Brian Bump warned the friends and relatives he invited to the Working Glass 2012 award ceremony that if he seemed nervous it was because he’d be doing “a performance piece.” Did he ever.

"I was pretty sure of the answer, but my knees were shaking on the way up the stairs."

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Once upon a time 140 innocents – the number fluctuates with a revolving series of escapes and abductions – were kidnapped and held hostage in the fiery dungeon of a phantasmagorical glass factory on the outskirts of the town of Portland, Oregon on the West Coast of the United States.

Once a year, every year, the cleverest of the captives break free of their 9-5 shackles and in an exercise unparalleled in the history of shape-shifting, turn from furnace builders, melters, quality control technicians, programmers, salespeople and other slaves to the 40-hour week, into Artists.

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In the last few months of travel Dan and I have had the good fortune to see some extremely engaging art, from the Turner prizewinners at Tate Britain to the Kienholz Hoerengracht installation at London’s National Gallery, to an intimate showing of one of Anish Kapoor’s untitled Hexagonal Mirrors on view at the Portland Art Museum.

(Don’t anyone ever give me grief again about the time I spend on Facebook! If it hadn’t been for a Facey friend, I’d have missed this Richard Wright beauty that was intentionally destroyed the day after we viewed it.)

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Possibly the most remarkable thing about the Bullseye Glass factory is that it exists at all.

It is the 21st century. Stuff is made in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.  That any product can be made by hand on an industrial scale in America today defies the economic odds. That many of those same hands – in their off hours – also make art, is the second miracle of Bullseye.

1.GeraldineW

Last night I went to the awards reception for the factory’s eighth annual show of glassworks made by its people.

The Working Glass exhibition is always fun. This year the minds, eyes and hearts that schedule, ladle, roll, build, sell and teach with Bullseye glass delivered up some of the most engaging pieces I’ve seen in years.

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Every year the same Bullseye people who build the furnaces, ladle the glass, pack the crates, teach the classes, stock the shelves, and answer the phones put together my favorite exhibition: Working Glass.

PinkNuts

“Untitled” got my vote: a pair of over-sized pink nuts. From a young woman in the maintenance department.

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