There’s a place near Seattle, half way round the world from our rainy little island, that’s synonymous with glass art: Pilchuck Glass School.
Every year Pilchuck serves as melting pot (pun intended) for glass art enthusiasts worldwide. The school offers summer intensive classes from May through to September and several artist residencies throughout the rest of the year.
A trip to Pilchuck is a truly unique experience where you learn far more than the syllabus of your chosen class; It is an unequalled opportunity to make international connections and see in one place the vast diversity and scope of the international glass art practice. Once you have an open mind and a desire to learn, you are never to old or too inexperienced to enjoy a trip to Pilchuck.
Money. We all wish we had more of it, I won’t lie Pilchuck course fees are expensive and travelling from Ireland will cost the guts of a grand for flights. There are however a range of options to help with the costs including scholarships, campus internships and teaching/artist assistant positions.
Almost one third of Pilchuck students receive some kind of financial assistance through scholarship programmes. Some are full scholarships, covering tuition, accommodation and travel to Pilchuck. Half scholarships, which are more numerous, cover half the cost of tuition and accommodation but do not cover the cost of travel. Those with studio experience in glass can also apply to work as Artist or Teaching Assistants: TAs and AA’s receive accommodation, meals and covered or subsidised travel to the Pilchuck campus.
|The iconic hotshop|
All staff on campus, from the ones who clean the bathrooms to those who process the paperwork, are practising artists. Artsits can apply to work in a range of positions (kitchen staff, maintenance staff etc…) for two or more of the summer sessions. Staff get accommodation, meals, a small subsidy and some time to do some personal work between sessions. Mainly though, working as seasonal staff is a great opportunity to meet and connect with the visiting artists and students, make some great friends and have some great experiences. As it is not a paid position, Irish applicants can go on a travel visa (avoiding the great expense of an american work visa).
Two NCAD glass students went to Pilchuck in summer 2013. I asked them for a few words on their experience:
‘Gwyn Grace went to Pilchuck Glass School in August 2012 on a Partner half-scholarship through NCAD having just finished 3rd year. Her course was lost-wax kiln-casting ‘Shape into form’ with Joel Hurlbert and Karin Tornell – glass artists working in Stockholm, Sweden. There were 9 on the course, a mix of students and established artists and teachers. Kiln casting is a long process so time for finishing and cold-working was short as most of the pieces were only ready a few days before the end however most of us were able to take our work with us to complete once we’d returned home. All the class worked long hours, often well after midnight preparing for a kilnfiring but we had lots of fun as well. The pace of the kiln-casting class gave us lots of opportunity to see demonstrations happening in other classes and meet the rest of students. She summed up here experience with a toast: “ Here’s to fond memories, future plans and heart-felt thanks to everyone’s generosity of spirit!”’
|Looking at the casts with the class|
Jesse Gunther travelled to Pilchuck on a scholarship after finishing his BA in Glass in NCAD, summer 2013. Jesse proves that you never know what a trip to Pilchuck might bring. Here’s what he had to say about it:
‘For starters it was an amazing experience! I took Tom Rowney’s class; ‘Cups with Cane’ and focused on making different styles of cane, ranging from straight to very intricate twisty cane. After that we learnt how to turn these canes into straight cups and footed vessels. In the last week we started using the garage to make more complex goblets. Our entire class were all newcomers to Pilchuck, and the skill level was very even throughout the class, which made for a great experience for everyone.
|Tom Rowney’s cane seahorses|
I got really lucky after Pilchuck; I had a while before my return flight and I got to help out Jeff Ballard in the Tacoma Museum for two days where he was Artist in Residence, that was a great experience! Then two days later I also got to work one day for Martin Blank in his studio who was just preparing for a big exhibition, amazing stuff..’
|Some of Jesse’s work from the class|
Deadlines for scholarship/assistant/staff applications are coming up in FEBRUARY. See their website for more details and remember guys, if you do go, the GSoI wants to here all about it!!