Larisa Palmentere, Bullseye Glass Co. production administrative assistant. Photo by Kenton Waltz.

In a way, when Bullseye’s Larisa Palmentere creates a kilnformed glass tabletop, she’s engaged in an argument with people from all across history.

Take, for example, her argument with contemporary society and our stereotypes about art glass. For us, she makes work that is durable and practical.

“People still think of glass artistry as fragile. But it doesn’t have to be,” Palmentere insists. “Kiln-glass is an incredibly tough material. That’s why I continually turn to making tables and countertops; it’s my attempt to remove the stigma of fragility that’s attached to the material. read more

Designing a plate in a glass fusing class at Bullseye Resource Center New York

Jacquelyn Geisner is creating a design that would eventually be fused together and slumped into a plate

The following is a guest blog by painter Jacquelyn Gleisner, about her first experience in glass fusing:

Last January I participated in a glass-fusing workshop at the Bullseye Glass Resource Center New York in Mamaroneck. As an artist with a background in painting, I like to seek out new avenues for creative expression. And sometimes, I crave a break from my studio practice. Trying out a new medium can add spice. A few years ago I learned firsthand that experimenting in a new field helped light the fuse within my wavering practice as an artist.

When I visited the Bullseye Glass Resource Center about an hour outside New York City in early January, James O’Neil gave me a tour. Walking past row upon row of gleaming glass rods, powders and sheets, the glass appeared glimmering and more beautiful to me than I remembered. read more

So now that I've cut a skillion skinny little strips of glass, how about I  drive back up I-5 to my own hot shop and you guys finish up here?

"So now that I've cut a skillion skinny little strips of glass, how about I drive back up I-5 to my own hot shop and you guys finish up here?"

Is there no end to what this guy will put up with???

A few days ago I posted about how Dante Marioni endured a decade of blowing for us during Thanksgiving weekends from 1995 to 2004. Looking back, it’s hard to miss the similarity to the classic Failed Marriage dictum: “I love you. You’re perfect. Now change.

After watching Dante & Team blow dazzling forms in glass for ten years, what would you expect us to do?

We asked him to try kilnforming.

What a sport. He did.

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Back in the mid-90s we got the idea that watching someone else work would be a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving.

1995…Dan: “Got any plans for the next ten Thanksgivings?”
Dante: “Hmmm. Where’s this going?”

The decade of the Dante Circles (1995-2004) is fast becoming history. But like lots of history, it only seems to get grander in its passing.

So it is that this weekend I am again fondly remembering all those years that Dante, Janusz and Paul came down to Portland for the three days following Thanksgiving to blow “cups” while we drank champagne and brunched on the bleachers. It was our celebration of glass. Humored by Dante & Friends we got to sit in front of the furnaces watching them work.

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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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We’re only a week away from SOFA Chicago. Love it or hate it, SOFA is THE event for artists and designers in our field. It’s where the most important collectors gather to spy and buy, to check out the best of contemporary glass (and other media, but let’s not get off track) and to see what’s new in the field.

An old SOFA. In 2006 we used our booth to spotlight some great talent, artists who had worked at North Lands Creative Glass.

This year we’ve dedicated the Bullseye Gallery booth to showcasing past participants in our biennial e-merge competition.

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Peter and Leslie’s comments to my last post got me to thinking about brainstorming ways for artists to get through a rough economy.  Not that I feel artists really need my two cents on this one – doesn’t the very expression “starving artist” point to the symbiotic nature of adversity and creativity?

But while we’re all waiting for the world’s financial wounds to heal, I’ll throw out a few ideas for thinking outside the casket.

No. 1: Reach beyond your own skill-set.

How about collaborating with an artist, designer or craftsperson whose primary material is not glass? Painters and printmakers bring a wealth of ideas to the table that many of us glass-centrics often overlook.

Alex Hirsch “Island’s Edge” Watercolor and ink.

A couple of years ago Portland artist Alex Hirsch crossed our radar. Her segmented compositions seemed perfectly suited to modular construction, painting-with-light methods, and, most specifically, a project that we’d been approached to fabricate for a recently completed medical office at the Oregon Health Sciences University’s Center for Health and Healing.

Hirsch’s design sense paired with our team’s technical skills (and ample kilns) was the ideal solution to the client’s aesthetic and practical needs.

Hirsch and Bullseye tech Nathan Sandberg discuss pre-fired elements that will eventually be fused to larger Tekta plates and finally laminated.

2. Consider the functional – in addition to the aesthetic – side of art glass

We’re all seduced by the beauty of glass. It’s functionality is sometimes a harder sell. In the case of this project – and many others – art glass offers practical benefits that are easily as appealing as its aesthetic ones. In this case it was the ability to both obscure and allow visibility within an interior environment that demanded both privacy for patients and visual control by staff.

The problem: the client wanted a screen that would…

1) shield the hallway and nurses station adjacent to examining rooms from the view of waiting room visitors;

2) allow nurses to see movement, i.e., the presence of people, in the waiting room;

3) bring the organic and soothing feel of a nearby roof garden into the waiting area.

Hirsch’s design provided the ideal solution.

3. Think retro-fit

The current economy is not being kind to builders. A lot of projects are being delayed or canceled. Property owners – whether home or office – are increasingly thinking about remodeling instead of building new.

The OHSU project was not really a renovation, but the interior glass partition wall had not been planned into the original design of the space. It was only after the waiting room interior had been completed and furnished that the medical staff realized the need for more privacy than the original floor plan provided.

That’s when we were contacted and Hirsch invited to propose an “art wall” that would serve as both mural and veil. Track installed above and below the glass panels provided all the support necessary for the partition wall.

4. Enter Bullseye’s biennial e-merge competition.

Huh? What’s this got to do with it?

We – and ultimately the client – had originally become familiar with Hirsch’s talent through her entry in our 2006 e-merge competition. She’d been working in glass on a smaller scale after being mentored by a local glass artist. When we saw her e-merge entry, we knew that her work would translate into an architectural scale and invited her to work with our technical team to realize the OHSU project.

Hirsch’s “Highway 101″ fused frit panel, 11″ x 31.5″ x .25″. Winner of e-merge 2006 Newcomer Prize.

But no, you don’t have to host a competition to find opportunities for collaboration. Visit non-glass galleries in your area. Enroll in a drawing, painting or design course at a local arts center. Network with artists from other media. Take your glass skills outside the glass world.

Yes, it’s a scary world out there at the moment, but it’s also bursting with opportunity for the creative.

For more views of Hirsch’s glasswork, click here.

To learn more about e-merge, click here.

For even MORE about e-merge, stay tuned for news about e-merge and SOFA later this week.

I haven’t been blogging. I just can’t find the time.

Life has been such a party lately. (Insert cynical Smiley)

Like this week. We went to the grand opening of  The Nines, Portland’s newest luxury hotel. Hundreds of revelers bouncing around decadent monuments like tequila and martini luges. Pretzel-boned babe bungie-bouncing from sky-high balloons.

I kept looking out the windows expecting to see Rome burning. But no. Just little old Portland, gritting its gotta-love-‘em teeth in the face of our freaky future.

And tucked amid the revelers is the real reason we go to stuff like this.

Designed by Melody Owen, fabricated by Elements Glass, three floors of LED-lit handblown glass cascading down a marble stairwell.

The Nines has engaged with the local arts community to bring original art into the public and private spaces of this major hotel.  From the print faculty at Pacific Northwest College of Art to a galaxy of independent local artists and studios, The Nines is a feast for art lovers. Original idea? Well, no….we’ve previously reported on the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, one of a number of arts-based properties developed by Provenance Hotels. “Art Hotels” are good business.

But for those of us in the arts, “trend” may trump “original” on this one. It’s what we all so dearly need right now: recognition for the value of original art in defining identity. Whether personal or corporate, on all levels, art is the manifestation of our human side. And just cause for celebration.

So, look up, guys. We’re going to get through this one.

Dan & friend watching dangling damsel. Behind them: “Bloom” – over one ton of kiln-glass designed by Portland artist Ellen George.

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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Yes, it’s approaching four weeks….and just when I thought it was safe to go out , I got a Google alert  a couple of days ago that shot me right back to GAS – a favorite, often-edgy Canberra based blog with delayed coverage of the Moje demo at GAS.

I snagged this snap (apologies for the thievery, Megan) in order to answer a couple of questions that I got asked daily during the conference:

Q#1. What’s the story behind the cool Moje T-shirt?
Q#2. Where do I get one?

Why not get it off your chest? Better yet – put it on. Klaus Moje and Yoko Yagi make a sartorial statement at GAS Portland.

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