pieces, and galleries that regularly sell glass. Call studios for an appointment; call galleries for hours and special shows.

Museum of Neon Art, 704 Traction Ave., Los Angeles 90013; (213) 617-1580. September 16 to January 3, 1987: Eric Zimmerman recent works; eight neon and kinetic artists. Open 11 to 6 Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission $2.50.

San Jose Museum of Art, 110 S. Market St., San Jose 95113; (408) 294-2787. September 6 through November 2: "Transparent Motives.'


Caliente Glass Works, 1721 E. Factory Ave., Suite N, Tucson 85719; (602) 623-3537. By appointment.

The Hand and The Spirit Gallery, 4222 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale 85251; 949-1262.

Obsidian Gallery, 4340 N. Campbell Ave., Suite 90, Tucson 85718; 577-3598.

Philabaum-Carlson Glass Gallery and Studio, 711 S. Sixth Ave., Tucson 85701; 884-7404.

Stephen Jon Clements Studio, 25 E. Sixth St., #2, Tucson 85705; 792-9535.


Compositions in Art Glass and Wood, The Cannery, Third Floor, San Francisco; (415) 441-0629.

Elaine Potter Gallery, 336 Hayes St., San Francisco 94102; (415) 431-8511.

Fine Glass, 1800 Fourth St., Berkeley 94710; (415) 845-4270.

Orient and Flume, 2161 Park Ave., Chico 95928; (916) 893-0373.

Susan Cummins Gallery, 32 Miller Ave., Mill Valley 94941; (415) 383-1512.

Walter White Fine Art Gallery, 107 Capitola Ave., Capitola 95010; (408) 476-7001. Also in Carmel: Seventh at San Carlos (Box 4834), 624-4957; and San Carlos at Fifth, 624-4390.

Bay Area Studio Art Glass (BASAG) holds its yearly winter sale December 4 through 7 from 11 to 5 at these studios:

Emeryville Art Glass, 5755 Landregan St., Emeryville 94608; (415) 654-9690.

Maslach Art Glass, 44 Industrial Way, Greenbrae 94904; (415) 924-2310.

Nourot Glass Studio, 670-A East H St., Benicia 94510; (707) 745-1463.

R. Strong Glass, 1235 Fourth St., Berkeley 94710; (415) 525-3150.

Stephan Smyers Glass, 670-B East H St., Benicia 94510; (707) 745-2614.

Zellique Art Glass, 670-Z East H St., Benicia 94510; (707) 745-5710.

Several times a year, visiting glass artists give lectures and demonstrations at CCAC. For details, call (415) 653-8118.

California Glass Information Exchange meets yearly and next March will be in the Bay Area. To get on mailing list, write to CCAC Glass Program, 5212 Broadway, Oakland 94618.


Clear Horizon Glass Gallery, 867 W. Harbor Dr., Seaport Village, San Diego 92101; (619) 234-0838.

Del Mano Gallery and Studio, 11981 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles 90049; (213) 476-8508.

Eileen Kremen Gallery (formerly Designs Recycled), 619 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton 92632; (714) 879-1391.

Elizabeth Fortner Gallery, 1114 State St., #9, Santa Barbara 93101; (805) 966-2613.

Kurland/Summers Gallery, 8742-A Melrose Ave., Los Angeles 90069; (213) 659-7098.

Lane Gallery, 173 Horton Plaza, San Diego 92101; (619) 234-4234.

Running Ridge Gallery, 310 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai 93023; (805) 646-1525.

The Seekers Collection and Gallery, 4090 Burton Dr. (Box 521), Cambria 93428; (805) 927-4352.


Blake Street Glass Studio, 3433 Blake St., Denver 80205; (303) 296-1072.

Carson-Sapiro Gallery, 2601 Blake St., Denver 80205; 297-8585.

Show of Hands Gallery, 2440 E. Third Ave., Denver 80206; 399-0201.


Zweifel Art Glass Studio, Box 1261, Ketchum 83340; (208) 788-3311.


Clay and Fiber Gallery, N. Pueblo Rd. (Box ZZ), Taos 87571; (505) 758-8093.

Contemporary Craftsman Gallery, 100 W. San Francisco St., Santa Fe 87501; 988-1001.

Gloryhole Glassworks, Route 14, Box 227, La Cienega 87505. On State Highway 22, 10 miles south of Santa Fe; take exist 271 off Interstate 24.

La Mesa Santa Fe, 225 Johnson St., Santa Fe 87501; 984-1688.

Mariposa Gallery, 113 Romero St. N.W., Albuquerque 87104; 842-9097.

Running Ridge Gallery, 640 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe 87501; 988-2515.


Contemporary Crafts Association, 3934 S.W. Corbett Ave., Portland 97201; (503) 223-2654.

Lawrence Gallery, 842 S.W. First Ave., Portland 97204; 224-9442. Also at Box 148, Gleneden Beach 97388, 764-2318; and Box 187, Sheridan 97378 843-3633.

O'Connell Gallery, 25 S.W. Salmon St., Portland 97204; 220-0330.

The Real Mother Goose, 901 S.W. Yamhill, Portland 97205; 223-9510. Also at Washington Square Mall, Portland 97223; 620-2243.

White Bird Gallery, 251 N. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach 97110; 436-2681.


Foster-White Gallery, Poineer Square, 311 1/2 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle 98104; (206) 622-2833. $gGlass Eye Gallery, 1902 Post Alley, Seattle 98101; 441-3221.

Glasshouse Art Glass, Pioneer Square, 311 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle 98104; 682-9939.

Interior Reflections Gallery, 7671 S.E. 27th St., Mercer Island 98040; 236-1781.

Measolini Glass Studio, 13291 Madison Ave. N.E., Bainbridge Island 98110; 842-7133.

Panaca Gallery, 133 Bellevue Square, Bellevue 98004; 454-0234.

Richard Ian Green Gallery, lower level of Four Seasons Olympic Hotel, 411 University St., Seattle 98101; 622-6330.

Traver-Sutton Gallery, 2219 Fourth Ave., Seattle 98121, 622-4234.

On November 15, Pilchuck Glass School will hold an auction of glass by its artists in the Spanish Ballroom of the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel; $75 per person includes preview, dinner, and auction; call the school at (206) 621-8422 or write to the school at the address given on page 99.


Laurie Thal Studio, Star Route 352A, Jackson 83001; (307) 733-5096.

Photo: Artists of Bay Area Studio Art Glass (BASAG) sell seconds, firsts, and one-of-a-kind pieces from their studios. This is Emeryville Art Glass

Photo: Glass blower Matt Meis shapes molten glass for intent watchers at California College of Arts and Crafts open house in Oakland

Photo: This is glass? Sculpture in newly redone Roosevelt Hotel lobby in Hollywood is show stopper. Artist: John Luebtow

Photo: Diversity of techniques is illustrated by 11 artists' works; see glossary on facing page. 1 Sidney R. Hutter. 2 Harvey K. Littleton. 3 Edigio Constantini, designed by Picasso. 4 Ann Wolff. 5 Dan Dailey. 6 Robert Hurlstone. 7 Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick. 8 Howard Ben Tre. 9 Klaus Moje. 10 Dale Chihuly. 11 David Huchthausen. Pieces are from collection of Dorothy and George Saxe

1 Laminated plate glass

2 Cased glass

3 Cast

4 Etched

5 Sandblasted

6 Fumed

7 Wire drawings

8 Sandcast with copper

9 Fused and slumped

10 Blown with colored threads

11 Multilayered blown glass CCAC (5212 Broadway, Oakland 94618) and Pratt Fine Art Center (1902 S. Main St., Seattle 98144) offer classes year-round; cost ranges from $250 to $800. Pilchuck (mailing address: 107 S. Main St., #324, Seattle 98104) and Camp Colton, near Portland (Colton 97017), offer summer classes only; these are intense, live-in situations. Two- and three-week sessions at Pilchuck cost $710 to $1,680, depending on class and accommodations; one- and two-week ones at Colton cost $480 and $875.

Photo: Beginning student practices blowing her first bubble in glass--"easier than blowing a balloon.' Professor Marvin Lipofsky of CCAC assists while other students watch
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Oct 1, 1986
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