Dan Klein
1938-2009

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Dan and Max.

Of all the creatures that adored him, surely hyperactive puppies topped the list.

For someone who – purely without intention – epitomized the proper British gentleman, Dan Klein had an odd way of dealing with exuberance. He encouraged it.

The month after 9/11 when I asked him – rhetorically, I thought – where to go in a world gone mad, he said with charm-stuffed conviction “Come to North Lands”.

I went.

A year later, after I’d fallen deliriously in love with one of the most remote corners of the planet and found a pile of old stones that I thought I couldn’t live without but was sure we couldn’t afford, he nudged me towards the dream “You’ll regret it more if you don’t than if you do”.

We did.

Dan changed my life – our lives, my own Dan’s and mine. He encouraged our exuberance, our risk-taking, and our passions.

But my stories are small, short and irrelevantly personal, compared to the larger dreams that Dan Klein brought to life. Among them, the existence of one of the world’s most magical glass programs. North Lands Creative Glass is a testament to Dan’s willingness and ability to turn a quirky little Highland fishing village into a world-calibre glass centre.

I was packing for North Lands when I learned that Dan died yesterday.

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He will be so very, very missed by all of us who loved him so very, very much – not least I’m sure, the madcap puppies.

A lot of Bullseye’s gallery team spent the last week on the edge of our seats.

2006 e-merge finalist Robin Provart-Kelly was battling a coven of kiln witches in order to get a piece to us in time for SOFA Chicago. After what seemed like a lifetime of hell in the hot zone, we got an email from Robin with a 20 point EUREKA and a picture of this amazing pâte de verre work.

Robin Provart-Kelly, “Bounty”, 2008. Pâte de verre and kilnformed glass. 3.5″ x 8.25″ x 8″

It’s missed our outbound SOFA truck, so it’s traveling solo to meet up with us when we get to Chicago. We’re all elated – and minus fingernails – to be able to show Robin’s work for the first time at the fair.

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I’ve been back in Caithness, Scotland at North Lands Creative Glass for a few weeks this summer…awed as ever by the quality of the light here at the 58th parallel and equally awed by the glass people I meet in this remote corner of Britain.

On a dash through the North Lands kiln-glass studios I spied an interesting set of tests at the worktable of an artist in the Bullseye Forum.


By purposefully casting wedges of varied colors together she’d created remarkable fades at the interfaces along the edge.

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I know I promised to write about the GAS conference. You’d think that I’d have something to say about a project that consumed over a year of my life.  Maybe a simple BESTS & MOSTS list like Cynthia’s.

Oddly though, my BESTS were a little too much like my WORSTS. Stuff like:

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED GLASS FANATICS…

…craning for a view (the bleached head in the upper right-hand corner of the frame is me), I can’t deny the rock-concert allure of mobs watching really good blowers (and Paul Cunningham doing a Moje roll-up fills that bill brilliantly).

But somehow, conversing through a bullhorn lacks a certain intimacy.

…even if Dan seemed to enjoy the hell out of herding hundreds of compliant souls around the factory.

I appreciate the organizational steroids it takes to manage a project of this size, but I came away from  GAS  with a heightened appreciation for conferences on the scale of Ausglass‘ or North Lands’, where human contact doesn’t mean having your hand ground into the steel bleachers by some kid’s Doc Martens as he scrambles for a seat.

OK. Clearly I’m still in GAS rehab. I WILL try to find some less curmudgeonly BESTS in a day or two.

For now, I’m off to confer with the most appealing crowd in THIS neighborhood.

From the shame of my own speechless stupor.

I can just keep staring out over the hills, watching the haar slink in from the sea. Smothering the strath in its Stephen Kingishness. And my mind with it.

The view from my window, mid-morning.

The Haar

Smug in the knowledge that somewhere, out there, another blogger is doing my job.

Bless you, Josh, IOU!

PS. Don’t miss the many entries on glass art and artists on this blog. It’s truly brilliant.

Over at Warm Glass, Toni just pointed out that I’m neglecting my blog – again. What can I say? She’s right. I’m back in the Scottish Highlands. It’s the 58th parallel. It’s two days away from the Winter Solstice. The beginning of the day looks like this:Sunrise

The end of the day looks like this:

End of Day

In between there’s about three hours of daylight.

I should spend it blogging?

I was warned.

They told me that that I’d run out of babble; that I’d get bored with my own writing; that no one would comment (unless I picked a fight); that some ITiot would switch me over to different blog software and I’d have to learn a New Trick (just kidding, Chris)…etc etc.

Blog-Jam

My own special gray soup. A bit like Dunbeath harbor when the haar rolls in…

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Clearly I dropped the ball somewhere between Day Three and Day Eight. But the class didn’t.

On the afternoon of the last day, participants shared their results and discoveries. Looking back at the first day of sketching and note-taking, I was truly impressed at how many of the early images and ideas had been transformed into glass – sometimes substantively, occasionally literally, always quite personally.
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Day Three of class ended with a hike down the 365 cliff-clinging stone steps of Whaligoe harbor.
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Lest I be accused of false advertising. It is not always sunny in Lybster. Today was perfect studio weather.
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