At the end of March, a team of glassmakers from The Corning Museum of Glass took the Mobile Hot Shop to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the annual Glass Art Society Conference. This three-day conference attracts between 1,000 and 2,000 glass artists and takes place in a different city every year. The Museum will often bring a mobile glass shop as an additional venue for artists invited to demonstrate at the conference.
Of course, for a city to host a GAS conference, they must have a vibrant glass scene and St. Pete has certainly become a hot spot for contemporary glass. I was amazed by how much there was to see at venues across the town. Glass studios like Zen Glass Studio, Duncan McClellan Gallery, and the Morean Arts Center have set the stage for the burgeoning popularity of glass here by creating spaces that support local collectors and generate regional interest in the material.
Visitors to St. Pete can also see great collections of glass on display. The Chihuly Collection is a permanent display of some of Dale Chihuly’s most popular series. The Imagine Museum is a collection of over 500 objects representing the last 50 years of studio glass. Many of today’s most admired glass artists are represented at the Imagine Museum in dramatic displays, highlighting the versatility of glass as a creative material. We were fortunate to be hosted by the Imagine Museum and their wonderful staff.
To set up the CMoG Mobile Hot Shop, we typically arrive at least a week in advance. On the Friday we arrived, we installed the propane and electrical service required to heat our furnaces to 2100°F. Over the following days, the furnace slowly comes up to temperature and we fill it with glass. By Wednesday evening, we were ready for showtime and our first public demonstration. To kick off the GAS conference, the Imagine Museum brought in veteran glassmaker Richard Jolley to work on our stage followed by a group of local glassblowers, the “St. Pete All Stars.”
Over the next three days, we hosted six glass artists from across the country and even an artist who traveled from Australia. Our own glassmakers, George Kennard and Chris Rochelle, were on-hand to assist and to make sure the artists had everything they needed. Each of the artists were given two hours to create an object highlighting their personal style or showing some of the tricks they use to create successful and unique objects.
The Corning Museum of Glass is proud to be a key partner of the Glass Art Society. By working with GAS over the years, we have traveled to cities across the country, enabling thousands of glass enthusiasts to see great artists at work and to connect the local glass communities with the Museum. We invite artists and conference attendees to come to Corning, N.Y., to experience all the Museum—and glass— has to offer.