A Different Sheridan

June 15, 2013

By: Steven Tippin

As you walk through the doors to the Craft wing at Sheridan College, there is definitely a familiarity sense of the past. It is like being transported back in time to when you were a student there and reminded of those good ol’ days.

For many graduates, Sheridan is the place that set our lives in a different direction. Some of us met our best friends there, our husbands or wives there (some of us even met our ex-husbands and ex-wives there) and many of us began a very different kind of relationship there; one with glass.

Many things are still there to remind us of those magical days enrolled at Sheridan. To give you some context, I started the program in 2005 and graduated in 2008 – and I realize that for some of you this seems very recent, but after talking to a few of the students currently enrolled, they think that 2008 was a lifetime ago; perhaps they are right. It definitely has been enough time for many changes to take place within the program. Here are six major changes that I noticed:

Sheridan introduces Artist in Residence program

The most recent change to Sheridan’s Glass department was the addition of an artist residency program, which grants two artists full use of the studio, two blowslots, storage, and the title Artist in Residence (AiR). The program started in January 2013 and was filled by two professional artists, Patrick Fisher and Steven Tippin (yours truly). It is a fantastic opportunity for both the AiRs to utilize the fully equipped studio and for the students that get to pick a professional artist’s brain about anything they wonder about. Being the AiR also offers a unique vantage point to see the school through different eyes and to see that many things have evolved within the department.

One of many results from Sheridan’s collaborative SHED project

One of many results from Sheridan’s collaborative SHED project

One of the first things that I experienced during my first week as the AiR was the massive collaborative project known as SHED. The first week of the winter semester the students from all four craft departments (Glass, Ceramics, Furniture and Textiles) were arranged into groups and challenged to make original lighting solutions, from planning to production, in one week. It allowed students to experience the other studios and work with completely foreign materials and tools with a common goal. Needless to say, it was frantic but the results were inspired, original and extremely varied. What more could be expected from such an incredible environment? Please see Ron Vincent’s SHED article found in this issue.

Another result from Sheridan’s SHED project

Another result from Sheridan’s SHED project

Changes to structure of program

The biggest change that I noticed is to the structure of the program.  Just as when I was enrolled, students spend the first year of the three-year program learning the basics of each area of the glass department. However, now students in second-year can select a major and minor from within those different areas (coldworking, hotshop, kilnworking, flameworking or sandcasting).

Choosing one area over another does not limit students to only those studios but it does give them greater access and priority in their selected areas. For instance, a hotshop major has two four-hour blowslots where the non-major students only have one scheduled slot. This allows the students to focus more on what they feel best suits them, allows better access to those selected areas and also ensures that resources are better directed to those who want them. Back in my day, the gloryholes seemed to be on nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week; but now, in an era of ecological responsibility, the hotshop closes every day at midnight and is not lit up on Sunday.

“Koen-cepts” development class

The other major change to the structure is the concept development class that anchors the program and allows students to further develop whatever they are working on, even in other glass classes. This “Koen-cepts” class (as it is referred to by the students due to it being taught by department head, Koen Vanderstukken) is the main source of artistic concept development that balances the technical instruction of the other classes.

Glass lathe and electroplate

Sheridan College now has a glass lathe in the flameworking room that allows students to flamework boro tubes and rods with a torch while the machine spins at a constant speed. No more sore wrists! It also allows for much larger and precise torch work than if done by hand alone.

Kirill Korzinski working recycled glass on the lathe

Kirill Korzinski working recycled glass on the lathe

Did you have a chance to electroplate while you studied at Sheridan? Nope, nether did I. Now those lucky students have access to an electroplating station to bond glass and metal at a molecular level. How cool is that? Silvia Taylor, a recent graduate of the program, used the electroplater to develop a successful new body of work and has been awarded a GAAC project grant to set up her own electroplater in her studio to continue her glass and copper alchemy.

Silvia Taylor’s electroplated Journey Vessels. Glass and copper.

Silvia Taylor’s electroplated Journey Vessels. Glass and copper.

Ecologically responsible

There has been a hot casting and sandcasting area for as long as I can remember at Sheridan. It is a day tank (different from the continuous melt furnace used for glass blowing) that has a curious deep blue colour due to it being fed recycled colour. All of the trimmed lips and failed overlays that would otherwise be destined for the trash now are used in the hot casting furnace. This is a fantastic way to save the cost of new glass, ensure ecological responsibility and also gives a very cool colour to be able to cast with.

Kurt Fisher’s Bench. Steel with sandcasted glass insert

Kurt Fisher’s Bench. Steel with sandcasted glass insert

Faculty changes

The faculty and staff have changed slightly since I was a student in 2008, although there are still familiar faces too.

Jason Cornish is still the studio technologist and he ensures the studio runs as perfectly as ever and is still the foundation that makes the program possible.

Koen Vanderstukken is still the department head, inspiring the students to see the world of art and not just the world of glass while constantly pushing his students to critically think and react, sharpening both their skills and thoughts.

Brad Sherwood is still leading the way in the flameworking studio and can make any tool, mounting hardware or problem-solve any predicament that you find yourself in.

Lucy Rousel stills teaches the students about Glass History with a kindness and understanding that exemplifies her personality.

Andy Kuntz is still inspiring the glassblowers to not let simple problems such as not having an assistant in the hotshop get in the way of great glassmaking. Andy teaches to self-punty, work smart and honest but Andy is also now instructing in the cold working and engraving area of the studio.

Sally McCubbin replaced Blaise Campbell and inspires her glassblowing students to be great both technically at the bench and also in the development of the design before they start working there.

Orion Arger teaches the techniques of the kilnworking  to students and encourages experimentation, observation and diligent record-keeping of each firing to use as guides for future firings.

Paula Vandermey  made the sandcasting area one of the coolest places to work in by pushing her students to experiment and enjoy the procedure that yields the results.

Changes bring opportunities

It was a fantastic semester working alongside the faculty and students at Sheridan College as the Artist in Residence. It brought back so many great memories of days gone by but also made me wish that I had all of the opportunities that the current students have. A lot has changed and all of the changes are for the better. Keep up the good work Sheridan. I cannot wait to see what changes will come next.


Steven Tippin is a glassmaker in Ontario that simply could not turn down an opportunity as great as returning to Sheridan College to be the Artist in Residence for four months. He is also the Ontario representative for GAAC as well as its new President. www.steventippin.com


Canadian Glass

Re-published from Dutch publication Fjoezzz

By David James


The retirement and passing of two of its pioneers has given the Canadian glass community an opportunity to reflect on how it has evolved over almost forty-five years.

The American ceramist who founded the first academic glass program in Canada is putting down his punty. Robert Held introduced glass at Sheridan College, Toronto in 1969 after learning some basics in a summer workshop at Penland, North Carolina.

A year later, Held converted another ceramist to glass who went on to be a pioneer in Europe. Finn Lyngaard of Denmark came to Sheridan to lecture about ceramics. He left seduced by the new material and went on to found the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft. He passed away two years ago.

Held, who turns seventy in March, grew his Vancouver, British Columbia operation into the second largest production hot shop in North America. His works are in shops and galleries across the continent and have been gifts to royalty. Just like the spirited hippie he was in the ‘60s, Held is skipping off with his fiancé to Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast.

Sheridan College was joined in 1975 by a glass program at the Alberta College of Art and Design – ACAD in Calgary and in 1983 by Espace VERRE in Montréal whose program gained college status in 1989. Together, they have graduated some 760 glass artists.
“It’s a very different climate from when I was at Sheridan in the ‘80s”, says Brad Copping, past president of the Glass Art Association of Canada. “At that time, we sold as many vessels as we wanted. Glass blowing reigned supreme and we were eager to set up hot shops!” Copping, whose sculptural works are in museums, says “the market place has become much more sophisticated in its appreciation of glass and if younger artists do not have a production line with their own design sensibility, they may be in tough luck.”

Sally McCubbin and her partner Aaron Oussoren operate a Toronto studio, TIMID glass, whose creations exemplify these new exigencies. Thoughtful in design, thoughtful in process efficiency, thoughtful in quality, and thoughtful about their community, they create innovative utilitarian objects as beautiful additions to the home. A minimalist aesthetic pervades their sculptural designs from production equipment to final object.

'Precious Timber' by Sally McCubbin  -photo credit: Will + Raina

‘Precious Timber’ by Sally McCubbin -photo credit: Will + Raina


'Precious Water' by Sally McCubbin -photo credit: Will + Raina

‘Precious Water’ by Sally McCubbin -photo credit: Will + Raina

McCubbin teaches part-time at Sheridan where she graduated eight years ago. Afterwards, like Copping before her and many leading glass artists who are mentoring the next generation, she refined her practice as a three-year resident at the glass studio incubator, Harbourfront Centre, run as part of a multi-faceted not-for-profit cultural program on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto.

Since its glory holes opened in 1974, Harbourfront Centre has helped some seventy graduates gain their feet before going into their own practice. The centre accepts applications from across Canada and beyond. Director Melanie Egan sees “a rising confidence that one can make different kinds of work or a combination of work  – production, decorative, architectural, sculpture – without suffering some outdated idea of ‘selling out’. It’s positively refreshing.”

That change was hastened at Sheridan in 2006, with the arrival of a new and current head of glass, Koen Vanderstukken, former studio head at the State Institute of Art and Crafts in Mechelen, Belgium. McCubbin says he helped break down the old tension between art/sculpture, craft and design and the hierarchy of methods.

Similarly, at Montréal’s Espace VERRE, director general Christian Poulin relates that blowing and kiln casting were joined by sand casting, kiln work, cold work, neon, multi-media construction and particularly in the past five years by flame working which is much less expensive for students to set up on their own.

Several of these currents are encapsulated in the sculptural and production work of Catherine Labonté, who graduated from Espace VERRE in 2002. She has taken the classic form of a bell jar to create drama and humour within.  Sometimes distorted and decorated with screen print applied imagery, Labonté’s bell jars envelop a wooden stage upon which her pâte-de-verre cast crystal animals, with flameworked eyes, perform a story, like the cartoon characters from her youth. Beneath the stage, a little drawer holds a secret to discover.

'Catch Me' by Catherine Labonté photo credit: Andrew Gene

‘Catch Me’ by Catherine Labonté photo credit: Andrew Gene

'Wanna Play?' by Catherine Labonté photo credit: Andrew Gene

‘Wanna Play?’ by Catherine Labonté photo credit: Andrew Gene

Graduates from the college programs are increasingly leaving Canada to pursue further academic and applied education in Europe, Australia and the United States.

After Rachael Wong completed her program at ACAD, she went to Harbourfront Centre and then completed a master of fine arts in sculpture at Alfred University in western New York State in 2009.

Working primarily in installation with blown glass components, Wong’s thesis sculpture received an Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the United States-based International Sculpture Centre and the 2010 Royal Bank of Canada Glass Prize.

'Flat Depth' at Harbourfront Centre  by Rachael Wong -photo credit: Rachael Wong

‘Flat Depth’ at Harbourfront Centre by Rachael Wong -photo credit: Rachael Wong

'Red Effect' by Rachael Wong -photo credit: Rachael Wong

‘Red Effect’ by Rachael Wong -photo credit: Rachael Wong

Wong’s signature work consists of curvaceous protrusions that seem to emanate from the other side of a pristinely contrasting painted wall. They defy gravity, held in place with shadowy echoes, some painted while others cast by overhead lighting.

Another ACAD graduate, Jaan Poldaas, has gone down under to Australia, which has attracted several Canadians. ACAD’s current head, Kenyan born Natali Rodrigues, helped lead the way ten years ago when she was the first Canadian to receive a Master of Arts at the Australia National University’s Canberra School of Art.

Nick Mount, a father of Australian glass, welcomes the exchange of artists and teachers with Canada. “We have to work hard at seeing what is going on in the rest of the world. It is important for us to encourage people from other cultures to come and work with us and we really benefit from what ever it is that they bring with them leave with us if and when they travel on.”

Poldaas, who once tried his hand at graffiti art, headed to Adelaide a few years ago to immerse himself in a production experience that is unique in the world, the JamFactory. Poldaas sold his car, borrowed funds from his parents and scrounged $22,000 to enter the JamFactory’s intense two year associate training program. He reckons he received at least double that value in blowing time alone.

Feel Good by Jaan Poldass -photo credit: Jaan Poldass

‘Feel Good’ by Jaan Poldass -photo credit: Jaan Poldass

'Cerulean Trio' by Jaan Poldass -photo credit: Jann Poldass

‘Cerulean Trio’ by Jaan Poldass -photo credit: Jann Poldass

Associates develop a keen sense of business realities as they work collaboratively on JamFactory projects, products and commissions as well as alongside creative staff when developing their own work that may be selected for sale through JamFactory’s shops. For Poldaas, that opportunity came with his sleek Feel Good bowls which he continues to supply to JamFactory.

An inspiration and model for the next generation of Canadian glass artists was Jeff Goodman, who passed away last year at fifty-one years of youth. A preeminent and successful glassblower, his work exudes contemporary design based on a handcrafted tradition.

'Lima Vessels' by Jeff Goodman - photo credit: Jeff Goodman studio

‘Lima Vessels’ by Jeff Goodman – photo credit: Jeff Goodman studio

Goodman started at Sheridan College, went to Harbourfront Centre and on to the University of Illinois where he was named outstanding student of the year and received a Bachelor Fine Arts in 1986 after which he set up Jeff Goodman Studio in Toronto. His experience gave confidence to others to venture forth as well.

Goodman’s passing shocked the community. He was highly valued not only as an artist and designer but also as a mentor and a gentle, quiet and generous man. An exhibition of his work is on at the Ontario Crafts Council in Toronto.


David James is a Canadian sculptor in cast glass and stone, based in Sutton, Québec. Canada’s Ministry of Heritage has designated his works as having outstanding significance and national importance. They are exhibited in Europe and North America and are in corporate, private and museum collections. James has served on the board of the Glass Art Association of Canada.

David James http://www.davidjamesglass.com



Historical Account of the Development of Artistic Glassblowing in Quebec 1960 – 1986

February 15, 2013

by: Bruno Andrus

PhD Candidate in Art History
Part-time faculty, Department of Art History
Concordia University

 To read the FULL LENGTH TEXT with great images click here

This text proposes a synthesis of the research I conducted in the context of my Master’s Thesis in Art History.[1] It retraces the early history (1960-1986) of the artistic practice of glassblowing in Quebec by highlighting the first actors who played a major role in the development of art glass and a glass community in Quebec, as well as their influences. This general period begins, in 1960, with the opening of  Murano Glass, in Montreal, and ends with the opening of Espace Verre / Le Centre des métiers du verre du Québec in 1986. What interested me most are the persons, the events, the contexts of apprenticeships and networking, the studios, equipements, tools and the productions. I was driven by the desire to understand the genealogy of the first community of artistic glassblowers in Quebec, consisted of Sabatino de Rosa, Gilles Désaulniers, Toan Klein, Ronald Lukian, Ronald Labelle, Jean Vallières and François Houdé. These artisans and artists will be at the origin of the foundation of institutions and a very active community  of glassworkers in Quebec. We shall also see that the initiatives of Elena Lee, owner of the first glass art gallery in Canada, located in Montreal, of Jean Michel, director of the Quebec Craft Council (CMAQ) in the middle of 1970s, of Claude Morin, glassblower of French origin having given the first glassblowing workshop in Quebec in 1976, as well as Robert Held and Martin Demaine, Canadian glassblowing pioneers (from the USA), all contributed to the emergence of new cultural productions. More widely we shall see that in Quebec, the development of an artistic practice of glassblowing origins from two sources: the European tradition (Italian, Czech and French) and the American innovation (Studio Glass Movement).

Martin Demaine and François Houdé (front), 1979 Collection Ronald Lukian

Martin Demaine and François Houdé (front), 1979
Collection Ronald Lukian


[1] ANDRUS, Bruno. Le développement de la pratique artistique du verre soufflé au Québec. Thesis. Concordia University. 2010

Unless specified, the information used to construct this historical narrative was gathered through recorded oral testimony and interviews.


Histoire du développement de la pratique artistique du verre soufflé au Québec            1960 – 1986

Par: Bruno Andrus

Souffleur de verre
Doctorant en Histoire de l’art
Part-time faculty, Department of Art History
Concordia University

Pour lire LE TEXTE PLEINE LONGEUR avec de belles images, cliquez ici

Ce texte propose une synthèse du résultat des recherches que j’ai effectuées dans le cadre de mon mémoire de maîtrise en histoire de l’art, en présentant l’histoire du développement de la pratique artistique du verre soufflé au Québec pour la période 1960-1986. [1] Mon enquête met en lumière les premiers acteurs qui ont joué un rôle prépondérant dans l’essor du travail artistique du verre à chaud et leurs influences. Cette période générale s’étend depuis l’ouverture de la compagnie Murano Glass, à Montréal en 1960, jusqu’à l’ouverture de Espace Verre / Le Centre des métiers du verre du Québec en 1986. Ce qui m’a davantage intéressé sont les personnes, les événements, les contextes d’apprentissage et de réseautage, les ateliers et les productions, donc de comprendre la généalogie de la première communauté de souffleurs de verre au Québec composée de  Sabatino de Rosa, Gilles Désaulniers, Toan Klein, Ronald Lukian, Ronald Labelle, Jean Vallières et François Houdé.  Ces derniers ont été à l’origine de la fondation d’institutions et d’une communauté de verriers maintenant très actifs au Québec. Nous verrons aussi que certaines des actions de la part de Elena Lee, propriétaire de la première galerie de verre d’art au Canada, située à Montréal, de Jean Michel, directeur de Métiers d’art de Montréal au milieu des années 1970 et de Claude Morin, souffleur de verre d’origine française ayant donné le premier stage pratique de soufflage du verre au Québec en 1976, ainsi que de Robert Held, Martin Demaine, pionniers canadiens (d’origine étasunienne) du soufflage de verre,  ont contribué à l’apparition de biens culturels nouveaux. Plus largement, nous verrons qu’au Québec le développement d’une pratique artistique du verre soufflé origine de deux sources: la tradition Européenne (italienne, tchèque et française)  et l’innovation Américaine (Studio Glass Mouvement).

Martin Demaine et François Houdé (à l'avant), 1979 Collection Ronald Lukian

Martin Demaine et François Houdé (à l’avant), 1979
Collection Ronald Lukian


[1] ANDRUS, Bruno. Le développement de la pratique artistique du verre soufflé au Québec. Mémoire de maîtrise. Université Concordia. 2010

A moins d’indication contraire, l’information utilisée pour construire cette trame historique provient d’enquêtes orales dont le contenu est documenté.


Gord Webster Remembers Jeff Goodman

October 15, 2012

I worked for Jeff for about two years part-time and knew him as an advisor through Harbourfront Centre while I was there for three years.

One of my highlights at Harbourfront was when Jeff asked me to be in a show with him that was called Person to Person a Continuum in 2003.  Jeff was very inspiring to me and one of the first people in the glass world that really gave me hope to pursue glass as a business.  He proved to me that it could be done in Canada.  The way in which he worked with architectural glass and with his artistic practice was really amazing.  Jeff was really positive and this was probably the biggest thing that I learned from him.  He took on projects with no fear.  His youthful and energetic demeanor made me think he could do anything.

I’ve had a really hard time coming to terms with Jeff’s death because of this, I think. I still can’t believe he is gone. I’ve been busy raising two kids and starting our own hotshop; I didn’t even know Jeff had cancer. I wish I had told him at one point what an inspiration he was to me and that working for him was one of the highlights of my professional career. I’ll always remember Jeff when I get into a project and start thinking of everything that might go wrong and I often stop myself and think ‘Jeff would just do it’, stop thinking and do it.  He was a great mentor.

Compass Bowl – Jeff Goodman


Laura Donefer Remembers Jeff Goodman

By: Laura Donefer

What follows was prepared and presented by Laura Donefer at Jeff’s Celebration of Life service.

Once in awhile a golden comet of a human being sails through your orbit and dazzles you with their inner beauty and outer effervescence.  Jeff Goodman was that comet, a brilliant human being who left us too early, a man golden from deep within his core,  a fundamentally first-rate person who was decent and good through and through……..and someone who is leaving a giant hole in our community.

So we come together today to honour a man who has contributed greatly to our glass family, and to mourn his loss.  All of us here tonight can hold onto our unique personal memories of Jeff, and we will let his family know that he is someone who will always be in our hearts. Jeff Goodman will never be forgotten, he will be remembered as our wonderfully generous and eternally optimistic friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed and always loved.

In 1982 I showed up at Sheridan College and was gently persuaded by Dan Crichton to join the glass studio, as I had originally gone there for jewellery. I was older than a lot of the students there, and upon first meeting the second-years thought, “Why is there a teenager in this group?” Of course that was a very boyish Jeff, who rapidly became my role model even though he was the youngest student there. He literally glowed with youthful enthusiasm and energy, and it seemed at times like there was a whirling dervish zipping through our midst, always on the go: blowing GIANT glass, precociously running a craft business with his classmate Sheila Mahut, secretly dashing off to play golf or squash, always with multiple projects happening.  And he did not dress like a glass artist, so he stood out in his deck shoes and beige chino pants and button-down shirts while we all looked like hippies in our Birkenstocks and ripped colourful cotton wear.

But Jeff stood out in another way; he was always remarkably kind, always generous, continuously giving of himself and would always take the time to lend a hand to his friends. I don’t think that trait ever changed, only growing more powerful as he matured

Way back then, Jeff would let me  – a lowly first year – watch him blow glass and even help him and he could take more gathers than anyone around, which made my eyes pop out! Once, Jeff was making this huge piece about three feet long, and he had it on the punty and he was doing a last flash before boxing it, and low and behold one fat raindrop came through the holey roof of the old Quonset hut and landed precisely on the punty and SMASH, the whole piece came crashing down. I almost threw up I was so upset but Jeff, no, nothing phased him at all and he looked at me cowering in the corner and without batting an eye said “Laura, let’s make another one, that was fun!”  I give that as an example of how Jeff flowed through life:mfull of zeal, full of passion and letting nothing get in his way, and nothing phase him.  He was always up for a challenge.

Memories of Jeff abound, and it seems as if it was only yesterday we were at Harbourfront together in the glass studio. What comes to mind was his passion for the art of blowing glass, he did it like he was born with a blow pipe in his hand. So graceful, and also a bit crazy! Jeff might have dressed the part of the straight man, but he was just as zany as the rest of the glass artists. Time and time again I would be Jeff’s assistant on these ridiculously gargantuan platters that he would spin out and time and time again they never quite fit in the annealer, and it would become a frantic race grabbing fiber frax and molding it over the rim of the plate that would be sticking out. Once we were hanging out at the Harbourfront glass studio and there was a colossal  crack and we watched in horror as a large hunk of the lip exploded off of one of Jeff’s not-so-well-annealed plates and went sailing past his face to crash onto the floor. Again, I was cowering, my heart pounding thinking O-NO-O-NO, and Jeff did not bat an eye. He calmly got some colour ready to make another one. Like I said, nothing phased him, and I do believe I never heard one swear word come from his mouth, a true rarity in the hot shop environment.

Looking back, those were truly marvelous years; the unbridled thrill of learning to work with glass at Sheridan followed by our stint at Harbourfront, endeavouring to become more professional, learning the ropes of reality, so to speak. Blowing glass collectively  fused us all together in a way I cannot even explain; such a motley crew that became a family, bonded by the intense experience of growing up in the hot shop! Watching Jeff develop from a gifted yet fledgling 20-year-old to a tremendously respected established artist and designer was quite awe inspiring. He launched into life after Harbourfront as if from a springboard, creating a successful business as well as the most important relationship he would foster with his soul mate Mercedes.

Post Harbourfront I did not see Jeff as often as I would have liked to; we sometimes taught together, were on various committees, somehow even managed dinner now and again, but he was uber busy, as was I. Jeff’s number one priority had become his family. On one occasion he had an opening of his work at Elena Lee’s Gallery in Montreal, and Susan Edgerley and I were waiting for him to arrive from Toronto so we could take him out for dinner and finally have a quality visit. To our utter dismay Jeff stayed the requisite two hours at his vernissage and then jumped  into his car and drove the seven hours back to Toronto. He did not want to spend one night away from Mercedes. That to me illuminated who the essential Jeff was: a man dedicated to his art, but even more dedicated to his heart. He was devoted to his family, his career, his friends, his students, his colleagues.

And speaking from my heart and I am sure for all of you here tonight, we are all devoted to Jeff, our most gentle and caring friend, who lived his life with humour and enthusiasm and an uninhibited fervour for his people, his projects, his passions.  I know that Jeff would want us all to leave here and endeavor to live our lives as he lived his, full speed ahead, living every moment to the hilt, and letting nothing phase us.


Goodnight Jeff, we love you.


Elena Lee Remembers Jeff Goodman

How is it that the best and brightest have to go first.

We lost François Houdé and Daniel Crichton and now Jeff.

How shall we ever recover from such loss? Jeff was so full of life and energy. So many other artists looked up to him as a shining example. He was that rare artist who could maintain a thriving business and still not neglect his creative side.

We have known him for over 30 years, since his student days at Sheridan in 1981-1982. He was remarkable from the very first. Constantly challenging himself, he experimented with every technique that came his way. Explored it, then moved on.

Tribute Image – Elena Lee

Finally he settled on two very different avenues. One was his architectural glass, executed in the cast glass tradition, the other his free form blown glass. While his architectural work gained him praise and recognition, for us as his gallery, it was his soaring glass bodies that made us aware that we were dealing with an outstanding artist.

In his early years he had created sensuous bowls, beautiful flat vessels with graphic designs big ziggurat forms blown into wooden molds, that brought the fire department to his studio. But in the end all that fell away and he concentrated on the essential: pure form.

It is the sign of the mature artist that he can do more with less.  His sensuous, soaring shapes are of one colour only, no decor.  Their twists and turns impossible to achieve with tools rather it was the artist’s extraordinary control of the molten mass that allowed him to gently modulate these huge forms. They resemble nothing so much as bodies: a couple leaning towards each other, a long necked bird. They are frozen motion, beautifully balanced, serene.


For Jeff

By: David Williamson

To be honest, I didn’t want to write this article. I regretted saying yes almost as soon as I told Steve [Tippin] that I would, because it means returning to a sorrow I had just begun to leave behind. However, Jeff has given me so much over the years, things both tangible and intangible, so how could I not?

It’s hard to know where to start and where to end, but I will do my best to do justice to those who know and love Jeff and for those who will never meet him, but know him through the impact he has had on Canadian glass.

Geoffrey James Goodman spent his early years in British Columbia and Toronto; he attended Sheridan College and Alfred University, ultimately earning his BFA at The University of Illinois. After a residency at Harbourfront Centre, he opened his first hot shop in Toronto. Even with this commitment, he still found time to serve as an advisor to the Harbourfront Glass Studio, to teach at Sheridan College, and to act as a board member for both the Ontario Crafts Council and the Glass Art Association of Canada.

In 2009, Jeff was diagnosed with cancer; he died peacefully with his family in March 2012. Jeff handled his illness with grace and dignity never letting it affect his responsibilities and relationships (instead he used it as an excuse to play more golf during work hours than ever before).

Over the five years I spent working for Jeff, we spent a lot of time together. Mostly we focused on work—problem-solving, planning, and updating each other on new techniques or tools we could possibly incorporate into our projects. We also chatted about things that friends chat about, like movies, music (he loved any type of jazz), what we did on the weekend, stuff like that. But it was when we were blowing glass together that the purest communication happened. The relationship of a glassblower and assistant is one of action on the part of the gaffer and anticipation on the part of the assistant.

The more I got to work with Jeff in the hot shop, the better I became at anticipating his actions and responding to his unspoken directions, at judging his moods and temperament. Our sounds were the gentle roar of the furnace and glory hole, the clink of a tool being set down, a blast of compressed air, or the whirl of a fan. Our smells were swiftly melting wax, burnt newspaper, or a smoldering shoe if I lost my focus. No competition; just action and appropriate reaction. Since his passing, I’ve come to realize how lucky I am to have spent that sort of time with him. Jeff’s presence was always felt, but it was in those moments that his focus and drive were so apparent, his peace in the sport of blowing glass so enviable. Truly he was experiencing something that people from all walks of life strive for—a perfect harmony of mind, body and soul. Jeff’s power was subtle yet instant, and I didn’t fully understand it until those moments.

Jeff Goodman blowing glass

Jeff had a unique understanding of his work and what it meant to be successful in the world of glass—over time shifting from functional production work to high-end blown glass and one-of-a-kind installations.

Seeing himself as a craftsman more than an artist, his love of glass came from the sport and physical skill required to work the material. His comfort and ease can be seen in all his blown work, which rely heavily on an understanding of the forces that affect glass like gravity, heat, and centrifugal force. Looking at the sandcast glass panels that fill homes and public spaces, it’s easy to see that his understanding of pattern and 2D space was just as strong. He was fond of ceramics, particularly the Raku technique, and he never limited himself to projects that consisted solely of glass.

He loved artists who worked with wood and nature like Chris Drury and printmakers like Antoni Tápies or Cy Twombly, whose influence can be seen in Jeff`s Scribe pieces.  His career also included working with other creative people such as architects, designers and craftspeople. He had a knack for attracting the best, and then getting the best out of them. Past employees have gone on to found studios of their own and are now important members of the Canadian glass community.

His biggest project came in 2005 when he was commissioned by Hariri Pontarini Architects of Toronto to produce 44,000 sq ft of cast glass for the exterior of the Bahá’í Mother Temple in Santiago, Chile. Though he did not live to see its completion, the project broadened the idea of what is actually possible for a small studio to undertake, and he should be admired for the guts he had to say yes to that project.

I have heard it said that Jeff had many families. His wonderful wife and children, brother and sister and their children and spouses, childhood cohorts, schoolmates, tennis, squash and golf buddies, and those he worked with, just to name a few. I belong in the last category, but no matter what ‘family’ you come from, I know that you felt loved and respected by Jeff. I know that he made you feel powerful in your own way and confident to be the best version of yourself. Jeff’s strength and self-understanding seemed to touch each individual that met him, making everyone around him a little bit better.

As a catalyst for growth in the glass community, for creativity, for sheer genuine humanity, Jeff was simply a wonderful person, and, although his loss is felt most strongly by those who knew him, we cannot imagine the impact he has had on the future of Canadian glass. I feel blessed to have worked beside him and will carry his influence with me for the rest of my life.

Pour Jeff

Par : David Williamson

Franchement, je ne souhaitais pas écrire cet article. Quand Steve (Tippin) me l’a demandé, j’ai regretté  tout de suite de lui avoir dit oui, car ça voulait dire revenir sur une douleur qui commençait à peine à s’éloigner. Mais Jeff m’a tellement donné durant toutes ces années, tant de façon tangible qu’intangible, qu’il m’était impossible de refuser.

Difficile de savoir par où commencer et comment finir.  Je vais tenter de faire de mon mieux pour satisfaire ceux qui ont connu et aimé Jeff, ainsi que ceux qui ne le rencontreront jamais mais qui l’ont connu au travers de son impact sur le verre canadien.

Geoffrey James Goodman a débuté en Colombie Britannique ainsi qu’à Toronto. Inscrit d’abord au  Collège Sheridan puis à  Alfred , il obtient par la suite son baccalauréat de l’Université de l’ Illinois. Après une résidence au centre Harbourfront , il ouvrit son premier atelier à Toronto. Malgré cet engagement, il parvenait toujours à trouver du temps pour être  conseiller auprès des verriers en résidence à  Harbourfront, enseigner au Collège Sheridan et être membre des conseils d’administration du Conseil des métiers d’art de l’Ontario et de L’association canadienne du verre d’art .

Atteint par le cancer en 2009, Jeff décéda paisiblement au sein de sa famille en mars 2012. Faisant face avec grâce et dignité, Jeff n’a jamais laissé sa maladie prendre le dessus sur ses responsabilités et ses relations (bien au contraire, il en profitait pour pouvoir jouer encore plus au golf pendant ses heures de travail qu’avant).

Les cinq années passées à travailler en sa compagnie  nous ont permis de passer beaucoup de temps ensemble. La plupart du temps, nous nous concentrions sur le travail,  résoudre des problèmes, planifier et se tenir informé des nouvelles techniques et des outils que nous pouvions incorporer dans nos projets. Nous discutions aussi de choses et d’autres dont les amis parlent : de cinéma, de musique (il adorait beaucoup le jazz), de nos activités du weekend, ce genre de choses. Mais c’est en soufflant le verre ensemble que nous parvenions à la communication la plus pure entre nous. La relation entre le souffleur de verre et son assistant se caractérise par l’action du souffleur et l’anticipation de son assistant.

Plus je travaillais à l’atelier avec Jeff, et plus j’arrivais à anticiper ses actes et à répondre à ses directions muettes, en fonction de  ses humeurs et de son tempérament. Nos bruits étaient le ronronnement doux de l’arche et du four de fusion, le tintement d’un outil que l’on repose, le souffle de l’air comprimé ou la spirale d’un ventilateur. Nos odeurs étaient celles de la cire qui fond doucement, du papier journal brulé ou d’une chaussure fumante lorsque je me déconcentrais. Pas de concurrence, juste de l’action et la réaction appropriée. Depuis sa mort, je me suis rendu compte à quel point j’avais eu de la chance d’avoir pu passer ces moments avec lui. La présence de Jeff était toujours intense, mais c’est dans ces moments-là que sa concentration et son dynamisme étaient au plus fort, rendant sa force tranquille en soufflage des plus enviables. Clairement, il parvenait à ressentir vraiment ce à quoi beaucoup de gens de tous horizons aspirent – une harmonie parfaite entre la pensée, le corps et l’esprit. Le pouvoir de Jeff était subtile mais instantané et je ne l’avais jamais vraiment ressentit jusqu’à dans ces moments-là.

L’approche de Jeff dans son travail et son avis sur la réussite dans le monde du verre  était unique. Passant avec le temps de la production fonctionnelle au soufflage de verre de haut niveau et à la confection d’installations incomparables.

Se considérant artisan plutôt qu’artiste, son amour pour le verre provenait du sport et de l’effort physique nécessaires pour travailler ce matériau. Toutes ses œuvres soufflées nous montrent à quel point il maitrisait les forces qui influent sur le verre comme la gravité, la chaleur et la force centrifuge. En voyant les panneaux de verre dépolis qui remplissent les maisons et les espaces publiques, on se rend compte aisément que sa compréhension des motifs et de l’espace en 2D était tout aussi solide. Il aimait la céramique, en particulier la technique de Raku et ne se limitait pas seulement à des projets spécifiques au verre.

Il adorait les artistes travaillant avec le bois et la nature comme Chris Drury et les sérigraphes tels qu’Antoni Tápies et Cy Twombly dont on retrouve l’influence dans les œuvres Scribe de Jeff. Au cours de sa carrière, Il a aussi travaillé avec d’autres personnes créatives comme des architectes, des designers et des artisans. Il avait le don d’attirer les meilleurs et d’en sortir le meilleur d’eux-mêmes. Certains de ses précédents employés sont partis par la suite fonder leur propre atelier et sont à présent membres eux aussi de la communauté verrière canadienne.

Son plus grand projet date de 2005 lorsqu’il fut choisi par les Architectes Hariri Pontarini de Toronto pour produire 44,000 pieds2 de pâte de verre pour l’extérieur du Temple Mère de Bahá’í à Santiago au Chili. Bien qu’il ne vit pas son œuvre achevée, le projet ouvre l’esprit sur ce qu’il est réellement possible d’entreprendre au sein d’un petit atelier et il est admirable d’avoir eu le cran d’accepter un tel projet.

J’ai entendu dire que Jeff avait de nombreuses familles. Sa merveilleuse femme et ses enfants, ses frères et sœurs avec enfants et époux, ses amis d’enfance et d’études, ses copains de tennis, golf et squash, et ceux avec qui il travaillait, pour n’en citer que quelques-unes. J’appartiens à la dernière catégorie, mais qu’importe la famille à laquelle on appartenait, on se sentait apprécié et respecté de Jeff.  Il nous donnait de quoi se sentir sûr de nous à notre façon et prendre confiance en soi.  En rencontrant Jeff, on se sentait touché par sa force et sa compréhension des choses et chacun autour de lui  se sentait un petit peu mieux.

Son côté humain et sa créativité ont fait de lui un mentor pour l’expansion de la communauté du verre.  Jeff était tout simplement une personne merveilleuse et même si ceux qui l’ont connu ressentent plus profondément encore sa perte, il est difficile d’imaginer l’impact qu’il a eu sur le futur du verre canadien. Je me sens privilégié d’avoir pu travailler à ses côtés et je porterai son influence en moi toute ma vie.