Planting Seeds in Tacoma

It has been a few very exciting days for the team at Squam River Studios. Shandra and I arrived in Seattle on Saturday and spent a few hours exploring that city and then we made our way over to Tacoma. Tacoma is home to some pretty remarkable sights, not the least of which is the Museum of Glass, our final destination. For those not familiar with this museum, a little background information. The Museum of Glass is a stunning building with 75,000 square feet in area, featuring 13,000 square feet in gallery space and an 7,000-square-foot hot shop. It is a house of creativity, education, a cradle for burgeoning glass artists and a haven for established artists. It wouldn’t be a reach to say that it is one of the leading institutions representing studio glass in the world.

SRS’s curriculum, Engineering the Glass Seed brought us to Tacoma and MOG. We have embarked on the third and final leg of our project, funded by the Swedish-American Exchange Fund Grant and we are feeling very privileged to teach the course in this inspiring place. We were really excited to meet up with our former intern, Hannah Smith, recently returned from a stint as the printshop coordinator at Pilchuck Glass School. Hannah is assisting Shandra and myself with the program and as usual, she has been a godsend.

Generally the curriculum is a 5-day course but due to time constraints we are packing a lot into a 3 day presentation. Today, we met our students and they were a really great group of 23 teens from two schools; Tacoma Science and Math Institute (also known as SAMi) and Tacoma School of the Arts. We spent the first hour or so discussing the project, sharing our presentation and watching videos in the auditorium. After, we moved into the educational room in the building and began the hands-on aspect of the program.

One of the primary facets of Shandra’s curriculum is asking kids to think about a scenario – if you could design a seed and it could do anything at all, what would be the purpose of that seed and what would it look like. It was interesting to watch the kids work through the ideas presented and come up with their own take on it. The students were given clay, clay tools and foam and asked to create their seed as a clay model. Shandra spent a lot of time with the kids, talking with them about design and most importantly, about the fundamentals that have to considered when designing with glass as a medium. Once all the clay models were made, the kids, working in groups of three, learned how to mix plaster and poured into the form that we had prepared prior to their arrival, in order to make plaster molds for their designs.

When our team left MOG’s classroom today, we had 23 clay seeds encased in a whole lot of plaster. Tomorrow sees Shandra and the kids opening the molds, cleaning out clay and spending time learning about and discussing working with glass frit, kiln temperatures and tinting, to name a few key concepts.

We are so grateful to MOG for hosting this program and helping to facilitate. It’s been a truly enjoyable experience so far. Stop by tomorrow and see how we are all progressing.

Until next time,
Creative Director



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