March 30, 2009

Major Commission Awarded via Student Contest

via design observer -

Article in the Washington Post called 'Students' Crowning Glory - Two Catholic University Freshmen Win Contest to Adorn D.C. Basilica's Dome'.

It seems to me that with a 100 foot mosaic dome plus 36 stained glass windows, it's a pretty massive commission to entrust to a University student competition. Committees and student contests? Am I missing part of the story? Is this more like a sideline student contest where the winner was never intended to be the final design? The text does state that "Although the basilica is free to change their proposal or commission another one, the contest represents the first step toward completing the church's largest dome". What does that mean? I guess it's the headline that makes it seem like these students have gotten the commission.

The First Place design is at least the best of the group shown in the picture gallery -
from the Photo Gallery

A nice, if conventional, design.

The Second Place design looks like a student design, especially on closer examination. There's a rushed, slapdash quality about it, perhaps not surprising considering the time pressure.
from the Photo Gallery


Notice the figures along the arch. This is pure cut and paste photoshop work. Is the intention really to make them all rubber-stamp identical? Or are we supposed to assume there will be some differentiation if this were the final design.

Now look at the figure on the right. It's the mosaic design of Jesus from the Hagia Sofia just sort of arbitrarily stuck in. Somehow I don't see this as any kind of conscious and sophisticated postmodern mashup (though I grant that it could be seen as an unconsciously sophisticated postmodern mashup). I suspect it was just quicker and easier to grab an old mosaic Jesus and pop it in there.

Hagia Sophia mosaic Jesus

Maybe these are meant as rough, general sketches that will be fleshed out later. Or maybe the article is making more of the contest than it was intended to be. In any case, it seems an odd way to design the artwork for a major building project, and an odd way to promote the design process. Let's hope there is more to the story.

Posted by Tom at 10:38 PM

March 28, 2009

In a Dream Trailer

Isaiah Zagar is a mosaic muralist who also does bottle walls, and is best known for the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia, PA. This is a trailer for the upcoming documentary about Zagar by his son, Jeremiah. It looks to be a highly personal view and I suspect it might be pretty intense. It's already won several festival awards and advanced word is strong.

IN A DREAM: Theatrical Trailer from Herzliya Films on Vimeo.
Also check out the In a Dream website for further info, including schedule dates. NYC release date is April 10th.

Posted by Tom at 05:17 PM

March 24, 2009

CraftBoston 2009

CraftBoston Spring 2009, is happening this coming weekend, March 27-29, 2009. This event continues to feature more flat glass artists than your average high quality craft show. There are, on quick glance, at least 3 that could be called stained glass artists, and another 2-3 fused glass artists - and it's all good stuff...

Daniel Maher, Stained Glass
I'm appearing with Dan this summer at the 2009 American Glass Guild Summer Conference, in a talk about our different uses of screenprinting/photosandblasting.
One of Dan's photosandblast pieces - amazing stuff...
Trinity Portrait

Kate Gakenheimer, Stained Glass - as always, love the pattern work.
Rachel's Yuzenzome

Karen Hibbs and Peter Burton - Stained Glass
In The beginning

Alice Gebhart, Fused glass
I like the sketchiness of her work, especially as translated into fused glass.
Trilogy 3

Best wishes to all and good sales in a tough economy!!

Posted by Tom at 07:18 AM

March 22, 2009

Vitreosity on Twitter

I have to admit that so far I don't quite 'get' Twitter. Still, I realize it's a force to be reckoned with right now on the web, so I've started a twitter feed for Vitreosity. I admit that, as of today, I have no idea where this will lead or quite what to do with it. At the very least I will likely use it to announce new blog posts, especially larger ones.

Posted by Tom at 06:30 PM

March 12, 2009

Stained Glass at the City Museum

The most unique cultural institution in St. Louis is without doubt the City Museum. It is not so much a museum as it is a playground that happens to be a work of art, as well as a place for a collection of lots of stuff. It has, among other things, its own aquarium, its own circus troupe, a second hand clothing store, a glass blowing studio, a "museum of mystery, mirth and mayhem', tons of caves to climb through and a jungle gym set like no other, called 'MonstroCity'.

Photo of MonstroCity from flickrite 'mesjak'

Kids and artists love it. Parents do too, even with the slight air of danger. A friend of mine called it a 'parental anxiety machine'. I've never seen the same expression of wild unfettered creativity expressed in any public venue before. It is to St. Louis' credit that they simply let this thing happen.

There is also stained glass, in one form or another, peppered throughout. I've posted a City Museum stained glass flickrset on my flickr account - City Museum, St. Louis - Stained Glass Plus. I'll continue to add more as I take more pictures in the future.

In the meantime, I have a brief overview of what's at the City Museum, mostly in terms of the stained glass, below the fold...

[update Sept. 26, 2011 - Sad to hear of the death of Bob Cassilly, the founder and creative driving force behind the City Museum. Deepest condolences to his family, friends and co-workers. Let's hope the City Museum can continue to thrive for many years as a testiment to his vision.]


The first thing you see are the mosaics.

This video is a much better intro to the mosaics than anything I can come up with, and it also gives a good general intro to the atmosphere of the City Museum.
From "Living St. Louis", a local PBS TV series -
about the creator of the mosaics - "Sharon Von Senden - Mosaics" (7:19)

Architecture Hall

These images are located in the Architectural Artifacts section of the City Museum. This is one of my favorite sections of the museum though not so popular, probably because this is the one area that is more museum and less playground.

They have some 10-12 stained glass windows within this area, though most of the Hall is filled with decorative stonework.

Landscape Window

This landscape window is probably my favorite of the stained glass pieces.



I suspect that this might be a mausoleum window, especially after I came across this image of this stained glass in Flushing Cemetary.

These next two images are from the Flickr set by Dimberly



Aquarium Patchwork Window

There are about 4 or 5 stained glass windows in the aquarium. This patchwork window is the largest. I believe some of the glass in this was made at the on site glass blowing studio. Note that it is in a real aquarium. This window is right by the 'sting ray viewing platform'. There is an alligator only about 30 feet away.





Bowl Wall

This is a wall sectioning an area where they have birthday parties and the like. It is in the same room as a vast playground, kind of an indoor skate park without skaters. I think it was considered too dangerous to let actual skaters loose on this. Kids go wild in here. Seriously.





Clear Bottle Wall

This is one of two clear bottle walls in the museum, near one of the exits leading to MonstroCity. Thee bottle are glued together with clear silcone caulk.




from rsun78 flickr page

Big Clear Bottle Wall

This bottle wall is similar the the 'small bottle' bottle wall, only with large bottles. I've never seen large, clear, thin-neck bottles like this and I'm not sure what they would have been used for. It's located on the fourth floor, where there is a small knick knack shop and a large warehouse sized room with a shop selling vintage clothing.




Oh, did I mention the room filled with old opera posters. That's a favorite of mine too, but it will have to wait for another time...

For more images, I suggest a Flickr search for City Museum, St. Louis. There are thousands and thousands of City Museum images.

There are also some interesting interactive panoramic images of the City Museum, through a thing called Gigapan. Not unlike Zoomify, but with extreme wide angle images.

Posted by Tom at 07:14 AM

March 11, 2009

VitreosityPictures on Flickr

I finally got a Flickr account to compliment this blog. The account is under the name VitreosityPictures. As of today, I've uploaded 154 pictures [250 a week later], mostly older photos from posts where I had too many pictures to choose from, like these photos of the First Church of Christ Scientist, which I was unable to put include in my post on the SGAA Boston 2004 Conference.


Posted by Tom at 07:13 AM

March 09, 2009

Blenko Resumes Partial Operation

From the Huntington Herald Dispatch - Blenko Resumes Partial Operation

We'll see how this plays out. There is still no mention of whether or not they go into bankruptcy, or whether they have an investor. Also no mention of what operations are being revived, stating only that the furnaces are getting started up again.

Also found this article from last September, Blenko's executive leadership shaken up, which is interesting in light of the recent events.

Posted by Tom at 11:53 PM

March 08, 2009

Cosmovitral, Toluca

Another instance of finding out about a big contemporary work of stained glass from internet sources like YouTube and Flickr, and not from traditional media like magazines or newspapers.

The filmmaking is pure shaky, blurry touristy stuff. What comes across is that this is a big, big commission, some 3,000 square meters of glass... and I'd never heard of it before.

I came across this YouTube video just a few days ago -
Turns out it's the Cosmovitral, in Toluca, just west of Mexico City, Mexico (wikipedia entry for Cosmovitral).

As usual, the next stop was Flickr and as usual I found lots of images, including this of the Sun Man...

All subsequent photos are courtesy of Lucy Nieto's Cosmovitral Flickrset. Not much commentary (busy times), but another video (in spanish) and lots of 'lucy nieto' photos below the fold...

longer video with Spanish commentary

First observation - lots of abstracted birds
and some birds meld in with figures
and then become more and more figures
and more figures
and closer
and close-up of feet
and figures swirling in a vortex
and a closeup of the hands

and long again
and just a little closer
and again
and there are nice shots of the framing metalwork
and this or the sun man area
and this
and finally, photos of the central image the sun man - from longest
and just place long
and closer

Posted by Tom at 10:53 AM

March 06, 2009

Stained Glass Google Maps updated

I've begun to add a few more sites to the St. Louis Stained Glass Google Map.
I hope to add 1 or 2 locations a month, with full detailed info.
Again, this is considered to be 'in process', and suggestions or corrections welcome.

I've also started a Bottle House Google Map, based on the bottle houses/walls I've covered in this blog.

The Bottle House Map is rougher, with many having only a general sense of the location and no info on logistics, seeing that I haven't personally been to any of these sites. In that vain, it's also a little depressing to view this in the form of a map, in that it shows just how spread out and inaccessible many of the bottle house locations are. I do intend to eventually add links and selected pictures to the Bottle House Google map.

I've got other ideas for SG related Google maps, like doing a given map for the work of one artist (like to do a John LaFarge sites map), or perhaps one style in one city, making for a single manageable tour. As time allows...

Posted by Tom at 07:10 AM