Scanning Pilchuck: 50 Years and 70,000 Photos!

I doubt there is anyone in the glass community who is unfamiliar with Pilchuck Glass School located outside of Seattle, Washington. Founded by Dale Chihuly and patrons Anne and John Hauberg, its rise from experimental workshop to international glass center is a modern-day fairytale with one small twist—in this version, Cinderella makes her own glass slippers. 

2021 will mark Pilchuck’s 50th anniversary and it has partnered with the Rakow Research Library to digitize over 70,000 images from Pilchuck’s archives. For the better part of two years (less the seven months spent in lockdown), that project has been mine. I am Ann Cady, digitization assistant at the Rakow and it is my responsibility to spin this analog straw into digital gold. 

To the rest of the world, Pilchuck looks something like this: rolling hills, smiling artists, blazing gloryholes, and more than a few familiar faces. 

Iconic image of Pilchuck in its first few years. 
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Discovering the Mysteries of Glass: Dr. Robert H. Brill, a memorial

Dr. Robert H. Brill

The Corning Museum of Glass has lost another great in Dr. Robert H. Brill who died in Corning on April 7. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

Dr. Brill, who served as the Museum’s director from 1972-1975 and led the Museum’s recovery in the wake of the 1972 flood, spent more than 50 years as a dedicated scholar of scientific research, the academic field, his professional friends and colleagues, the Museum, and the ceaselessly fascinating material of glass, whose many secrets he meticulously unlocked.

Dr. Brill joined the Museum’s staff in 1960 as a research scientist having previously earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Upsala College and completed his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Rutgers University in 1954. For a brief time, he returned to Upsala to teach chemistry.

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Forgotten Pasts: Researching Native American Obsidian Objects in the Collection of The Corning Museum of Glass

Museums don’t know everything about the objects in their collections. As Curator of Ancient Glass at The Corning Museum of Glass, one of my responsibilities is to research the objects in our ancient glass collection and ensure we have accurate and current information about them. 

Display of Native American obsidian objects in the Study Gallery, Summer 2020.

In summer 2020, I began to study the two dozen or so pieces in our collection that are made of obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass, which were attributed to North American origins. Some of our obsidian pieces were displayed in the Glass in Nature case, with the naturally occurring glasses, while others were in the Study Gallery, with objects from the ancient Mediterranean. We didn’t have good labels or information in either gallery space.

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Photographing Glass: Revisiting the Morgan Cup 30 Years On

I recently had the opportunity to photograph one of my favorite pieces from our collection, the Morgan Cup (52.1.93), which is a beautiful example of Roman cameo glass. The cup was once in the collection of J. Pierpont Morgan, from whom it got its name, and was given to The Corning Museum of Glass in 1952 by Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. For more information on the Morgan Cup, read this detailed history by David Whitehouse, former director of the Museum.

The Morgan Cup (52.1.93).

The last time the Morgan Cup was fully photographed was in 1990, six years before I started at the Museum, when it was captured on 4×5 transparency film. The transparencies were later scanned, but technology has advanced considerably since that time and I was excited to see how well the cup could be captured with the highly advanced digital equipment we have today—both for detail and color fidelity.

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No Sign of Slowing Down: The Corning Museum of Glass Turns 70!

For America, the 1950s was a decade of highs and lows. In the wake of the second world war, the nation experienced a booming economy, a rapidly growing population, and watched as its cities and suburbs spread across the land to house a new generation. But the 50s were also the dawn of new conflicts, including the Cold War and the fight for Civil Rights.

In the spring of 1951, five people witnessed the unfolding of this new America from the small galleries and offices of the newly opened Corning Museum of Glass. Those five made up the entire staff back then! Conceived as an educational institution entirely separate from its benefactor, Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), the Museum sought to expand the world’s understanding of glass. And ever since, the Museum has inspired people to see glass in a new light, a mission that remains at the forefront of our institutional culture 70 years later.

The Corning Museum of Glass in 1951.

To celebrate the Museum’s 70th anniversary, we’ve taken a trip through the archives to highlight some unforgettable moments.

So, let’s go back to where it all began.

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Curating a Lifetime: Jane Shadel Spillman, a memorial

Jane Shadel Spillman

The Corning Museum of Glass is deeply saddened by the passing of Jane Shadel Spillman, our former curator of American glass who retired in 2013 after a CMoG career that spanned nearly five decades. Jane joined the Museum’s 13-person staff in June 1965 as a research assistant and curator of education and became an internationally recognized expert on American glass, developing the impressive collection we have today.

During her tenure at the Museum, Jane was a prolific author, beginning with Glassmaking: America’s First Industry (1976), a 35-page catalog in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. It was the Museum’s first major exhibition after the 1972 flood. This was followed by numerous books and catalogs, countless speeches and lectures, and the acquisition of thousands of objects for the Museum’s American glass collection and The Rakow Research Library holdings. Not to mention, the friendships forged across the globe, with glass amateurs and professionals alike, cementing Jane’s reputation as an expert in her field.

“Jane was a force within the glass and museum communities and helped shape our Museum for nearly half a century,” said Karol Wight, president and executive director. “Her contributions—in nearly every area—were numerous, and her impact in the field continues to be felt today.”

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Blown Away Contestant Cat Burns, a Star on the Rise

Glass artist Cat Burns, had a pretty interesting year in 2020, but she wasn’t able to talk about most of it until now. From studio instructor to TikTok sensation to star contestant on season 2 of the Netflix series Blown Away, Cat’s year was full both on and off the screen.

Cat Burns on the set of Blown Away Season 2. All Blown Away photos by David Leyes for marblemedia.

But it wasn’t always easy. Success, just like glassblowing itself, can take hours, weeks, months, and years to master. Ambition, hard work, dedication, and a belief that you can do anything can lead you to success, and these are all qualities that Cat has in abundance.

While Cat is enjoying her moment in the sun, we carved out a few minutes to ask her about the big reveal and discover what made 2020 so great.

 

What made you decide to apply for Blown Away Season 2?

I decided to try out for Blown Away to challenge myself. I live by a rule that if something scares me, I should try it, just to prove that I can. I applied to the first season and didn’t get in so I honestly applied thinking I wouldn’t get in again.

Read more →

The Life-Saving Work of Glass: Corning’s Valor Glass Houses COVID-19 Vaccine

The lightbulb. Pyrex®. Optical fiber. The catalytic converter. Gorilla® Glass. Valor® Glass. You’ve likely heard of most of these revolutionary innovations in glass, all of which came out of Corning, NY. And although the last one may be unfamiliar to you now, it’s about to serve a very significant purpose: housing and transporting the life-saving vaccine for COVID-19.  

Valor Glass Lab. Photo courtesy of Corning Incorporated.

Corning Incorporated has been on the cutting edge of glass innovation for nearly 170 years, providing solutions to problems and shaping the way we live our daily lives. It’s a company many across the world have never heard of, however, nearly everyone has interacted with technology developed here in this small town of 11,000 people.  

Although you likely don’t realize it, Corning’s technologies have played a role in how we’ve adapted to the COVID-era from the beginning. Never before has there been such an intense need to remain connected while we’re apart. And how have we done that? By interacting with each other through glass displays and transmitting all communications with co-workers, loved ones, and others, via optical fiber. We are literally connected by glass, and so it’s somehow unsurprising—yet immensely remarkable—that Corning’s technology is also on the frontlines of the fight against the virus itself.  

Read more →

No Sign of Slowing Down: The Corning Museum of Glass Turns 70!

For America, the 1950s was a decade of highs and lows. In the wake of the second world war, the nation experienced a booming economy, a rapidly growing population, and watched as its cities and suburbs spread across the land to house a new generation. But the 50s were also the dawn of new conflicts, including the Cold War and the fight for Civil Rights.

In the spring of 1951, five people witnessed the unfolding of this new America from the small galleries and offices of the newly opened Corning Museum of Glass. Those five made up the entire staff back then! Conceived as an educational institution entirely separate from its benefactor, Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), the Museum sought to expand the world’s understanding of glass. And ever since, the Museum has inspired people to see glass in a new light, a mission that remains at the forefront of our institutional culture 70 years later.

The Corning Museum of Glass in 1951.

To celebrate the Museum’s 70th anniversary, we’ve taken a trip through the archives to highlight some unforgettable moments.

So, let’s go back to where it all began.

Read more →

Curating a Lifetime: Jane Shadel Spillman, a memorial

Jane Shadel Spillman

The Corning Museum of Glass is deeply saddened by the passing of Jane Shadel Spillman, our former curator of American glass who retired in 2013 after a CMoG career that spanned nearly five decades. Jane joined the Museum’s 13-person staff in June 1965 as a research assistant and curator of education and became an internationally recognized expert on American glass, developing the impressive collection we have today.

During her tenure at the Museum, Jane was a prolific author, beginning with Glassmaking: America’s First Industry (1976), a 35-page catalog in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. It was the Museum’s first major exhibition after the 1972 flood. This was followed by numerous books and catalogs, countless speeches and lectures, and the acquisition of thousands of objects for the Museum’s American glass collection and The Rakow Research Library holdings. Not to mention, the friendships forged across the globe, with glass amateurs and professionals alike, cementing Jane’s reputation as an expert in her field.

“Jane was a force within the glass and museum communities and helped shape our Museum for nearly half a century,” said Karol Wight, president and executive director. “Her contributions—in nearly every area—were numerous, and her impact in the field continues to be felt today.”

Read more →

Blown Away Contestant Cat Burns, a Star on the Rise

Glass artist Cat Burns, had a pretty interesting year in 2020, but she wasn’t able to talk about most of it until now. From studio instructor to TikTok sensation to star contestant on season 2 of the Netflix series Blown Away, Cat’s year was full both on and off the screen.

Cat Burns on the set of Blown Away Season 2. All Blown Away photos by David Leyes for marblemedia.

But it wasn’t always easy. Success, just like glassblowing itself, can take hours, weeks, months, and years to master. Ambition, hard work, dedication, and a belief that you can do anything can lead you to success, and these are all qualities that Cat has in abundance.

While Cat is enjoying her moment in the sun, we carved out a few minutes to ask her about the big reveal and discover what made 2020 so great.

 

What made you decide to apply for Blown Away Season 2?

I decided to try out for Blown Away to challenge myself. I live by a rule that if something scares me, I should try it, just to prove that I can. I applied to the first season and didn’t get in so I honestly applied thinking I wouldn’t get in again.

Read more →

The Life-Saving Work of Glass: Corning’s Valor Glass Houses COVID-19 Vaccine

The lightbulb. Pyrex®. Optical fiber. The catalytic converter. Gorilla® Glass. Valor® Glass. You’ve likely heard of most of these revolutionary innovations in glass, all of which came out of Corning, NY. And although the last one may be unfamiliar to you now, it’s about to serve a very significant purpose: housing and transporting the life-saving vaccine for COVID-19.  

Valor Glass Lab. Photo courtesy of Corning Incorporated.

Corning Incorporated has been on the cutting edge of glass innovation for nearly 170 years, providing solutions to problems and shaping the way we live our daily lives. It’s a company many across the world have never heard of, however, nearly everyone has interacted with technology developed here in this small town of 11,000 people.  

Although you likely don’t realize it, Corning’s technologies have played a role in how we’ve adapted to the COVID-era from the beginning. Never before has there been such an intense need to remain connected while we’re apart. And how have we done that? By interacting with each other through glass displays and transmitting all communications with co-workers, loved ones, and others, via optical fiber. We are literally connected by glass, and so it’s somehow unsurprising—yet immensely remarkable—that Corning’s technology is also on the frontlines of the fight against the virus itself.  

Read more →