Nationally-known glassblower at The Toledo Museum of Art

Published: Nov. 9, 2018 at 4:13 PM EST
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There are so many reasons we are all proud to call Toledo home, and the Toledo Museum of Art is certainly one of them.

The museum has an incredible collection, and it includes a lot more than paintings and sculptures. There's also a lot of glass artwork. The museum is home to a glass blowing studio too, and a nationally-known artist is in residency there for the next week.

While we all know Toledo as The Glass City, you might not know that the American studio glass movement started at the museum in 1962. The movement helped move glass from industrial space into the art world. Dominick Labino was a scientist, inventor and artist who lived and worked in northwest Ohio. He was one of the founders of the studio glass movement. Many of his pieces are still a big part of the collection at the museum today.

Decades later those early glassblowing workshops here in Toledo are still important to artists all over the world. Alan Iwamura is the Glass Studio Manager at the museum, "I consider the studio glass movement to be an event that affected my creative career. Here I am decades removed from those original workshops, and yet it still affects my artistic practice as well as many others both nationally and internationally to this day."

One of those artists is Leo Tecosky. He was first introduced to glassblowing in art school, "I make my living as a glass blower in Brooklyn. I am a fabricator for artists and designers.I do custom sculpture, interior lighting basically anything you can think of with glass."

Leo is at the museum for the next week as part of the Guest Artist Pavilion Project. Alan says it's an important program for the museum and the artists,"It's an opportunity for them to come into the studio and work with a team, be inspired by our collection, by the history of the museum and the city. It also allows them to work toward new ideas."

So just how does glass become artwork? "Molten silica is melted at 2,400 degrees and then gathered out of the furnace with metal tools, pipes and irons. It's then manipulated using gravity, heat ,centrifugal force and forced air. We use color pallets the same as a painter might, but we're coupling that with a material that is 3D when it is blown and in many times it's transparent. There are a lot of factors in the making process."

Alan says it's an art form that takes a lot of tenacity,education and patience, "We're always learning something new with the process and the material and if things don't hit the ground sometimes, perhaps you're getting a little too comfortable." A beautiful art form that was born right here in The Glass City.