While we're killing time, waiting to do our studio build out - I figured I would take the time to tell you about my journey from learning, to teaching Glassblowing. Since that is what we will be doing at the new studio.
In my last post I talked about my introduction to glass. My formal education began a few years later . In the summer of 1997, I moved to New Orleans to attend college and left my mom's hot head torch behind. I brought with me the desire to work with glass. In my freshman year, I found the New Orleans School of Glassworks and Printmaking Studio (or "Glassworks") in the Art's District. The studio is an important part of New Orleans contemporary glass history; many great artists and teachers have passed through this studio. It is also the largest non-profit glass center in the South and they provide furnace rentals to local glass artists. It is also an important part of my story.
When I moved to New Orleans, at the age of 18, I immediately enrolled myself in furnace glassblowing classes at Glassworks. I began my formal glass education there, studying with various local glass artists. When I arrived there I noticed that, in the back, they had a big banner saying "Beadmaking"and there was a large table where they had 8 of the same "hot head" torches I had originally learned on. They didn't have a bead-making teacher and I knew I could do that from what I had learned from my mom and from experimenting. This began my 10+ year journey at the New Orleans School of Glassworks as student and teacher.
I studied bead making by practicing and from a few available glass books and videos in the Glassworks library. There were also a couple online forums like the Melting Pot and Lampwork etc. and Glassartists.org. But this was early internet; we're talking dial up modems and AOL.
Over this time I learned how to work with a range of ages and different sized groups of up to 80 school kids. As you can see in the picture, above, we had kids and tour groups by the bus load. We had standard demos and talked to the crowd using a lapel mic. My specialty was the "5-minute make-a-bead experience" that they sold to the tour groups for $5 each.
My favorite time of year was Glass Camp! Every summer the studio held a camp for 10-15 year olds. After 15 they became Junior Assistants and then paid Teachers Assistants. I was there for 8 years. I am still friends with some of the kids the I met over the 8 years I was a camp instructor.
I also met artist Andrew Brott early on, at Glassworks. He ran my first year working at Glass Camp. I went on to be his assistant and we worked on many large scale projects together. I will do a post on Andrew in an upcoming "Artist Spotlight" series I am working on. In the meantime, you can visit his website at www.brottworks.com
In 2002 the Glass Arts Society held their annual conference in New Orleans. While Glassworks was not involved, I was. I helped arrange a pre-conference workshop with Lucio Bubacco, an Italian master and one of my maestros. It was my third time working with Lucio and I even ended up with a couple of his pieces.
Glassworks was the first of a number of non profits I have worked with. I learned how to secure donations for my classes. Over the time I was there I had the whole department upgraded for mostly free. I had all the torches that I taught with donated to the studio from Jean at Nortel Torches. As well as, many pounds of clear and colored glass rod and tubing donated from various sources. They now have a dedicated Lampworking kiln, different torches, and a lathe.
During my tenure at Glassworks I feel I transformed the under-utilized "Beadmaking Department to a real "Lamp- or Torch-working Department". To me that was a step up for them and a mark left behind. 10+ years was long enough at this one studio. I gained all I could from that place before hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and I had to temporarily relocated to Atlanta, GA. I moved back to New Orleans in 2006, and formed Andrew Jackson Pollack Designs.