Mulled Children | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co

Mulled Children

I usually wait early January to start ruminating on my highlights of the year gone by. Seems crazy to be thinking about this in mid-October, but since June my head’s been hopelessly stuck in a kids’ project that we did with Brazee Street Glass at the Toledo School for the Arts last June.  I suspect that by next January, this will still be at the top of my Best of 2012 list.

Brazee’s Emily Repp doesn’t just know glass – she knows kids. When to teach, when to watch, when to feed!

Four months ago we watched the brilliant Brazee team take a group of K-8 students through the research, design and making of a glass universe. It was quite simply stellar!

Brazee’s solution to the worry about pre-school and sharp materials? They’d pre-fired the clear shards for the starmakers! Simply brilliant.

Curiously, the most engaging part for me was not the glass. It was watching the research and design that led up to working with the glass. Seeing the kids thinking through this material got me to appreciate kids in a way that I really hadn’t in the past. (True confession: I’ve often thought  small children are best with some fava beans and a nice Chianti)

Before anything else: reading, thinking, questioning…

Now I’m intrigued. And wondering just how big the universe of kid-formed glass is out there. So, I’m asking for input:

Anyone able to direct me to some great programs that are taking kids through the marvels of kilnformed glass?  Especially programs that integrate glass with other disciplines?

Or just have some thoughts on what works and what doesn’t in kid-formed glass?

If you can, I’d love links to schools, teachers, projects. Anyone?

15 Responses to Mulled Children

  1. martie says:

    GlassRoots, 10 Bleeker Street Newark, NJ 07102
    (973) 353-9555

  2. Carol says:

    The pre-fired glass shards is brilliant, and something I wish I’d thought of when I was teaching my own daughter Emelia to do glass with me. She started young, 4 years old, fusing. I did pre-cut everything and started out by just letting her play with the colors to see where she’d take it. She made a group of small houses on a clear tile first and then went on to draw pictures of “Steve” from “Blues Clues” (one of her favorites at the time). Setting things up with small cups of colored glass pieces and pre-cut tiles made fun for her. She still helps, now 11, in the studio, in addition to making her own things, and has been been to many gallery shows, talks and demos given at Bullseye and various other places. It amazes me how much and who she knows (through osmosis!) by being around glass everyday.

  3. barbara says:

    A few years ago, I taught glass in Portland schools via the SUN program. They cut their own glass and don’t recall a single drop of kiddy blood. Usually, I was the one with bloody fingers.

  4. Jane says:

    I second Martie’s suggestion of GlassRoots in Newark NJ, a very worthwhile endeavour. They teach the kids a range of activities including glassblowing, kilnforming, bead-making together with business skills. They also undertake public art projects around Neawark, which the kids help produce.

    As it says on their mission statement – GlassRoots provides multiple opportunities for at-risk youth, ages 10-18, to realize their potential through the creation of glass art. As the only non-profit glass studio which included hot glass for young people in the greater New York metropolitan area, GlassRoots provides a nurturing environment in which otherwise underserved children can achieve self-esteem and creative expression while also learning basic business skills and valuable life lessons through the exploration of the unique art forms of glass making.

  5. Jane says:

    P.S. Next time you are this side, I would be happy to take you to visit GlassRoots and meet the kids.

  6. Lani says:

    Carol, I’ve always found Emilia’s knowledge of glass intimidating as hell! ;-)

    Barbara, what’s “the SUN program”? (Can’t believe how much I don’t know about my own town!

    Jane, YES! We must get to GlassRoots. Trying to find time for another NYC trip soon. Must go, then! What’s the youngest age that they work with?

  7. Emily says:

    My favorite method of teaching small children is paying them a nickle a string to put hangers on glass ornament when they are eight and allow them studio access. Then when they are about 10-12 have them grind parts on the lap. (parts that are easily
    replaced when they fly across the room and hit the wall) Their teachers will compliment you on their dexterity with tools, and you get cheap studio help.This is a proven method
    by years of experience. It also creates wonderful playmates.

  8. Lani says:

    Emily, Ha ha! Having just visited the studio of your former Child Labor Victim, I can vouch for its effectiveness in creating brilliant artists.

  9. Jane says:

    Great Lani, its a date. The GlassRoots programs are mainly aimed at at-risk youth, and at the moment the kids start at age 10 and go to around 18. They may look at taking younger kids in the future.

  10. Ilanit says:

    Hi Lani,
    I have been teaching kids(kintergarden-8th grade) kilnform glass for the last 5 years. They seem to love the material and the endless possibilities.
    My biggest project was with middle school at 2010. We created a huge room divider 21′x6′,built from 3 panels that are portable. The project involved so many aspects, like measuring, different materials, unique installation and the fact that it’s all portable…
    The installation can be found at Chabad Hebrew Academy in San Diego.
    I attach link to my website that you can follow the process.
    BTW, did I mentioned we used only Bullseye glass?

  11. cheryl says:

    Hi Lani

    I am a glass artist in the middle of Canada and last year along with a clay tile project we did cast glass tiles with gr 6-8… IT was a great math exercise! The kids loved it!

  12. Peggy says:

    Lani–I’ve been teaching kids in Vancouver (the one across the river from Portland) for 6 or 7 years. The most involved is a week long glass camp at Sixth Street/Gallery 360 every summer for kids over 10 years of age where the kids learn about glass and design and make more stuff than my kiln can fire in two weeks. I also volunteer teach a one-day class several times a year at the juvenile court for kids who are involved in an intensive program after adjudication. I have gotten some amazing responses from kids who’ve rarely had a positive experience with anything in their lives. Oh, and I worked with a kindergarten class at Hollyrood School to make a large serving plate and 8″ dessert plates for the school’s auction. Prefired pieces to blunt the edges and let each kid design a tile with an insect on it. Then I fired the plates. They were fabulous. One of the mothers took pictures and had an album to go with the plates for the auction winner. The upshot of all this rambling is, kids love glass for the same reason I do–color. And they do amazing things with it.
    Peggy Bird
    Of course it’s all BE glass. Do I need to add that?

  13. Janet says:


    I recently did a workshop at Oxclose Nursery School, Spennymoor, UK. July 2012 for 78 3-4 year olds making glass tiles for a panel for the school reception. It was such an enjoyable day. I was told by staff not to be disappointed if the children lost interest quickly. This was not the case and some kept returning to add more detail to their work.

  14. Jon says:


    We are in our third year running a kilnforming program for middle and high school kids out of Kari Minnick’s studio. It has been a lot of fun for us and the kids. We have many teens that have been w/us for 2+ years and are doing amazing work. As an artist I find our kids approach to glass very inspirational. We’ve developed a supportive environment for teens at the age where they need outlets to be themselves and do their own thing. We developed a year long curriculum for beginners. It’s a plus to offer a new medium that gets beyond self-imposed limitations (i.e. “I can’t draw..”). Our advanced class is presently doing the pattern bar segment slab project. Last night they got to see how their bar layouts flowed into a final piece. Very exciting for all!

    Jon Lickerman
    Takoma Park, MD

  15. Kirstan says:

    Creative Children’s Center, a Reggio Emilia inspired school in the Portland area, incorporates glass into their curriculum as part of their “100 Languages of Learning”. Every material is explored and experimented with, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with the 3-5 year old mixed preschool class creating a set of bowls.

    I pre-cut a rainbow of sheet glass into various small pieces, I did a bit of edge clean up but did not pre-fire anything, and the kids spent a week just having the glass available in their studio. They would touch it, look through it… even drop it to hear it “tink”! On light tables they built images and told stories. The next week I brought in my own glass work and presented a BE video about glass. They LOVED seeing the in-kiln images! “It’s like lava!” one child exclaimed. They grilled me with questions, inquiring on things like “how can it be solid and liquid”, “Why does glass break?”, and “why can you see light through some but not other colors?”.

    Finally they constructed their bowls in small groups, and when I brought back their final pieces they we beside themselves with delight. Pondering how it had changed in the kiln and how THEY had MADE glass… like it was magic :)

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