Monthly Archives: January 2009

The other day one of our salespeople took a call from a user concerned about the toxicity of Bullseye’s Aventurine glass. HUH?

Aventurine takes its name from the Italian “avventura” which translates as “adventure” -  a good description for a glass that, due to its supersaturation of metal, has historically been challenging to melt and – at least in its copper form – was often a different color from batch to batch. Bullseye has made Aventurine glasses for over 20 years. Currently we offer them in three styles (a green 1112, a lighter green 1412 and a blue 1140)….none of them poisonous.

But back to the story:

The caller had been told that after firing, an  Aventurine glass should only be handled with gloves until it was first washed.


Yes, supposedly, according to the caller’s teacher – who claimed to have this information direct from the glass manufacturer – “chromium comes out of the Aventurine and should not be handled directly until washed with soap and water.”

Kilnforming is fascinating territory and there are lots of knowledgeable teachers out there who can guide you through it with accurate and useful information.

There are also a number of nutcases who ought to be ticketed for teaching without a clue.

If you need accurate information on the behavior of our glass, a good place to find it is here.

If, instead, you’re looking for the latest urban legend, you might like to answer the phones in our sales office.

It’s now three weeks into the new year. We all know that it’s not going to be an easy one, but something about it still feels promising. I can’t give words to it.

It’s risky, unstable, weightier than I’m comfortable with. It’s fragile,  off-kilter; it threatens to swirl off its axis. But there’s also a promise of brightness, of energy, of solid goodness ahead.

When I close my eyes and imagine how an artist might translate all of that into color and form, this is what I see:

Heike Brachlow, Waiting VII, 2008.

So, it was no surprise to me to see this article in the news and to realize that I’m not alone in looking for champagne and OJ in the months ahead.

A happy footnote to this post and an auspicious beginning to the New Year: we have just placed this work in the collection of the Glasmuseum Hentrich, Duesseldorf, Germany.

Before 2008 becomes just more dingy slush along Memory Lane, I wanted to look back and toss out a few snapshots of what were, for me at least, the year’s most memorable moments. With the exception of No. 1, these aren’t ranked by importance, pain or any other criteria.

1. Moje at PAM

Working with Dan Klein and Bruce Guenther on Klaus Moje’s retrospective at the Portland Art Museum overflowed both the year and my wildest dreams. It began in 2005 when the Museum committed to the show that would merge Moje’s then-touring Australian exhibition with a selection of historic works from private and public US collections.

Going into the planning we had no idea that Guenther, PAM’s Chief Curator, would challenge Moje to create the largest work of his life as a visual anchor to the show. Or that the piece – ultimately titled The Portland Panels – would have to happen at Bullseye.

It did – thanks to the indomitable R & E team and the genius, stamina and inspiration of Papa Klaus.

I owe my survival and sanity during the building of the show to co-curator, Dan Klein, undeniably one of the most remarkable, unflappable and magically droll gentlemen in the world of glass.

2. GAS in PDX

The Glass Art Society’s annual conference was an overwhelming amalgam of people and events that months later I still haven’t fully digested. Let’s just say it was a once-in-a-lifetime smorgasbord of collector tours, artist lectures, demos, infinite installations and sleepless nights, that turned our year on its head. In the end Portland did itself proud. And the pride is finally beginning to outweigh the pain.

Showing off the factory is always (my) Dan’s favorite gig. The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass were an attentive and delightful audience.

3. Kanekos to PJG

As one of the many installations we organized to show off glass in Portland last summer, the winner of the What’s-THAT-Doing-HERE Award goes to the Jun Kaneko showing in the Portland Japanese Garden.

The Bullseye Gallery team put in marathon weeks siting and setting the Kaneko pieces – just one of almost a dozen installations they managed in the weeks leading up to the GAS conference.

4. E-merge at SOFA

The Sculpture, Object, Functional Art fair, held annually in Chicago, is the premier exposition in our field, but not a venue that – due to sky-high real estate costs – typically abounds in works by emerging artists.

We determined to swim against that tide this year and showcased works by participants from our last four e-merge competitions. I was delighted that we did. Response to the work was spectacular and we made connections for many of the artists that promise some exceptional future opportunities.

5. Obama in Chicago

We hadn’t planned for front row seats to History when we got our tickets to SOFA/Chicago, but finding our rental apartment immediately above Grant Park on November 4 was the thrill of a lifetime.

…but nothing like the thrill that Dan and I got when we returned from an evening out to find this guy standing in the middle of our room – thanks to my prankster gallery partners.

6. T&T’s Wedding

Over the years of working with Ted Sawyer, Bullseye’s Research & Education Director, I’ve been fairly regularly gobsmacked by his smarts, talent and general all-around brilliance. But never quite as totally as in his stellar choice of a bride.

Solidly on my list of 2008′s Historic Highlights had to be the exchanging of Wedding Wings between Ted and The-Smartest-Choice-He-Ever-Made (yea, Tara!) in Portland’s Crystal Ballroom.

7. Bullseye Artists into Museums

Selling art is blissful (more so lately!), but getting works accepted into museum collections beats bliss by a mile.

However…because we deal largely in emerging, early- and mid-career artists, these opportunities don’t happen every day. So 2008 was a special year for us, with museum placements for works by Heike Brachlow, Cobi Cockburn, Silvia Levenson, Jess Loughlin, Jeff Sarmiento and April Surgent, in addition to the still thrilling but less remarkable acquisitions of major works by established masters Jun Kaneko and Klaus Moje.

Helping to place the Surgent work in Tacoma’s Museum of Glass collection through a new Curator’s Choice program within the GAS auction was a double thrill: a benefit auction that actually benefits the artist. What a novel idea.

8. NLCG at Top (as usual)

Going to the North Lands Creative Glass conference each September has become ritual by now. This year the glory of it all was enhanced by side trips with friends to a few of our neighbors’ homes in the Highlands.

Dena, Tina, Tommie and Dan were surprised to find the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland out when we  arrived at their place. Oh well. We’ll be back. Until then Tommie has invited the couple to be her Facebook Friends.

9. Bacon at Tait

When I was fifteen years old I jumped the wall of my convent boarding school and made my way down to London’s Tait Gallery where the first Francis Bacon retrospective totally knocked my woolly socks off.

A few days ago I found myself once again in London where the Tait had mounted yet another Bacon retrospective.

(No, this isn’t the retrospective. It’s a shot of Bacon’s South Kensington studio…I think that as a teenager, I knew in my heart that any artist whose studio looked like my bedroom was worthy of watching…which I have, with utter awe for the last 46 years)

10.  Deck the Halls with Boughs of Folly…

Much like the Moje retrospective, work on our house in the Scottish Highlands has been a labor of many years. By the end of December 2008 we’d managed to install the 97th piece of (mostly glass) art into the former Old Manse.

Clockwise from left, the main hall decked with works by Jane Bruce, Klaus Moje, Clifford Rainey, Judith Schaechter and Robin Provart-Kelly.

I expect it will be at least another ten years before we’ve finally fully stocked the World’s Most Obscurely Located Private Glass Museum there on the 58th parallel, nestled amongst the sheep, the bunnies, buffetted by the northern gales and enjoyed by myself, Dan and the increasing crowds of glassies who trek across the globe to get away from the madness and to celebrate the joy – that together make 2008 so hard to forget.