To celebrate the expansion of the Museum, the team at The Corning Museum of Glass Shops reached out to Alfred University to discuss the possibility of commissioning a piece for sale. After conversations with Angus Powers, associate professor of glass at Alfred University, and Shaun Griffiths, Alfred University’s resident instructor of glass, the project got underway. Undergraduate-level glass students were tasked with creating the design for a piece, having the piece approved by the Shops’ buyers, creating the products, and delivering them in time for the expansion celebration- all within a three-week time-frame.
CMoG buyer Meghan Bunnell said, “The excitement for the expansion of the Museum has been tremendous and we wanted to create an opportunity for artists to use this monumental moment for the glass community as inspiration. We have many great artists and designers within the glass community and it seemed like a natural choice to work with students to develop this particular project.”
Creating an estimated cost for the commissioned piece and working to create a cost-effective, marketable design proved to be an excellent exercise. The students visited the Museum, toured the Museum Shops, and sat down with Bunnell to get a handle on the parameters of the project. A list of questions helped guide their market research: What is prominently displayed? What is on clearance? What colors are being used in the products? What else is in a similar price range to the product they were going to design?
A design by artist Dan Mirer inspired the students’ interest in using a graphite mold to create a cast glass object. According to instructor Shaun Griffiths, both the students and instructors agreed that creating using a graphite mold to create the piece “was one of the strengths of Alfred’s facility and would allow us to create the units the most cost effectively.”
Shortly after their visit, the students submitted individual proposals and did a blind vote to select the most promising designs. The chosen proposals were submitted to Bunnell for approval, and, once the final design was selected, Corning-based Tobeyco Manufacturing translated the design into CAD.
Any reservations that may have existed about a piece designed and created by students quickly dissipated as the team worked together to complete this ambitious project. It took a 10-hour marathon casting session to produce the one hundred units that were delivered to CMoG.
“It required a lot of help from the faculty, but the students worked tirelessly to fulfill the deadlines,” said Griffiths, “We are proud of the results.”
Expressing enthusiasm about this project, one student said, “The opportunity was exciting to us. Having our work for sale at the Museum is such a feeling of accomplishment.”
Participating Alfred University students were invited to attend the expansion celebration and spoke with customers about the process. At the expansion celebration, one student commented, “Being here is so exciting, there are many glass artists that we study and having our work here in the Shops is very cool.” She went on to say, “I am excited to use this experience to help me after graduation.”
Griffiths added, “I believe my students walked away with a new respect for the difficulty of bringing even simple designs to market…. Overall, this project was an excellent learning opportunity for all involved and a special moment where juniors in college got a healthy dose of real world experience.”
The limited edition bowl, entitled Footprint, is modeled after the floor plan of the new Contemporary Art + Design Wing. Now available in the Shops, the piece celebrates an exciting moment in the history of The Corning Museum of Glass, and affirms the value of creative collaboration.
Participating Alfred University students include: Roselynn Denne, Lauren Fix, Mary Gasper, Jeremy Hansen, Peter Imus, Chelsea Leung, Dylan Muller, Trevor Ninos, Francesca Souza, Samantha Zaremski, and Staci Zerphey.