Student responses to their visit to the WheatonArts Glass Studio and the Museum of American Glass
#1 First Impressions: We witnessed a bottle being made as an impression of molten glass inside a vintage aluminum mold. What WheatonArts objects or moments made an impression on you?
If only all visitors were required to creatively respond to their visit to WheatonArts! It was wonderful to review the images, poems, and texts the students used to reflect on their experience in the glass studio and museum. They served as a reminder of the importance of what WheatonArts does in maintaining the South Jersey glass tradition and gave me hope the next generation is interested in maintaining it.
For these students, their visit was their first experience exploring the materiality of glass, both in the hot shop and in the objects surrounding us. Similar themes appeared throughout their impressions.
Feel the Heat.
There’s a reason the area where people work with the molten glass in a studio is called a “hot shop.” The warm ambient temperature reinforces how important managing the temperature of the material is to glassmaking. It also represents another definition of heat – that of intense feeling or passion. Skitch’s passion for glass was evident. This, as much as the medium itself, engaged the students.
Glass is all around us – the students were carrying glass in their pockets in the form of cell phone screens – yet this pervasiveness can cause it to fade into the background. Their visit caused students to reflect on their connections to the material. A mother’s keepsake in the form of an old bottle. A family member who works for a glass company. A generational memory of the use of glass beads and what that says about the perceived value of the lives traded for them.
Someone made this.
Throughout the student’s visit, it was brought to the fore that it is people behind the making of glass objects. Whether it be historic commercial items or contemporary art on display in the museum, or replica and production ware Skitch was currently working on in the studio, a human took the material of glass and created an object out of it through skill and creativity. In learning the historic industrial processes, the students understood the fine art studio glass movement’s incredible breadth.
Next week I will be blogging about the class’s historical tour of Glassboro with Mike Benson, trustee of the Glassboro Historical Society and the Heritage Glass Museum.
Select student responses:
David Ben-Isreal: A list of Glass Trivialities (things that should not be made of glass)
- Roast turkey
- Hiking boots
- Tennis racket/ball
- Fishing net
- Hydraulic press
- Hunting dog
- Bowling pin
- Candy wrapper
- Canon (this is a trope in fighting games)
- Red paint
- Blue paint
- Hair scrunchie
- A furnace to heat glass
- Sippy cup
- Door stop
- Fake nails
[I challenge the public to help me find all of these items made out of glass! I pulled a few snapshots of items from the museum’s collection database. Do you know of more?]
Kymonie Thomas-Nagil: The Masks We Wear
Throughout history, the knowledge and creativity of my people
Have been stipped from us and used without our permission.
Even dating back to the slave trade times.
Many native Africans were paid for by trade beads.
Also the land they lived on, was
Sold for those same glass beads.
Keeping my face in its authentic state, is
Sometimes hard knowing how little value my people had.
Wishing that I knew about our history,
Emotionlessly, I still have to wear that mask to hide all of our past.
When will our true powers and potential, no longer be a mystery.
Empowering you to the greatest from which you were last.
Align oneself on a level that is godly, and
Remember to wear that black mask proudly
[Has anyone else been inspired to create a piece of art in response to one seen in the Museum of American Glass? I would be honored if you would share it with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.]
“A piece of glass that has significance to me and my family is this old vintage Coca Cola bottle from the 80’s. … This bottle has basically been on “display” in my family’s basement ever since I can remember. As a kid, I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever because I had never seen Coke in a glass bottle before– all I had seen were plastic bottles or aluminum cans.
The bottle was my mom’s…I am happy she felt a sort of connection to this glass at such a young age, to the point where she wanted to keep it for so long to show her kids one day. I always associated the old Coca Cola bottle with my mom and her childhood and how different things were when she was younger.”
[What glass family heirlooms might you have at home?]