Although I grew up in Corning and had visited the Museum before, I never could have guessed the impact glass would have on my life. When I began working at the Museum as an Explainer in high school, a new world was opened up for me as I learned about the history, science, and technology of glass from curators and other experts. My curiosity about this material grew after watching dozens of Hot Glass Shows, and I started taking classes at The Studio when I was 17 years old.
I explored flameworking and glassblowing techniques through The Studio for the past several years and found my niche in flameworked jewelry. In my work, I enjoy pushing the limits of the soft glass I work with, which is sensitive to temperature shifts and prone to cracking, by creating sculptural beads. Recently, I have been focusing on expressive sculptural pieces, which are great for display but are not intended to be worn. Ultimately, my objective is to create quality pieces of wearable art, so to steer myself in that direction, I took Don Friedlich’s class, Coldworking: Jewelry and Sculptural Forms class at The Studio this September.
I admire the gemstone-like quality of coldworked jewelry and sculptures by artists like Martin Rosol and Pavel Novak, and I wanted to gain an understanding of how they worked and be able to find my own use for the techniques. In the class I learned how to cut glass with diamond saws, grind with flat wheels and lathes, polish, engrave, and drill holes. It opened me up to shapes and finishes that can be achieved by the gradual removal of cold glass. Don also dedicated a portion of the class to jewelry assembly – findings, mechanisms, and glues. In retrospect, I don’t know how we managed to fit so much material into six days.
The Museum, The Studio, and the Rakow Research Library are all phenomenal resources, and I am very fortunate to have them so close to me. The Studio facilities are well-maintained and well-stocked with quality tools and quality technicians, and I often feel spoiled when I’m there. For instance, in class I discovered that the coldshop runs heated water to the machines, providing maximum comfort while working. Being a student at The Studio involves other perks, like lectures, opportunities to meet with experts in glass art and research, lessons on how to photograph glass, and in-depth tours.
My other experiences during the week were invaluable. My class met with the Curatorial Assistant of Modern Glass to look at modern jewelry that is not currently on display. Former Steuben engraver Max Erlacher stopped by to give a demonstration of engraving cuts. I got a massage halfway through the week by a masseuse The Studio brings in for students, empowering my body to keep working through the busy schedule. On top of that, I spent the week with interesting, creative people who share my passion for glass and my passion for jewelry.
All of this was made possible by the Celebrity Cruises Glassmaking Scholarship I received. It not only paid for tuition – it gave me the stress-free, glass-centric week I had been craving for a long time. I now feel more refreshed, inspired, and motivated than ever before and I can’t wait to get started on materializing some of my new ideas.