Oh no, kids please! | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co

Oh no, kids please!

OK, OK, so I deserted my post. It’s been a little crazy lately. I know I’m not alone when I say that. But amidst all the unpleasantness of the economic downturn, a few glimmers of sunlight have popped out of the oddest places.


It’s hardly news that kids art programs are massively underfunded in the US. At Bullseye we typically need to decline the vast majority of requests we receive for donations. Even in the best of times, we just don’t have the resources to fill a hole that deep.

So why now?

Maybe because an oddly smug sort of satisfaction comes of spitting in the face of adversity and doing something that the financial statements tell you is beyond your means.

So there.

A couple of weeks ago I said Yes instead of No.  And Dan, Ted and I found ourselves suddenly buried in the middle of helping a bunch of kids at the da Vinci Arts Middle School make fused and slumped plates and bowls as centerpieces for Portland’s Young Audiences annual auction.


We can’t take any credit for the actual design or making – that was all in the hands of the kids and their instructor, Lisa Wilcke. We just provided the materials and stood back.

Well, not too far back. I did go to the school to watch one afternoon last week. It’s been years since I’ve been around kids doing art projects. There really is an energy there that is unlike anything you’ll find in adult education. I was utterly smitten.


(I got especially smitten with this chipper little bird)

But then, after smittenness comes work….the kind that Dan loves best: prepping shelves, loading kilns, playing around in the studio at 11pm and on weekends. We hadn’t done that kind of thing together in the last 25 years. It felt like the honeymoon that we forgot to take.


Even with the mid-sized BVD and Paragon Pearl kilns, it took a lot of firings to hammer  over 40 pieces through the fuse and slump cycles.

We’re still slogging along and expect to be done by this weekend.


So, that’s part of where I’ve been lately. As I said, it’s been a sweet little sunburst in an otherwise stormy few months.

And BTW, I know that our project is only one of a skidzillion that are pulled out of hats by magician artists who manage to scrape together the materials and energy to give so many kids the opportunity to experience the weird science – and often weirder art! – that glass makes possible.

I’d love to hear about what the rest of you are doing with kids and glass. Any links you can share would be a treat.

9 Responses to Oh no, kids please!

  1. That’s awesome! I loved my art classes as a kid.

    A couple of weeks ago I was approached by a friend to donate a piece of my glass work for a silent auction to help raise money for art education in her daughter’s elementary school. I wrote about it on my blog: http://kathleenkrucoff.blogspot.com/2009/03/little-bit-of-twilight.html It’s just a small way to help the school increase their funding for art education programs.

  2. Lani says:

    Kathleen, thanks for the link! Beyond your own generosity, it’s great to see its impact on others in the Etsy community.

  3. What a great project!

    Here’s another interesting resource in the Portland area: http://www.therightbraininitiative.org

    (They are issuing a call to artists to teach in schools in the tri-county area… I think it goes “live” on the 16th.)

  4. I am so excited you wrote this post Lani! That energy is exactly why I love teaching kids! I’m so glad you experienced it!! I spent 8 weeks this winter at Columbia High in White Salmon, helping kids produce a wall of tiles for the ‘Youthful Art of Healing’ project at the Hood River Memorial Hospital. Couldn’t find a link through the hospital, but I wrote about it on my blog. 75 tiles fabricated into 5 panels – patients & staff were touching & examining the panels as they were being installed. The kids were talented, creative, & LOVED working with glass! Their teacher, an incredible woman, hopes to continue working with glass.

    Went from high school to middle school for a week in January where 60 kids each made a tile that was installed in the cafeteria windows at Hood River Middle School. The kids portrayed all the things they loved about their school. Then their teachers wanted a class! Again, talented, creative kids who loved the process of glasswork.


  5. Yes, and I’m actually signing up for rightbrain. Seems like a really cool initiative.

    Oregon Glass Guild has a project, led by Linda Steider, to help Columbia Gorge high school students make a glass wall for a local hospital. OGG loaned them tools and donated a bunch of glass scrap, and Linda worked like crazy. You can see the result here: http://steiderstudios.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/revisiting-youthful-art-of-healing/

  6. Well done, young Jedis!

    I’ll have to talk to The Dot about getting something going at her school… Her school is pretty much 100% Muslim and with the cultural tradition of tessellated shaped I bet they could come up with something cool… hmmm….

  7. McElf says:

    Quite possibly one of the most exhausting things we do and one of the most rewarding, is a project at our studio dubbed “Fusing Fun.” Every Saturday, kids ages 3-103 (most physically under the 15 year mark) are welcome to come use small bits of glass, stringer and frit however their creativity sees fit on a pre-cut shape. We change the shapes often so that there’s always something new. Each project only costs $5 and $1 of every project benefits a local community service program. Kids absolutely love saving their money to come visit us and make glass regularly, and they love that they’re having fun, being creative, and helping the community.
    Lately, we’ve been going to schools to sponsor “in-school field trips.” Basically, we bring fusing fun to them! It’s wonderful to know we’re bringing this joy to kids (hooking ‘um early!) and it’s something that everyone can afford, no matter what those newspapers say! Kids bring their friends, parents tell theirs and it just keeps spreading! It is one of those things that you don’t actually make money on but the joy you receive is such that it never occurred to us to care…

  8. Lani says:

    Thanks for writing – I want to see the 103-year old kids!

  9. McElf says:

    Maybe I’ll bring a picture to BECon… sometimes I think they have more fun than the tykes!

Leave a Comment