Things to do while a Studio student … besides going to class

Every year The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass hosts more than 1,000 students in its glassmaking classes. We are getting ready to welcome students from all over the country to our 2017 summer classes. Here are a few things students can look forward to during their time in Corning.

Tour 3,500 years of glass

Tour 3,500 years of glass

1. Go on a tour of the museum’s historical collections.
Join our resident adviser, Bill Gudenrath, for a private tour of the museum’s historical collections. Tour 3,500 years of glass with an insightful glass master.

2. See amazing large-scale sculptures at Corning Incorporated headquarters.
See 11 glass sculptures displayed in the headquarters building of Corning Incorporated. No photography is allowed, so it’s a great opportunity to see works of masters up close and personal. This is not open to the public so you can only go as part of your class.

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Hidden treasures within The Neustadt’s Tiffany Glass Archive

Racks of sheet glass used by Tiffany Studios.

Racks of sheet glass used by Tiffany Studios.
The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, New York.
©The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, New York.

Tucked away in a nondescript warehouse in Queens, New York, is a library unlike any you’ve seen before. Carefully stored in towering aisles of wooden cubbies are more than a quarter of a million pieces of Tiffany glass in a seemingly endless array of rich colors, bold patterns, and intriguing textures. This “library” is the repository of a unique trove of original material once used by Louis C. Tiffany’s studios to create his celebrated leaded glass windows, lampshades, and mosaics. The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass is its proud custodian.

When Tiffany’s firm closed in 1937, all remaining stock was sold. The liquidation sales included a vast inventory of flat glass, ranging from full, uncut sheets to shards the size of a fingernail, as well as a tantalizing assortment of glass “jewels” (pictured below left) Early Tiffany collector and museum founder Dr. Egon Neustadt (American, born Austria, 1898–1984) recognized the historical value of this material and purchased it in 1967. Today, this one-of-a-kind collection is an invaluable archive and offers important insights into Tiffany’s artistic legacy in glass. Read more →

Portland-mania!

Copy of the Portland Vase, Josiah Wedgwood, Etruria, England, about 1790

The Mona Lisa, Leonardo DaVinci’s iconic painting in the Louvre, might be the most famous work of art in the world right now. It has inspired memes, selfies, movies, and not an insignificant number of inquiries into the subject’s enigmatic ‘smile’. A 2,000-year-old Roman glass vase inspired similar wonderment and emulation in the 1700s and 1800s. That famous glass vase became known as the Portland Vase.

The modern history of the vase began in the 1600s, when it was owned by a series of wealthy Italian families. It eventually landed in the hands of the powerful Barberini family, who owned it for over 150 years. Sometime before 1778, Princess Cordelia Barberini-Colonna had a bad run at cards and lost the vase to a Scottish art dealer. In 1784, the vase was sold to Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, the dowager duchess of Portland, after whom the vase takes its modern name. William Bentinck, the 4th Duke of Portland, lent the vase to the British Museum in London in 1810, and the institution purchased the vase from the heirs in 1945. The vase caused a sensation among the glitterati of Georgian and Victorian England, who were entranced by its mysterious origins, manufacturing technique, and iconography.

The Corning Museum of Glass and Rakow Research Library contain dozens of objects, drawings, and print materials inspired by the Portland Vase. Some of these materials are featured in Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library, on display at the Library until February 2019.

Commemorative statue of Josiah Wedgwoood

Commemorative statue of Josiah
Wedgwood in Stoke-on-Trent.
Photograph by Stephen McKay,
CC BY-SA 2.0
(https://commons.wikimedia.org/
w/index.php?curid=13845904)

Josiah Wedgwood, a highly-accomplished ceramicist and businessman, was so inspired by the Portland Vase that he set out to recreate it using his preferred medium of jasperware. It took Wedgwood and his team four years to successfully imitate the Portland Vase in ceramic. When they finally did in 1790, they hosted gala events to show off the accomplishment by selling tickets and hosting Queen Charlotte of Great Britain. Wedgwood’s son, Josiah II, toured the vase around Europe to sell additional copies. Many of these “first editions,” made with a grey-black body and white figures, survive in museums today including one at The Corning Museum of Glass. The Wedgwood firm continued to produce versions for decades afterward. Wedgwood was so closely associated with the Portland Vase that his commemorative statue in Stoke-on-Trent, erected in 1863, shows him holding the vase.

Wedgwood’s obsession, in turn, may have inspired his close friend and family doctor Erasmus Darwin. We know from correspondence between the two that Wedgwood sent his first successful ceramic copy to Darwin in September 1789, requesting that Darwin not show it to anyone else (a request Darwin admitted to not following). Darwin was, at the time, engrossed in his own magnum opus, a lengthy poem describing principles of botany and other scientific concepts using eroticized language. But he couldn’t resist a small digression to refer to his friend and their mutual passion for the Portland Vase:

And pleased on Wedgwood ray your partial smile.
A new Etruria decks Britannia isle …
Charm’d by your touch, the kneaded clay refines,
The biscuit hardens, the enamel shines;
Each nicer mould a softer feature drinks,
The bold Cameo speaks, the soft Intaglio thinks.

Engraving by William Blake, from The Botanic Garden: a poem, in two parts, Erasmus Darwin

Engraving by William Blake, from
The Botanic Garden: a poem, in two parts,
Erasmus Darwin, London, Printed for
J. Johnson, 1791, CMGL 119090

The Botanic Garden: a poem, in two parts also includes several pages of prose about the Portland Vase and Darwin’s interpretation of its iconography, accompanied by engraved illustrations of the vase by William Blake.

We can imagine Darwin and Wedgwood sitting down over a glass of port to discuss how the Portland Vase was made and what the scenes meant. Erasmus’ son Robert and Josiah’s daughter Susannah eventually married. In 1809 they welcomed a son, Charles Darwin, whose fame eventually surpassed that of his grandfathers. Charles Darwin’s sea voyage on the ship Beagle, where he observed Pacific island finches, helped lead to the theory of evolution through natural selection. Perhaps the Portland Vase, with its symbols of birth and fertility, is just a little bit responsible for bringing Wedgwood and Darwin and their families together and giving rise to modern science.

See the first successful glass replica of the Portland Vase, made almost 100 years after Wedgwood’s ceramic version, in the 35 Centuries of Glass gallery, then head over to the Library to view the ceramic vase and Darwin’s Botanic Garden poem in Curious and Curiouser.



Curious and Curiouser: Surprising Finds from the Rakow Library is on view at Rakow Research Library at The Corning Museum of Glass April 8, 2017, through February 17, 2019. Learn more about the exhibition.

Thatcher Glass: A history of innovation

This post is written by Thatcher project digitization assistant Christina Baker. Read more about the Thatcher project and collection in previous posts.

By now, you may be familiar with the existence of the Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Co., which was located in Elmira, N.Y., for the better part of the 20th century. The bottles that Thatcher produced revolutionized the way milk was delivered to consumers. Wait, you don’t know about Thatcher? Hold on to your glass of milk, you are about to get a history lesson!

Dr. Thatcher notices a problem

Advertisement with man milking cow and new milk protector pails

Dr. Thatcher’s Original Milk Protector
(CMGL AI87250)

A druggist named Dr. Hervey D. Thatcher in Potsdam, N.Y., created the milk bottle as we know it. In the 1870s, he noticed a problem with the milk delivery system. Dairy wagons would go from house to house and deliver milk by way of a large metal container. The delivery man, or milkman, would use a dipper to ladle milk from this container and transfer it to a pitcher or other container at each home. Many times, by the end of the route, the milk would be contaminated with an assortment of debris. To solve this problem, Dr. Thatcher developed a milk pail preventing contamination during the milking process. This invention was called the “Milk Protector” and it was a covered pail with two funnels that would slide directly onto the teats of the cow being milked. It prevented hair, dirt, and insects from contaminating the milk. This “Milk Protector” was patented in 1883.

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The Studio Announces 2017 Artists-in-Residence

Martin Janecky
February 13-March 20; Public lecture on March 9

Study of the Dia De Los Muertos, at Corning Museum of Glass 2016. By Martin Janecky.

Study of the Día De Los Muertos, at Corning
Museum of Glass 2016. By Martin Janecky.

Martin Janecky began his career with glass at the age of 13 and later explored sculpting methods in the Czech Republic. Janecky teaches and demonstrates around the world, including at The Studio. In March 2016, he was an Artist-in-Residence, during which time he experimented with opaline glass made at The Studio to further his sculptural work. The following week he was a Guest Artist in the Amphitheater Hot Shop, and created a body of work inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). Read more →

CMoG to make waves with GlassBarge

Here at The Corning Museum of Glass, our mission is to tell the world about an incredible material that captivates and excites us all—namely, glass! In order to fulfill that mission, we don’t wait for the world to come to us—although 460,000 visitors made their way to Corning last year—we take our story out into the world.

The Corning Museum of Glass Road Show in Seattle, Wash.

The Corning Museum of Glass Road Show in Seattle, Wash.

In 2002, we launched the Hot Glass Roadshow, a project that converted a semi-trailer into a fully-functioning glassmaking studio on wheels. We also transformed a standard shipping container into a studio space. This unique equipment and its small footprint make it possible for CMoG to deploy glassmaking to nearly any environment. Our first deployment was the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and, since then, our mobile hot shops have traveled the world stopping in places like Paris, Seattle, South Australia, and New York City. We’ve even circumnavigated the globe aboard Celebrity Cruises, a partnership that began in 2008, and one that enables us to tell the story of glass at sea. Read more →

Corning Museum of Glass Unveils 2016 Rakow Commission by Thaddeus Wolfe

Stacked Grid Structure by Thaddeus Wolfe

Stacked Grid Structure
Thaddeus Wolfe (American, born 1979)
Made in United States, Brooklyn, New York, 2016
Mold-blown glass with brass inclusions
2016.4.9, 31st Rakow Commission

The Corning Museum of Glass unveiled Stacked Grid Structure, this year’s Rakow Commission by Brooklyn-based American artist Thaddeus Wolfe.

Wolfe creates multi-layered, highly-textured, angular mold-blown vessels, sculptures, and lighting fixtures. Stacked Grid Structure, like Wolfe’s other objects, was made by blowing glass into a one-time-use plaster silica mold cast over a carved Styrofoam positive. Creating his molds in this way enables Wolfe to force the material into structures that are at odds with the fluid nature of molten glass.

Stacked Grid Structure is the perfect artifact of its time,” said Susie Silbert, curator of modern and contemporary glass. “A bold and inventively made object, it bridges craft, design, and art in its production, conception, and ambition, exemplifying the blurred boundaries that make contemporary glass such an exciting field today.” Read more →