Note from the Editor-Education Issue 2011

November 15, 2011

Hello readership! I wanted to make a personal comment on our current issue of Contemporary Canadian Glass.

This quarter’s magazine is timetabled to highlight our students and recent grads within our Canadian and global glass community. By this time of year they have settled into their new ‘post education’ lifestyles and we at GAAC want to say a well deserved CONGRATS!

Normally, I would choose an article that reflects our theme to post on the magazine cover, and I certainly have lots of good ones to choose from. So I urge you all to visit the ‘Schools & Students’ category to read and enjoy all the stories from our newest glass community members.

I chose one of the three articles on the disaster relief in Japan as this quarter’s cover, because this issue is important and needs our awareness and attention.

I hope the students of the world understand and again, welcome.


sally mccubbin

contemporary canadian glass, managing editor


March 11th – Then and Now

By Rika Kuroki



Japan is a country sitting on numerous faults, where 10% of all the earthquakes in the world occur, shaking up one place or another constantly.  We have had devastating earthquakes periodically; the last massive one, still fresh in our memory, in Kobe on January 17, 1995, which claimed 6000 precious lives.  But what we had on March 11, 2011 seemed unprecedented in our recorded history.  We have since found out that there are traces of a precedent and an ancient script mentioning an earthquake and monstrous tsunami of the same magnitude, which also destroyed a vast area in the northern Japan a millennium ago, but as it was so far back in our history its impact had been totally forgotten.  This current catastrophe has affected the lives of the Japanese populace in such diverse ways, that the reality in front of our eyes and the world we live in changed forever in one way or the other.


In the glass community, there was of course quite a bit of effect.  I have two friends who have their studio in Miyagi prefecture, close to the epicentre, and it took a while to find out if they survived the quake or not.  One of them is Eiji Shiga, whose Glass Studio Kirlo and home is located about 20 km west of Sendai Airport, which was swallowed by the giant tsunami.  The quake hit his studio just a few days after he started melting glass in his furnace to begin making pieces for a solo show in April.  The furnace went down as soon as the initial quake hit due to the power outage, and all the ceramic roof tiles of the building were shattered.  The power was out for a week and it took ten days to have running water back.  All his exhibition schedules were postponed indefinitely, and two of them were cancelled because the galleries did not exist anymore.  He was able to get back into blowing glass about a month later by melting clear cullet in a small pot placed in the glory hole, and he started exhibiting again in May, though most of his pieces had to be made with simple techniques due to limitations in his facility.



Glass work by Eiji Shiga entitled Flow



Also, as in the rest of Japan, there is a looming fear of nuclear fallout from Fukushima Power Plant.  This has caused some of Eiji’s clients to worry that his pieces might be “contaminated” with radiation as his studio is only about 100 km from the infamous power plant.  Therefore he has less clients buying or even coming to see his work.  But on the other hand, there are movements to give more exhibition opportunities to the earthquake survivor artists, and he says he was offered more opportunities than he could handle at this moment and had to turn down some of them.  Right now, Eiji says he is just happy that both he and his wife and all of his extended family survived the Disaster of the Millennium, and that he is still able to work in his own studio.  Currently he is inviting fellow survivors living in provisional housing to come and experience glass blowing in his studio, and he says hearing their stories of survival simply amaze him and give him courage to go on living each day. 


But there are others who were not as fortunate as Eiji, such as Koji Murayama whose Kaiba Glass Studio is also located about 25 km west of Seidai Airport. He was not able to resume blowing glass in his studio until August because of extensive damage in his home and studio.



Sahara Glass series by Koji Murayama. The glass is made by melting sand from the Sahara Desert. These pieces survived the earthquake.



But even with the facilities unharmed, there were many others who were unable to restart their furnaces due to the power outage or from fear of constantly recurring after shocks, some of which were as big as magnitude 6.  Eiji also mentioned a kiln worker friend, whose inventory of Bullseye glass was shattered into pieces.  And, of course, the power outages have been getting in the way of firings.  Others, farther away from the disaster area, were having issues of their own.  Having been exposed to a constant visual bombardment on TV and the Internet of the total destruction happening up north pushed many into a state of mild depression, affecting their creative activities.  It seems as if the overload of visual information was beyond their imagined reality making them go into deep thoughts concerning the meaning of creating works, which was the complete opposite of what they had been seeing after March 11.


On the other hand, there were artists and galleries actively organizing charity events and exhibitions to raise money for the people in need.  The movement started by Tomohiro Kano is unique.  Tomohiro Kano is a kiln-casting artist whose home and studio are in the heart of Tokyo.



Gate. A kiln cast glass monument developed for 'Rainbow 2000'at Doshi, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan in 1999 by Tomohiro Kano



Tomohiro is a very close friend of Koji Murayama in Sendai, and he went to help his friend out in the beginning of April this year.  What he saw on the way to and back from Murayama’s Kaiba Glass Studio was literally hell on earth, and he felt a strong urge from deep within himself to do something to help the survivors but to do this as an artist.  He came up with the idea to ask people working with glass to make cups for the survivors, each one with a short heart-warming message from the artist to the recipient.  His concept was to gift the survivors something unique and precious, so they can feel the pleasure of owning something again after having their homes and all their belongings destroyed in the earthquake or washed away into the ocean.  He announced this project on Twitter and other social networking sites, as well as on his blog the day after he came home from up north.  This is an ongoing project, which is currently in its second phase, asking artists to make cups which will be delivered to the residents of government-provided provisional housing in Iwate prefecture.  So far, since July, the glasses have been delivered to two communities.  He calls it “My Glass Movement” and the progress is reported periodically in his blog set up for this purpose.



Garden of Gleams. Kiln cast glass and light installation in Tokyo Shiodome Building. Pool dimensions W40m×D21m by Tomohiro Kano



But the earthquake and tsunami might become the least of our problems in the future.  The larger haunting issue is the infamous damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, which is still spewing out radioactive matter to this day.  Though the government claims it is not as bad as it seems, many people are sceptical of what they sayas there is a large amount of information saying otherwise all over the Internet.  Nowadays, it is almost impossible to know what is the most accurate information, but what we know for sure is when information closer to the truth is uploaded to the Internet, the government eventually admits that it was actually happening.  In September, they admitted that the situation in Fukushima was beyond melt down, and a “small amount” of molten core had melted through the crucible that contained it.  This announcement happened six months after it happened.  With the haunting fear of radiation looming all over eastern Japan, many people are seriously considering migrating to the western or southern part of the country or even abroad.  Masato and Maho Ota, who moved to the town of Kasama in Ibaragi Prefecture four years ago and built Ota Glass Studio, are now seriously contemplating moving abroad.



Glassware by Ota Glass Studio



Kasama, located north of Tokyo, is the oldest center of ceramic production in eastern Japan, and it is a popular place to live among artists of various media.  Masato and Maho Ota chose this location to build their studio for its creative environment, not only because they could constantly be in touch with artists and their finely crafted works, but also because of the nature around this area.  In the past four years, they have nurtured their studio into quite an establishment, with a constant growth in business.  After the earthquake and melt down in Fukushima, they launched extensive research to find out about the actual threat of radiation to their health because they were afraid for the wellbeing of their twelve year old daughter and five year old son.  Living only 140 km away from the Fukushima power plant, the level of radiation in their area would sometimes become alarmingly high.  After two months, they decided to move out of the country, at least until they are convinced that it is safe to move back and live there again.  They say it is heart wrenching to move away from the place they love so much, but with what is going on only 140 km away, and with the unreliability in what the government is saying and doing for the well being of Japanese populace, they think it is the best choice they can currently make.



Lighting by Ota Glass Studio



At this moment none of us know how things will develop in the future, but it is still far from over, and it will probably take decades or maybe even centuries to restore what the destruction caused by the Disaster of the Millennium has wrought.  On the other hand, I believe that this was a wake up call, not only for us Japanese, but to all of mankind living on the face of this beautiful blue planet, to rethink and re-evaluate our ways of living in regards to how we could create a world in harmony with each other and with the environment we live in.


ACAD Grads 2011

By Brianna Strong

The Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) is celebrating their most recent graduates from the glass program.  These recognized creative producers carry out a range of investigations that are as diverse and layered as their respective methodologies.  The breadth and scope of their practices begin to ask fundamental questions about material thinking, relational experience, perception, society, psychological constructs and reality.  These individuals are award winners, international agents for the glass community and emerging artists to look out for.

Artist: Carissa M.E. Baktay, Title: You Don’t Want Me as Much as I Want You to, too., Installation, Media: Mixed media, hair, gum, video, Date: 2010


Carissa M.E. Baktay

Carissa Baktay is an independent artist and glassblower living and working in Calgary, Alberta.  Born and raised in Calgary, she graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Glass from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2011. She has studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, Red Deer College, participated in an annual Snow and Ice sculpting residency in Norway and was accepted to the 2011/2011 Living Arts Center Fellowship in Glass.  The main investigation of her ongoing work explores the intangible sense of taboo with respect to private, personal and public objects and spaces within human interaction. The haptic experience of the spectator, where seeing becomes wholly intertwined with feeling, is employed through the use of controversial objects and situations. By using beauty, the viewer is lured into an intimate situation of participation with an object.  The viewer finds himself in an uncomfortable yet self-indulgent position governed through his own actions and incited by curiosity. Resolution is reached through the viewer’s sensation by harnessing sight and visual clues as a form of touch.

Erinn Logee

Growing up, Erinn wasn’t exposed to a variety of artist influences.  There were only two artists in her family, her great-uncles Domenic Cocolichio and Frederick Bedford.  Essentially, painting and drawing were the only media of art she were ever exposed to. Glass has a large base in Montreal, Quebec, from where she is originally, but it wasn’t until her move to Calgary, Alberta, that she discovered it.  When Erinn began her tutelage at the Alberta College of Art + Design, her dreams were of becoming a comic book artist post-graduation, but that all changed after just one glass course.  To put it simply, she fell in love.  This love for the medium blossomed beyond her personal practice and begat the Calgary Glass Initiative, which she and fellow alum Kai Scholefield started, and of which they currently share the position of President.  In addition to this post, Erinn is also the Prairies Representative for GAAC.

Artist: Ward Bastian, Title: Highlights 13, Media : Light Jet Print Rear-mounted on Plexi-glass, Date: 2011


Ward Bastian

Ward Bastian began at the Alberta College of Art + Design with intentions to graduate from the photography department. During the course of his undergraduate, however, he began working with glass and was unable to pull himself away. Because of his passion for photography as well as glass, Ward’s undergraduate practice was a combination of the two. His practice involved blowing black glass vessels and photographing them in a manner in which only the reflection of the light source would be visible in the photo. After graduating in 2011, Ward traveled to New York to take part in a photography residency at the School of Visual Arts. There he began to investigate a practice without the use of glass, specifically to photography’s relationship with light. Even though the focus of his practice has shifted, Ward continues to blow glass at the Double Struggle glass studio. He resides in Calgary, Alberta where he is continuing on with the photographic work he began in New York.

Artist: Elisabeth Cartwright, Title: As We Grow, Media: Glass, Copper wire, Found Objects, Date: 2011


Elisabeth Cartwright

Elisabeth is an artist engaged with light and how it brings existence to her pieces. She not only works in glass but also adds an element of mixed media to her work. Glass has boundless borders and as an artist influenced by her surroundings, she believes art is not just an expression, but a way of life. Elisabeth is a passionate individual and is an active participant in the local art community.  She is able to capture not only her audience’s imagination but evoke their emotions. In March 2011, Elisabeth was selected as one of fourteen artists to participate in The Alberta College of Art + Design’s Art aWEARness. She has also exhibited work in Seattle, Washington, and Corning, New York, as well as exhibiting work in Calgary and surrounding rural areas.

Artist: Erinn Logee, Title: The Agony of Beauty, Series 4, Dimensions: 19" x 6" x 4.5" & 21" x 8.5" x 5.5", Media: Mixed Media, Date: 2011, Photo Credit: Jillian LogeeThe Agony of Beauty, Series 4. Detail.



The Agony of Beauty, Series 4. Detail.


Diplomés ACAD 2011

Par Brianna Strong



Le Collège des Arts et du Design d’Alberta (ACAD) félicite ses derniers diplômés en date du programme verre. Ces travailleurs créatifs reconnus mènent à bien une série de projets aussi divers et variés que les méthodes qu’ils y emploient. L’étendue et la portée de leurs pratiques puisent leur source dans la réflexion fondamentale sur le matériel, les expériences relationnelles, la perception, la société, les questions psychologiques et la réalité. Ce sont des lauréats, représentants internationaux de la communauté du verre ainsi qu’artistes émergents à guetter.


Artist: Carissa M.E. Baktay, Title: You Don’t Want Me as Much as I Want You to, too., Installation, Media: Mixed media, hair, gum, video, Date: 2010


Carissa M.E Baktay


Carissa Baktay est une artiste indépendante et souffleuse de verre qui vit et travaille à Calgary en Alberta. Originaire de Calgary, elle a obtenu un Diplôme des Beaux-Arts en Verre du Collège des Arts et du Design d’Alberta en 2011. Elle a étudié à l’Ecole de Design de Rhode Island, au Collège Red Deer, participé à un congrès annuel de sculpture sur neige et glace en Norvège et fut admise dans la corporation du Centre des Arts Vivants du Verre de 2010/2011. Ses recherches actuelles portent sur exploration du sens abstrait du tabou dans son rapport avec des objets et des espaces privés, personnels ou publics, au sein des interactions humaines. L’expérience tactile du spectateur, où la vision devient pleinement liée aux sentiments, est exploitée à travers l’utilisation d’objets et de situations controversées. En utilisant la beauté, l’observateur est attiré dans une participation intime avec l’objet. L’observateur se retrouve dans une position inconfortable mais pourtant complaisante, dirigé par ses propres actes et tiraillé par sa curiosité. L’effet final est rendu par l’observateur qui ressent sa vision en une sorte de toucher.


Artist: Erinn Logee, Title: The Agony of Beauty, Series 4, Dimensions: 19" x 6" x 4.5" & 21" x 8.5" x 5.5", Media: Mixed Media, Date: 2011, Photo Credit: Jillian Logee

The Agony of Beauty, Series 4. Detail.


Erinn Logee


Durant son enfance, Erinn ne fut pas influencée par une grande variété d’artistes. Il n’y avait que deux artistes dans sa famille, ses grands-oncles Domenic Cocolichio et Frederick Bedford. La peinture et le dessein furent essentiellement les seules formes d’art auxquelles elle fut exposée. Malgré une communauté du Verre importante à Montreal au Quebec d’où elle est originaire, elle ne découvrit pourtant ce matériau qu’une fois après avoir déménagé à Calgary en Alberta. Lorsque Erinn commence ses études au Collège des Arts et du Design d’Alberta, elle rêve à l’époque de devenir artiste de bandes dessinées à l’obtention de son diplôme. Mais tous ses plans changèrent dès son premier cours sur le verre. Pour faire simple, elle tomba amoureuse. Cet amour pour le matériau s’épanouit au-delà de son travail personnelle et fut à l’origine de la Calgary Glass Initiative, qu’elle créa avec son ami et ancien élève Kai Scholefield, avec qui elle partage la présidence à l’heure actuelle. En plus de ce poste, Erinn est aussi la Représentante Prairies au sein du GAAC.


Artist: Ward Bastian, Title: Highlights 13, Media : Light Jet Print Rear-mounted on Plexi-glass, Date: 2011



Ward Bastian


Ward Bastian débuta au Collège des Arts et du Design d’Alberta avec l’intention d’obtenir un diplôme en photographie. Toutefois durant cette sa période d’études, il se mit à travailler le verre et fut incapable de s’en détacher par la suite. Comme il était passionné  la photographie et le verre, ses essais pratiques ont été une combinaison des deux. Ses travaux impliquaient le soufflage de vases en verre noir pour ensuite de les photographier de telle façon que seul le reflet de la source de lumière était visible sur la photo. Après l’obtention de son diplôme en 2011, Ward se rendit à New York pour participer à un séminaire de photographie à l’Ecole des Arts Visuels. Il commença à y travailler sans l’usage du verre, principalement sur la relation entre photographie et lumière. Même si sa pratique a aujourd’hui dérivé, Ward continue à souffler le verre à l’atelier Double Struggle. Il vit maintenant à Calgary en Alberta où il poursuit son œuvre photographique entamée à New York.



Artist: Elisabeth Cartwright, Title: As We Grow, Media: Glass, Copper wire, Found Objects, Date: 2011


Elisabeth Cartwright


Elisabeth est une artiste qui travaille sur la lumière et la façon dont celle-ci donne corps à ses œuvres. Elle utilise non seulement le verre pour son travail mais y ajoute aussi des éléments de matériaux variés. Pour elle le verre n’a pas de limite. Influencée par ce qui l’entoure, l’art n’est selon elle pas juste un mode d’expression, mais aussi un mode de vie. Elisabeth est une personne passionnée qui participe activement à la communauté d’art locale. Elle est non seulement capable de captiver l’imagination d’une audience mais peut même aussi leur susciter des émotions. En mars 2011, Elisabeth fait partie des quatorze artistes sélectionnés pour prendre part au programme Art aWEARness du Collège des Arts et du Design d’Alberta. Elle a aussi exposé ses œuvres à Seattle, Washington, Corning, New York, ainsi qu’à Calgary et ses environs.


Three years gone by:A look back on learning at Espace VERRE

by Valérie Paquin


The students: Carine Ledoux , Roxane Dupuis, Marythée Joncas-Daigle, Isabelle Ostiguy, Hadashah Hétu, Stefanie Marquis. (taken at Espace Verre)


People often refer to the pleasant atmosphere that reigns at Espace VERRE, a place to share ideas and knowledge, where seasoned professionals meet tomorrow’s glass artists. In 1989, François Houdé, Ronald Labelle, and their team welcomed the first glass artists-to-be enrolled in the fine craft technical program, glass option, leading to a college-level diploma offered in collaboration with the Cégep du Vieux Montréal. Twenty years after the first class of graduates, the latest six graduates of the Centre des métiers du verre du Québec – better known as Espace VERRE – reflect on their career path. They share their personal impressions on three years of exploration and experimentation with the different glass techniques and their applications.


At first, Roxane Dupuis was drawn towards the glass trade by the adrenaline rush that comes with working molten glass. After her high school studies, she decided to learn how to master this complex matter.


by Roxane Dupuis / Credits : Roxane Dupuis


To tread through a spectrum of concerns, Roxane externalizes her anxieties and her joys by creating artistic pieces, sculptures, and paintings. Although each piece is very different, her work always reflects a certain fear of the ephemeral. She often includes odd little elements in her concepts that illustrate, just as is her life philosophy, that to keep smiling is essential. She authenticates her work, as well as her feelings of the moment, by keeping the mark of certain tools.


In May 2011, Roxane received the Houdé-Mendel grant, which will enable her to pursue her pâte de verre research. She was also awarded a one-year GAAC membership with unlimited photos. She plans to study Art Therapy, as well as to join Fusion, Espace VERRE’s transitional workshop.


At fifteen, Hadashah Hétu was already interested in ceramics and drawing plans for wood kilns. Years later, she dabbles in both plant biology and agronomy at university, but will not pursue degrees in those fields. All the while, she enjoys ceramics classes in her spare time. While researching glazes and coloration, she discovers books on glass. During her undergraduate degree in Visual Arts, Hadashah experiments with kiln working and printing using pigments stable at high temperature. Meanwhile, she enrolls in an intensive weekend class at Espace VERRE to see if her instincts are right, and that’s where it all begins!


Série «L'histoire peut-elle...», Verre d'inspiration néerlandaise (XVIIe siècle), 2011, by Hadashah Hetu. Size : 24 x 8,7 x 8,7 cm / Credits : Hadashah Hétu


Hadashah’s interest in working with the heat of fire and kiln construction has withstood the test of time. She likes to move and the hot shop gives her that liberty. She also enjoys reading and doing research. Glass enables her to combine all these elements. Furthermore, aesthetically or visually, glass offers her interactions that ceramics would not have allowed: the floating of colours or images within a volume. By pursuing her desire for small, delicate blown pieces, Hadashah revels in the detail that makes one ponder the purpose of Venetian work.


Before studying at Espace VERRE, Marythée Joncas-Daigle completed a Diploma in Arts at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal. However, it was only when she discovered hot glass that she knew she had found her true calling.


by Marythée Joncas-Daigle / Credits: Michel Dubreuil


She chooses to pursue glassblowing because it is technically difficult and constantly pushes her to outdo herself. Moreover, glassblowing enables her to play with matters she likes, to combine techniques with her previously acquired skills. Since she enjoys painting, drawing, and glassblowing, her work is a combination of these elements. Marythée sometimes uses the graal technique or the addition of fused pieces in her works, which are always decorated with paintings or line drawings depicting characters. Created in graphite or enamels, these figures are transformed, stretched and enlarged when blown.  Marythée draws her inspiration from the inner world, sentiments, and state of consciousness brought on by interpersonal exchanges. Her pieces convey the visual dialogue of what is not said but indeed felt.


Carine Ledoux studied in Communications at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal for one year. During this period, she explored the spheres of radio and journalism, as well as photography and cinematic analysis. As the second year of the program is geared towards video editing and documentary – domains she was less interested in – she decided to move towards a more artistic program. She discovered Espace VERRE by chance.


by Carine Ledoux / Credits: Michel Dubreuil


For Carine, the last three years were instrumental in developing her creativity and enabled her to learn a lot about herself. In hindsight, she can now say with certainty that her inspiration was drawn directly from her past personal experience. She was also inspired by photography and, more particularly, by photographs dating back several centuries. Through her work, she attempts to convey the anxieties that may lie within each young girl and each woman.


From Plasticine snails to LEGO brick houses, Stéfanie Marquis’ creativity is nurtured from a very early age. Having been exposed to the construction industry since childhood, thanks to her family, she also studied architecture for three years. She has therefore been drawn to all aspects of interior design.


"Fenêtres sur coeur", 2011, by Stéfanie Marquis, Size : 10’’ x 18’’/ Credits : Michel Dubreuil


For its transparency, for its unique lustre, for its optical properties, for its strengths and weaknesses, glass is, according to Stéfanie, the ideal medium. It brings solution to her problems, it makes her think and question. Lately, Stéfanie has been exploring reoccurring themes: hearts, sexuality and sensuality. Within the next three years, she aims to have set up her own workshop. She plans to develop a line of household products and offer small objects that are unique, original, utilitarian, and decorative.


As soon as she finished high school, Isabelle Ostiguy knew she wanted to work with molten glass. She was mesmerized by the possibility of molding a solid material simply by reheating it. Glassblowing made her realize at what point she enjoys the heat and the almost infinite possibilities that glass offers.


by Isabelle Ostiguy / Credits: Isabelle Ostiguy

For Isabelle, nature is the first source of inspiration. She is fascinated by the image of the sprout that grows against all odds. This image is a great metaphor for how she sees her life as a glass artist. Her approach is aesthetically focused on the form and harmony between colours. By playing with various colour associations, she reinterprets floral forms. Her work consists of assembling different blown incalmos, allowing her to explore the contrast between opaque colours and the original translucence of glass. By creating millefiori murrines, she invents her own version of nature.  Being such a complex material, glass allows Isabelle to push the limits of her passion.  Her ultimate goal? Reaching perfection!


Thanks to the dynamics of studio work, the young ladies of the 20th class of graduates matured alongside one another. What do they recall from their three years at Espace VERRE? The atmosphere of small groups, the very personal, direct training, and the “small family” feeling that develops between students. Many laughs were shared, but also hardships – hardships that molded them, that made them grow. Glass is both fragile and resistant; it is a material that brings together, but that also creates tensions. Cold glass techniques, pâte de verre and flameworking teach patience; hot glass techniques teach communication and teamwork. All in all, it seems that the program not only develops skills, but also personalities!


Where will they be three years from now? Keep an eye out for these emerging artists: this is not the last you will hear about them.


Trois années sont si vite passées :

Retour sur la formation à Espace VERRE


par Valérie Paquin


The students: Carine Ledoux , Roxane Dupuis, Marythée Joncas-Daigle, Isabelle Ostiguy, Hadashah Hétu, Stefanie Marquis. (taken at Espace Verre)


On fait souvent référence à l’ambiance conviviale qui règne à l’école-atelier Espace VERRE, un lieu d’échange et de partage des savoirs, un endroit où les professionnels chevronnés rencontrent les verriers de demain. En 1989, François Houdé, Ronald Labelle et leur équipe accueillaient les premiers verriers en devenir inscrits au diplôme d’études collégiales en techniques de métiers d’art, option verre, offert en collaboration avec le cégep du Vieux Montréal. Vingt ans après la première cohorte de diplômés, les six dernières finissantes du Centre des métiers du verre du Québec – mieux connu sous l’appellation Espace VERRE – font le point sur leurs parcours. Elles nous livrent leurs impressions personnelles sur trois ans d’exploration et d’expérimentation des différentes techniques de travail du verre.



A priori, Roxane Dupuis fut attirée vers le métier d’artiste verrier par l’adrénaline ressentie lors du contact avec le verre en fusion. À la suite de ses études secondaires, elle choisit d’apprendre à maîtriser cette matière complexe.

by Roxane Dupuis / Credits : Roxane Dupuis


Pour passer à travers toute une gamme de préoccupations, Roxane extériorise ses angoisses et ses bonheurs dans la création d’objets d’art, de sculptures et de peintures. Toutes aussi différentes qu’elles puissent être, ses œuvres reflètent la crainte de l’éphémère. Elle ajoute souvent de petits éléments farfelus et divagants à ses concepts, qui expriment, comme sa philosophie de vie, qu’il importe de garder le sourire. En conservant certaines traces d’outils, elle authentifie ses œuvres, de même que ses états d’âme du moment.

En mai 2011, Roxane recevait la bourse Houdé-Mendel, qui lui permettra de poursuivre ses recherches en lien avec la pâte de verre, ainsi qu’un abonnement d’un an à la GAAC avec photos illimitées. Elle projette de faire des études en art-thérapie, ainsi que de faire partie de l’atelier de transition d’Espace VERRE, Fusion.



À quinze ans, Hadashah Hétu s’intéresse à la céramique et dessine déjà des plans de fours à bois. Des années plus tard, elle entreprend une formation universitaire en biologie végétale puis en agronomie, qu’elle ne poursuivra pas. En parallèle, elle suit des cours de céramique. C’est en faisant des recherches sur les glaçures et la coloration qu’elle découvre des livres sur le verre… Pendant ses études au baccalauréat en arts visuels, Hadashah fait des essais en thermoformage et impression avec des pigments stables à haute température. Entretemps, elle vient suivre un cours de fin de semaine à Espace VERRE pour vérifier si son orientation est la bonne, puis ça y est!

Série «L'histoire peut-elle...», Verre d'inspiration néerlandaise (XVIIe siècle), 2011, by Hadashah Hetu. Size : 24 x 8,7 x 8,7 cm / Credits : Hadashah Hétu

L’intérêt d’Hadashah pour le travail à la chaleur avec le feu et l’aménagement de fours a résisté au temps. Elle aime bouger et le verre à chaud lui offre cette liberté. Elle aime aussi la recherche, la lecture. Le verre lui permet de combiner le tout. Aussi, esthétiquement ou visuellement, le verre lui permet des superpositions que la céramique ne lui aurait pas autant permis : le flottement des couleurs ou des images à l’intérieur de son volume. Développant son penchant pour les petites pièces soufflées délicates, Hadashah se réjouit dans le détail qui amène à réfléchir, le pourquoi du travail dit vénitien.



Avant d’étudier à Espace VERRE, Marythée Joncas-Daigle complète un D.E.C. en arts au cégep du Vieux Montréal. Cependant, c’est lorsqu’elle découvre le verre à chaud qu’elle sait avoir trouvé la matière et la technique qui la fait vraiment vibrer.

by Marythée Joncas-Daigle / Credits: Michel Dubreuil


Elle choisit de développer le verre soufflé car le travail est techniquement difficile à réaliser et la pousse constamment à se surpasser. De plus, le verre soufflé lui permet de jouer avec les matières qu’elle aime, de combiner les techniques avec ses acquis antérieurs. Comme elle aime peindre, dessiner et souffler du verre, son travail est un combiné de ces éléments. Marythée utilise parfois la technique du graal ou l’intégration de parties thermoformées à ses pièces, qui sont toujours ornées de peintures ou de dessins au trait représentant des personnages. Faits de graphite ou d’émaux, ils se transforment, s’allongent ou grossissent au moment de les souffler.


Marythée puise son inspiration du monde intérieur, des sentiments et des états de conscience véhiculés par les échanges interpersonnels. Ses pièces sont l’expression d’un dialogue visuel pour lequel rien n’est vraiment dit mais plutôt ressenti.



Carine Ledoux étudie pendant un an au cégep du Vieux Montréal en communications. Durant cette année, elle explore le domaine de la radio, du journalisme, ainsi que de ceux de la photographie et de l’analyse cinématographique. Comme la deuxième année du programme est axée sur le montage vidéo et le documentaire – des domaines qui l’intéresse moins –, elle décide de se réorienter vers un programme plus artistique. Elle découvre Espace VERRE par pur hasard.

by Carine Ledoux / Credits: Michel Dubreuil


Pour Carine, les trois dernières années ont étés cruciales au niveau du développement de sa créativité et lui ont permis d’en apprendre énormément sur elle-même. Avec un peu de recul, elle peut maintenant dire avec certitude que ce qui l’a inspiré lors de son travail fut puisé directement dans son expérience personnelle antérieure. Elle s’est aussi inspirée de la photographie, et plus précisément de clichés datant de plusieurs décennies. Au travers de son travail, elle tente de représenter les angoisses qui peuvent se cacher au fond de chaque fille et de chaque femme.



Des escargots en pâte à modeler aux maisons en briques LEGO, Stéfanie Marquis exploite sa créativité depuis son plus jeune âge. Baignée depuis toujours dans le monde de la construction grâce à sa famille, elle fait aussi trois ans d’études en architecture. Elle aime donc ce qui s’y rapporte et ce qui touche au design d’intérieur.

"Fenêtres sur coeur", 2011, by Stéfanie Marquis, Size : 10’’ x 18’’/ Credits : Michel Dubreuil


Pour sa transparence, son éclat unique, pour ses propriétés optiques, ses forces et ses faiblesses, le verre est, selon Stéfanie, le médium idéal. Il lui apporte des problèmes à résoudre, il la fait réfléchir et se questionner. Depuis quelques temps, Stéfanie exploite des thèmes récurrents dans son travail : les cœurs, la sexualité et la sensualité. D’ici trois ans, elle voudrait avoir mis sur pied son propre atelier. Elle veut créer une gamme de produits pour la maison et offrir aux gens des petits produits uniques, originaux, utilitaires et décoratifs.



Dès la fin de ses études secondaires, Isabelle Ostiguy sait qu’elle veut travailler le verre en fusion. La possibilité de modeler un matériau solide seulement en le réchauffant l’intrigue énormément. Le verre soufflé est la technique qui lui a fait réaliser à quel point elle apprécie la chaleur et les possibilités quasi infinies qu’offre le verre.

by Isabelle Ostiguy / Credits: Isabelle Ostiguy


Pour Isabelle, la nature est source d’inspiration première. L’image de la jeune pousse qui réussit à grandir, peu importe les obstacles, la fascine. Cette image reflète bien la façon dont elle voit sa vie en tant qu’artiste verrier. Son approche est centrée sur l’esthétique de la forme et l’harmonie entre les couleurs. Par des jeux de couleurs, elle réinterprète les formes florales. Le travail qu’elle effectue consiste à assembler en incalmo plusieurs parties soufflées. Elle exploite ainsi le contraste entre l’opacité des couleurs et la touche de translucidité, qualité première du verre. En créant des millefiori, elle invente en quelque sorte sa propre nature.


Le verre est un matériau complexe, et relever des défis techniques est une véritable passion pour Isabelle… Son but ultime? L’atteinte de la perfection!



Grâce au travail en atelier et à la dynamique qui s’y crée, les finissantes de la 20e cohorte ont chacune mûri aux côtés de leurs compagnes de classe. Ce qu’elles retiennent de leurs trois années à Espace VERRE? L’ambiance des cours en petit groupe, la formation beaucoup plus personnalisée, directe, l’aspect « petite famille » qui se développe entre les étudiants. Beaucoup de rires furent partagés, mais aussi des épreuves – épreuves qui les ont façonnées, qui les ont fait grandir. Le verre est une matière à la fois fragile et résistante, qui rapproche et crée aussi des tensions. Le verre à froid, la pâte de verre et le chalumeau apprennent la patience; le verre à chaud apprend la communication en travail d’équipe. Somme toute, il semblerait que le programme développe non seulement les habiletés, mais aussi les personnalités!


Où seront-elles d’ici trois ans? Surveillez les débuts de ces jeunes artistes de la relève : vous n’avez pas fini d’entendre parler d’elles.


Canada Month at the Jam Factory


By Julia Reimer



November has been declared Canada Month in the Glass Studio at the Jam Factory.  During this month there will be several well-known Canadian glass artists either creating work at the Jam Factory or doing presentations about their work.  Some of the artists that will be infusing the Jam with some Canadian culture are as follows.


Julia Reimer


Julia Reimer will be the artist in residence at the Jam Factory for the month of November.  During that time, she will be doing a special project in the Glass Studio developing a series of work that reflects on nature’s ability to reclaim itself.  Julia has resided in Adelaide for the past nine months and during this time has researched the influence of the landscape on Australian craft design and examined how a different landscape, natural environment and culture inspire and influence craft artists.  During this project, she will create pieces with the associates in the Jam glass program, each of which, through their forms and texture, allude to the generative forces in nature.  Julia will also give an artist talk on her practice on November 2nd.



Clear Nest and Red Nest by Julia Reimer

Tyler Rock


Artist and instructor Tyler Rock will be at Jam Factory for an artist talk and to demonstrate his work in the glass studio on November 7th.  Tyler is currently doing his Masters in Visual Art by research at the University of South Australia in Adelaide.  During his Masters he has focused on the notion of a craft object as a false artefact, and its engagement with phenomena.  Specifically, his research is exploring the use of crafted objects as ‘instruments’ in order to engage phenomenological experience within site-specific environments.  As well, he is an instructor at the UNISA glass department.



Caroline Ouellette and Patrick Primeau


For a distinct perspective of Canadian glass, Caroline Ouellette and Patrick Primeau will be at Jam Factory for an artist talk and hot glass demo on November 14th.  Caroline is currently also doing her Masters in Visual Art by research at the University of South Australia.  The focus of her Masters is curiosity and the mechanism of seduction.  Patrick is renting time at the Jam Factory to create his work as well as working as an assistant for many glass artists within the large glass arts community in Adelaide that is based out of the Jam Factory.


Christine Cholewa


Christine Cholewa works with five other talented artists as part of the Glass Studio management team, which runs the Glass Studio at Jam Factory.  She is the organizer of Canada Month.  Christine was born near Toronto in 1979 and is the granddaughter of farmers who migrated from Poland and the Ukraine after the war.  Growing up on a vegetable farm is one of her favourite childhood memories.  After she graduated from Alberta College of Art and Design with her Bachelor of Fine Art, she made the long journey to Adelaide to participate in the two-year Associate Training Program at the Jam Factory Contemporary Craft and Design.  As well as working at the Jam Factory, she has a space at the beautiful Blue Pony studio. She enjoys making of all kinds, glassblowing, gardening, good food, and trying to learn the ukulele and piano accordion.



Wireless Connection by Christine Cholewa



Jaan Poldaas (another Canadian) will be around telling Canadian jokes and helping out!  Brad Bonar (another Canadian who works at the Jam) will be filming some of these events to put up on the internet and link this with the Glass Art Association of Canada web site.


There is a vibrant glass community in Adelaide that has a significant influence on Australian glass and the hub of this community is the Jam Factory. Perhaps, for this moment, given the number of Canadians that are working at the Jam Factory there can be a small exchange of ideas between these two similar but distant glass communities.



Tyler Rock



Tyler Rock


Networking in Glass: Pilchuck and GAS

By Michael Gray


I’ve lived in the small town of Merrickville, Ontario for the majority of my life. I’ve been surrounded by glass, both hot and cold, since I was a young boy. My dad, who owned a glass blowing shop in town, introduced me to the fascinating, manipulative material. Glass blowing and sculpting became an addictive hobby of mine; little did I know it would later become my profession. After graduating high school, I moved to Oakville, Ontario to attend a three-year glass blowing program at Sheridan College.


In the summer following my second year at Sheridan, I attended Pilchuck Glass School for the first time. Fortunately, I was able to attend and participate in Rik and Shelley Allen-Muzylowski’s session where I was taught new sculpting, assemblage, cold working, and graal techniques. I was also given the opportunity to personally work alongside Rik and Shelly, where I gained great experience in teamwork and coordination.  (Rik and Shelley’s website:


Pilchuck turned out to be an amazing place, with even more amazing people inhabiting it. The glass was ‘bumpin’ and so were the nightly festivities. Pilchuck had a thriving atmosphere, filled with creative and inspirational people.



Working on a horse from hell, at Pilchuck. Rik Allen, Shelley Muzylowski – Allen



Following my summer at Pilchuck, I returned to Oakville Ontario, where I began my third year in Sheridan College’s glass blowing program. Here, I was able apply new ideas, techniques, and enthusiasm into my work. Third year was a very formative time for me; I’ll always miss the sense of community at Sheridan College.



“Catharsis” The last piece I made in third year, a concept I have been working on for 3 years now. This piece received an Honorable mention in the GAS 2010 Student show. Material: Glass, Metal, Year:2010, Size: W. 15’ L. 19’ H.18’



At the end of my third year, Koen Vanderstukken informed our class that Sheridan had been offered to do a demo at the Glass Art Society (GAS) 2010 glass conference in Louisville, Kentucky. I had never been at a glass conference before but had heard great things about it at Pilchuck. Rik, a board member of GAS and a coordinator for the conference, asked me to be his assistant. Fortunately for me, this position also involved assisting his wife, Shelley, in a hot shop demo at the Cressman Center of Fine Art. Some friends from Sheridan – Will Ruppel, Ainsley Francis and Jen Van Herten – all agreed this was an excellent opportunity, and joined me for the long twelve hour drive. We also had Sheridan alumna Silvia Jenson, owner of Colour Fusion, accompany us for the ride, as she was part of the tech display.  (Colour Fusion link:


I got my first taste of a glass conference at the 2010 GAAC conference in Montreal, Canada. Although GAAC is a smaller group than GAS, the enthusiasm, demonstrations and parties were easily comparable.


The Louisville conference was eye opening.  I spent the bulk of my time at Flame Run, where Rik was the hot shop coordinator. I was kept fairly busy working as Rik’s assistant; he had me doing many different jobs (i.e getting Rik lunch and acting as a human plinth at the glass auction). Rik made sure to introduce me to everyone around us, and this helped me to quickly build a network of new friends at GAS.


The two demos I participated in were intense: Shelley made a horse with a rocket engine strapped to its back. It looked as though it was flying through the air. The Sheridan team made a caricature monster head using Juicy Lucy the portable hot shop van. It was an honour to be a part of the team working in one of the smallest mobile hot shops in North America. Overall, the two demos were a success, and so was the trip to Kentucky.



Shelley’s Fire horse with rocket attachment looks ready to blast off.



After hibernating in the apartment above my father’s glass studio for the winter, I emerged from my den to attend my second annual GAS conference, Creative Crossroads, in Seattle (June 1-5, 2011).


It was an amazing adventure being in the glass capital of North America. Everywhere you go in Seattle, glass and art is the central focus. The city itself seems as if it were built around art. I wasn’t the only Canadian attending this conference.  Meagan Smith, a resident of Seattle and current student at Sheridan, provided accommodations for me and eight other Sheridan students and alumni. It seemed effortless to meet and connect with other groups of artists, while traveling with my enthusiastic friends.


Even though I was once again busy acting as Rik’s conference assistant, I was still able to see numerous demos at Seattle Hot Glass Studio. Some of the highlights included demos by Raven Skyriver and Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen. They are both very talented sculptors and it was fascinating watching their team assemble sculptures so fluidly.  (Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen demo at Seattle Hot Glass studio


While touring Seattle, I was able to participate in a demo at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. The museum has a fantastic collection of contemporary American glass; the work in the gallery was outstanding! My favourite section was Kids Design Glass. The artist would choose one drawing out of a group of children’s designs and would then reconstruct it in glass.  I was blown away by the precision and determination put into each piece of art. I assisted Rik and Shelly in their piece.  They chose a young boy’s drawing to recreate, an alien in a space suit giving the peace sign.



Drawing of the alien in a space suit, giving the peace sign.



It was a tricky piece but we were all up for a challenge. We started off by making the legs and torso. After connecting those, we attached the eyes, arms, a control panel and a jet pack. It took us three attempts to attach the glass dome over the head, but eventually we perfected it. It was well worth the hard work, especially after seeing the joy beaming from the face of the boy who was sitting in the audience.



Finished alien in a space suit; he comes in peace!, Photo by: Ken Emly



Performing in front of a large audience, surrounded by cameras, was not easy. I was nervous, excited, and cautious of all the eyes fixed upon us but once we started most of those nerves vanished. I became enveloped in the piece, focusing on coordination, communication, and rhythm. It was easy to connect and flow with such a positive and encouraging team.  (Museum of Glass Tacoma website –



The Museum Of Glass team, after finishing the alien, Photo by: Ken Emly



Attending Pilchuck, the GAAC conference, and the GAS conference gave me the opportunity to build a network with an abundance of glass artists throughout the world. These amazing experiences opened my eyes to the endless possibilities within the North American glass scene. Not only did I make lifelong friends and unforgettable memories, but I also gained new ideas and techniques that have furthered me as an artist.


After graduating Sheridan College in 2010, I moved back to Merrickville, Ontario, where I now work as the head gaffer at my dad’s glass blowing studio. At the store, Kevin Gray Glass Blowing – soon to be named Gray Art Glass, we make a variety of retail and wholesale products. I also continue to design and create sculptures that we display and sell within our gallery.  (Link to article on Kevin Gray Glass


I look forward to GAS 2012 in Toledo Ohio, and can’t wait to learn, grow and connect with more of the glass society. Hopefully I’ll see you there!



Michael Gray and Kevin Gray working together on a large bowl.



Michael Gray’s website:


Sheridan Abroad

Claire Anderson



Dear fellow GAAC members, I would like to take another moment of your time, if you don’t mind, to once again tell you about how great Sheridan was. Yes, my fellow classmates and the faculty were great, I learned a lot, blah blah blah, but I would like to speak specifically about all the opportunities we were granted. There were many new opportunities for our year specifically, such as all the field trips to the good ol’ US of A that were available to us.


Now, let me level with you for a minute: it takes a lot of kahones to take a busload of rowdy, young artists to another country. I have to take my hat off to the organizers and chaperones of this trip as we discovered one very important fact. Alcohol in America is cheap. Very cheap. And there IS such a thing as a liquor discount store. The instructors at Sheridan must have had either a lot of faith in us or some sort of back up plan.


These trips were not only a lot of fun, but very educational. In first year my class was especially new to glass.  Only the lovely Katrina Cheung had any previous glass experience and that in a flame working production studio. The vast majority of the class could barely even gather at that point. Every year there is a Corning, NY trip for the first years (at very reasonable rates). We spent a few days in the city, getting introduced first hand to the wider world of glass art, toured the Corning Museum, and got a sneak peek at the new contemporary section they were still installing. We spent hours at the Corning library, watching videos and researching anything we wanted about glass. There was even a tour of a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.



1. 'Corning' Group Shot, 2009, Photo credit: anonymous



We spent our days absorbing as much as we could about glass art and design and our nights absorbing some local culture (such as singing karaoke with the locals at ‘The Gloryhole’). It was an amazing eye-opener of a trip, perfectly suited for first year as I saw things done with glass that I did not even realize could be done. It was the first step towards training us to think outside the box.


When we returned to the studio at Sheridan, we were full of new ideas and concepts. Our somewhat naive view of glass had been blown open (get it?). We took off in different directions, using what we had seen to fuel our work. There was also much more experimentation post-Corning, simply because we had not fully realized the versatility of glass before.


When our class finally made it to third year, we got a little bonus trip. Sheridan College and the Rochester Institute of Technology decided it would be a great idea to do a student exchange. The trip was a huge success. Glass art was made and so were strong connections and (brace yourselves for some cheese) life-long friends.


We headed to Rochester first where we got to see and experience their beautiful new glass blowing studio where we did a demonstration and then worked together in the studio. It was interesting to work with an entirely new crowd. Our class was so small and very much accustomed to each other’s working habits and styles, so it was an incredible experience for all of us to be pushed out of our comfort zones and learn new things. Koen Vanderstukken gave an amazing lecture, which was followed by one-on-one discussions with the Rochester students. He spent time with each student, going over their work, asking why they make what they make and where they planned on taking their work in the future.


The Rochester students then visited Canada and Sheridan’s facilities for glass. Me and my roommates, Aurora Darwin and Silvia Taylor, managed to cram five of them into our tiny basement apartment. Good thing they didn’t need such frivolities as personal space, proper living quarters, or even beds.  During the day we watched a glass demo by David Schnuckel and then played glass Olympics in our studio. Michael Rogers gave a lecture about his work and we were able to have one-on-one discussions with him about our work. It took all day, but we got to go over as much or as little as we wanted about our ideas and what we were currently working on. The new and unique insight into our work was both inspiring and refreshing. It is important to get as many opinions as possible, but again, being studio junkies in a small studio, it was refreshing to escape the Sheridan bubble.


When the Rochester students left, there were tearful hugs good-bye followed by another burst of new inspirations and ideas. We had talked a lot of glass and experienced a very different learning environment than what we had been raised in. Again, it was an invaluable experience that I was so grateful for.


Our last trip, to SOFA in Chicago, was the bee’s knees. Our class crammed onto a bus and drove for about eight hours. It was well worth the ride there (and even the one back). SOFA was such an incredible and grounding experience. I had never seen a show like it. There were emerging artists side by side with the old classics and many of them were also selling work.



2. 'Chicago' Small group shot, 2010. Photo credit: Claire Anderson3. 'Chicago' City Shot, 2010. Photo Credit: Claire Anderson




3. 'Chicago' City Shot, 2010. Photo Credit: Claire Anderson


We split up to attend lectures, each according to his/her specific interest, and wandered through the show trying to absorb as much as possible. The exhibiting artists were, for the most part, amiable and full of great advice, once again displaying the strong community felt by glass artists. The trip to Chicago was different from our other excursions because SOFA gave us something tangible to focus on; it gave us a realistic goal to strive for. Walking through the aisles envisioning myself there (some day), kicked in an internal drive that is still working, even though my comfortable Sheridan support network is now gone.


There was one more trip (although not through the school) that many of us made, and that, of course, was the GAS conference. The incredibly gracious Megan Smith (now a summer Harbourfront resident) opened up her home to eleven Canadians, all of us Sheridan alumni or current students. There were twelve of us in one house for a little over a week and so things got a little outrageous.


This was the first conference that many of us had gone to. The day before it started we went to the Tacoma Museum of Glass, where we watched one of our own, Michael Gray, work side by side with Rik Allen and Shelley Muzylowski. We even got to stick around after the museum closed because the piece took a little longer than expected.



4. 'Seattle. Rik Allen working with two assistants while Shelley Muzylowski Allen looks on. 2011. Photo Credit: Claire Anderson



Once the conference started, we teamed up with our RIT friends, as well as many others we met along the way, to see amazing demonstrations, lectures and exhibits. Almost all of us participated, showing pieces in the student exhibition and in the silent auction. It was my first time meeting many of the American artists, but in true glassblowing spirit, we were welcomed with open arms. I learned how easy it was to network and get to know the artists you respect and admire. It was encouraging to see the passion in everyone there and to talk about glass, concept, technique and style. It was the first time since graduating that I was immersed in the world of glass. I could talk about it constantly and not irritate everyone around me.



5. 'Seattle Group Shot' 2011, Photo Credit: Random Strangers



Glass is an exciting world to get into and what I have taken from all of this is to keep moving. Do not get comfortable where you are. Every time I experienced something new it affected my work and working habits in a positive manner. I was instilled with a stark determination to remain a part of this close community and to work incredibly hard to make it. The field trips we had the opportunity to go on were not only a blast and a bonding experience for the students and faculty, but an integral part of being a glass artist. We have to travel and experience new things to stay passionate and keep the ideas and artwork flowing.


Sheridan à l’étranger


Claire Anderson



Chers amis membres du GAAC, à moins que ça ne vous dérange, je voudrais que vous m’accordiez un peu de votre temps pour vous dire encore une fois à quel point Sheridan fut un endroit génial. Certes les camarades et la fac étaient géniaux et j’ai beaucoup appris, et bla bla bla, mais je voulais surtout vous parler des opportunités qui nous ont été offertes. De nombreux  projets ont vu le jour pour notre promo uniquement, comme ce voyage scolaire en direction des bonnes vieilles US.


Laissez moi vous dire que ça demande pas mal de courage pour emmener un car complet d’artistes jeunes et chahuteurs dans un autre pays. Je me dois de lever mon chapeau aux organisateurs et aux chaperons de ce voyage qui nous permit alors de découvrir une chose très importante. L’alcool aux Etats-Unis est moins cher. Bien moins cher. Et les magasins discount d’alcool ne sont pas un mythe. Nos professeurs à Sheridan ont du, soit avoir une confiance en nous incroyable, ou bien un solide plan de secours.


En plus d’être très plaisants, ces voyages furent très instructifs. En première année, ma classe était particulièrement novice en verre. Seule la charmante Katrina Cheung avait de l’expérience dans le verre, et ce dans un atelier de production au chalumeau. La plus grande partie de notre classe s’y retrouvait à peine. Chaque année, un voyage est organisé pour les premières années (à un prix très raisonnable) pour aller voir le musée Corning à New York. Quelques jours dans la ville pour y découvrir les bases du milieu de l’art du verre en général. Nous avons visité le Musée Corning et même jeté un coup d’œil discret à la nouvelle section contemporaine alors en cours d’installation. Nous avons passé des heures à la bibliothèque du Corning, à regarder des vidéos et à rechercher tout ce que nous voulions savoir sur le verre. Nous avons même eu droit à une visite guidée d’une maison agencée par Frank Lloyd Wright.


1. 'Corning' Group Shot, 2009, Photo credit: anonymous


Nous avons employé nos journées à absorber le plus d’informations possibles sur l’art et le design du verre et nos nuits à absorber certaines cultures locales (comme les soirée karaoké avec les locaux au ‘Gloryhole’). Parfaitement adapté aux premières années, ce voyage nous a admirablement ouvert les yeux, me faisant découvrir des possibilités de faire avec le verre auxquelles je n’aurai jamais pensé en premier lieu. Ce fut le premier pas vers notre éducation visant à réfléchir hors des sentiers battus.


Une fois de retour à l’atelier de Sheridan, notre tête était remplie de nouvelles idées et de nouveaux concepts. Notre vision quelque peu naïve du verre avait été soufflée (vous avez saisi?). Nous sommes tous partis dans différentes voies, réutilisant ce que nous avions pu voir pour nous inspirer. Beaucoup plus de choses ont été testées post-Corning, tout simplement parce qu’avant cela, nous n’avions pas vraiment pris conscience de cette polyvalence du verre.


Quand la classe est enfin passée en troisième année, nous avons eu droit à un petit voyage bonus. Le Collège Sheridan et l’Institut de Technologie de Rochester ont eu la bonne idée de vouloir faire un échange. Le voyage fut un grand succès. L’art du verre, des liens forts et (attention séquence émotion) des rencontres pour la vie y furent partagés.


Nous sommes d’abord allés à Rochester où nous avons pu voir et tester leur magnifique atelier de soufflage de verre, y faire une démonstration et y travailler ensuite tous ensemble. Travailler avec des regards neufs fut enrichissant. Notre classe étant très petite, on s’était habitués aux habitudes et aux styles de travail des uns et des autres et ce fut une expérience géniale pour nous tous que de pouvoir être poussés en dehors de nos zones de confort et d’apprendre de nouvelles choses. Koen Vanderstukken nous a donné un excellent cours, suivi de discussions en tête à tête avec les étudiants de Rochester. Il consacra du temps à chaque étudiant, regardant tout leur travail, leur demandant pourquoi ils faisaient ce qu’ils faisaient et quel futur était envisagé pour leur travail.


Les élèves de Rochester sont ensuite venus au Canada visiter les locaux de Sheridan pour le verre. Mes colocataires Aurora Darwin et Silvia Taylor et moi-même avons réussi à en caser cinq dans notre tout petit appartement en sous-sol. Une bonne chose qu’ils ne se souciaient guère de détails comme avoir un espace personnel, un logement décent ou même un lit. Durant la journée nous allions voir les démonstrations de verre par David Schnuckel et nous avons ensuite joué aux Olympiques du Verre dans notre atelier. Michael Rogers nous donna un cours sur son travail et chacun pu avoir un entretien personnel avec lui. Cela dura bien toute la journée, mais on était en droit de lui en demander autant qu’on voulait concernant nos idées et notre travail du moment. Avoir un nouvel aperçu original sur notre travail nous a inspiré et rafraîchi le cerveau. Il est toujours bon d’obtenir le plus d’opinions possibles, et pour les accros de notre petit atelier que nous étions, cela nous permis de pouvoir nous évader de notre bulle Sheridan.


Les élèves de Rochester repartirent au beau milieu des embrassades et des larmes auxquels succéda un jaillissement de nouvelles inspirations et d’idées. Nous avions beaucoup parlé du verre et découvert un milieu d’apprentissage différent de celui dans lequel nous avions progressé. Ce fut encore une précieuse expérience et j’en suis très reconnaissante.


Notre dernier voyage au SOFA de Chicago fut l’apothéose. Toute la classe s’entassa dans un bus et roula pendant huit heures. Le trajet en valut la chandelle (et celui du retour aussi). SOFA fut une expérience mémorable et qui apporta du solide. Jamais je n’avais vu une telle exposition. Des artistes émergents, assis côtes à côtes avec des grands classiques et dont la plupart d’entre eux vendaient leurs œuvres.


2. 'Chicago' Small group shot, 2010. Photo credit: Claire Anderson

3. 'Chicago' City Shot, 2010. Photo Credit: Claire Anderson


Nous nous sommes séparés pour pouvoir assister aux conférences selon les domaines de prédilection de chacun et nous nous sommes promenés dans l’exposition en essayant d’en absorber le plus possible. Les artistes exposants étaient pour la plupart aimables et pleins de bons conseils, faisant ressortir encore une fois ce sentiment communautaire fort au sein des artistes verriers. Le voyage à Chicago a été bien différent en soit de nos autres excursions, car la SOFA nous a apporté un élément concret sur lequel se baser et nous donner un but réaliste à atteindre. En marchant dans les allées, je parvenais me visualiser au même endroit (un jour), poussée dans un élan international qui me porterai lorsque mon soutient confortable de Sheridan ne serai plus.


Il y eut un voyage supplémentaire (non par le biais de l’école cette fois) que beaucoup d’entre nous avons fait et cela fut bien évidemment la conférence du GAS. L’incroyable et gracieuse Megan Smith (maintenant résidente au Harbourfront pour l’été) a ouvert ses portes à onze Canadiens, tous anciens élèves et étudiants actuels de Sheridan. A douze dans une seule maison pour un peu plus d’une semaine, les choses sont devenues un peu effarantes.


Ce fut notre toute première conférence pour la plupart d’entre nous. La veille de l’ouverture, nous avons été au Musée du Verre de Tacoma, où nous avons pu admirer l’un des nôtres Michael Gray, travailler aux côtés de Rik Akken et Shelley Muzylowski. Nous avons même eu le droit de rester passé la fermeture du musée, car certaines pièces avaient nécessité plus de temps que prévu.


4. 'Seattle. Rik Allen working with two assistants while Shelley Muzylowski Allen looks on. 2011. Photo Credit: Claire Anderson


Une fois la conférence débutée, nous avons retrouvé nos amis du RIT ainsi que de nombreux autres rencontrés au cours du chemin pour aller voir ensemble les extraordinaires démonstrations, les conférences et les expositions. Nous y avons presque tous participé, exposant des pièces dans l’exposition étudiante ou participant à la vente aux enchères sous pli. J’ai rencontré beaucoup des artistes américains pour la première fois, et dans le bon esprit du soufflage de verre, ils nous ont accueillis à bras ouverts. J’ai compris à quel point il était facile de se créer un réseau et d’arriver à rencontrer des artistes respectés et admirés. Découvrir la passion de chacun et pouvoir parler du verre, de sa conception, de sa technique et de son style fut très encourageant. C’était la première fois depuis l’obtention de mon diplôme que je me retrouvais véritablement immergée dans le monde du verre. Enfin je pouvais en parler constamment sans jamais énerver personne autour de moi.


5. 'Seattle Group Shot' 2011, Photo Credit: Random Strangers


Le verre est un monde fascinant j’en ai retenu qu’il faut toujours aller de l’avant. Ne pas rester là où l’on se sent bien. Chaque fois que j’ai tenté quelque chose de nouveau, cela a eu un impact positif sur mon oeuvre ainsi que sur mes habitudes de travail. J’étais déterminée à faire partie de cette communauté rapprochée et j’étais prête à travailler extrêmement dur pour y parvenir. Les voyages scolaires auxquels j’ai pu participer ne furent pas seulement épatants et créateurs de liens pour les étudiants et les facs, mais ils sont aussi partie intégrante de la vie d’artiste verrier. Nous devons voyager et découvrir de nouvelles choses pour rester passionnés, continuer à avoir des idées et surtout créer des œuvres d’art.