March 2024 Sandwich Glass Museum's News

March 2024 Sandwich Glass Museum's News

Welcome to the New SGM Blog and Extended News!

March is International Women’s Month, and at the Museum, we are proud to shine a spotlight on the invaluable contributions of women, both historically and in the present day, to our museum and the glass industry at large.

The Spring 2011 Acorn feature, titled The Role of Women in the Sandwich Glass delved into the significant roles and contributions of women in the glass industry.   This insightful piece offers a glimpse into the lives and impact of women who helped shape the history of glassmaking in Sandwich and beyond.

"Glass cutting could be done by women. No women in this country have yet engaged in it. It is not very neat work, as the wet sand will of course get over the clothes. The number of straps and wheels is very numerous, and if any women desire to engage in it, we would advise them to lay aside hoops and don the Bloomer costume. (Hollister, 1975, p.9)" 


Women in Glass Today!   

Please meet Kate Thomas our SGM's  Weekend Glassblower

Kate Glassblower

Kate Thomas At the age of twelve, Kate had her first encounter with glass in Shelburne Falls, MA, while witnessing a demonstration at Josh Simpson Glass. Despite having always been an artist, it was a paperweight class in Boston in 2012 that ignited Kate's true love for working with glass.

Throughout her career, she pursued her passion at the Rhode Island School of Design and gained valuable experience.  Currently, Kate dedicates her weekends to working at the Sandwich Glass Museum. She possesses a unique ability to captivate museum guests, seamlessly blending humor and teaching to engage and enlighten visitors about the art of glass.  

Kate has always dreamed of opening her own studio to share her love of glass with everyone. She looked to create an escape from the hardship of day to day life, where people can come to find their own happiness and remember the important parts of being human. It doesn't have to be perfect, and neither do the pieces. 

In fact, Kate celebrates the differences in every piece she makes: the Human Factor. The name, Serenade Glass Studio, was inspired by the book "Elena's Serenade" by Campbell Geeslin, illustrated by Ana Juan. Kate found this book at a time in her glass career when the skill was proving to be too hard, too dangerous, too unfeasible. But Kate found inspiration in Elena's story, in seeing how this little girl did everything she could to get into the hot shop and learn the trade. Elena breathed true life into her pieces, which is something Serenade Glass Studio strives to do with every creation we make!

 For Their Love of Glass.  Meet the Women Within  


As March draws to a close, we invite you to savor the final moments of our breathtaking "For the Love of Glass" Special Exhibit, concluding at the end of this month.

Step into a world of artistic wonder crafted by the hands of Shelly Muzylowski Allen, Kait Rhoads, Sonja Blomdahl, Nancy Callan, and Cappy Thompson.

Cappy Thompson is an American artist who works in the medium of glass. The basis of her reverse glass painting technique is Grisaille, which has been used on stained glass since the Middle Ages. She lives and works in Seattle, Washington and has a residence in Olympia. She has been an artist in residence at Pilchuck Glass School and is a recipient of the school's Libensky award.

“Early in my career I was drawn to the images, symbols and painting of the medieval period—but not just the Christian tradition of Western Europe.  I loved the content of Hindu, Pagan, Judaic, Buddhist and Islamic painting as well. 

 These were images created before the invention of “art” as we know it—before painters controlled the content of their work.  These were works decreed by religious and political authorities to depict the magnificence and beauty of the natural and divine order.”- Cappy Thompson

Kait Rhoads is an American glass artist famous for using traditional Italian techniques as a base to create public art, sculpture, vessels and jewelry. The aquatic realm is the root of much of her work, the result of spending six years on a boat in the Caribbean in her youth. Since moving to the Northwest over two decades ago, her fascination extended from coral colonies to kelp forests. Aquatic life infuses her sculptures with animated forms, sparkling surfaces and faceted exoskeletons. Rhoads volunteers at the Seattle Aquarium, gaining inspiration and information on ocean ecology firsthand on a weekly basis.

Rhoads earned an Atrium Baccalalureate from Rollins College 1989, BFA in Glass from Rhode Island School of Design 1993 and a MFA in Sculpture from Alfred University 2001. She received a Fulbright Scholarship for study of sculpture in Venice, Italy in 2001–2002.

In 2014, her work was featured in the Morean Arts Center Chihuly Collection, a permanent installation of artwork by Dale Chihuly and other notable artists. Rhoads' work was noted for displaying the "creative possibility" of studio glass. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum of Glass, the Palm Springs Art Museum, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Seattle Art Museum, the Shanghai Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum.

Shelley Muzylowski Allen was born in Manitoba, Canada, and has a B.F.A. in Painting and Intaglio from the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design (Vancouver, B.C.). In 1998, Shelley worked with the William Morris sculpture team in Washington State as a glass-sculpting assistant through 2004.

In 2005, Shelley established a glass and sculpture studio with her husband, artist Rik Allen at their property in Skagit County, Washington. In addition to being an artist, Shelley and Rik have taught internationally at the Toyama Institute of Glass in Japan, Nuutajarvii Lasikyla, Finland and the International Glass Festival in Stourbridge, England. They have also taught nationally, including the Penland School of Craft, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and at Pilchuck.

Shelley has been awarded Provincial and Canada Council grants, and her work is held nationally and internationally in public institutions and private collections. In 2008, Shelley had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Washington, titled Modern Menagerie. Other selected shows include The San Juan Museum of Art, Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe and Scottsdale; Habatat Galleries, Michigan; Traver Gallery, Seattle; and Schantz Galleries, Massachusetts. In 2012, Shelley was a guest artist at Studio Salvadore in Murano, Italy, where she collaborated with Davide Salvadore on a series of large-scale sculptures.

Nancy Callan grew up near Boston, MA, working as a pizza-maker, band roadie and graphic designer before attending the Massachusetts College of Art (BFA 1996). 

A chance peek into the hot glass studio changed the trajectory of her life; she was entranced by the fluid, glowing material and the demanding choreography of working at the furnace. In 1996 she relocated to Seattle, WA to join maestro Lino Tagliapietra’s glassblowing team, rising to a key position as his assistant and traveling internationally to teach and demonstrate the craft. Through this nineteen-year apprenticeship, Callan mastered the traditional Venetian glassblowing techniques that are the foundation of her innovative work with line, pattern and color. She continues to blaze a trail as an LGBTQ woman, helping to inspire, teach and mentor the next generation of diverse artists in glass.

Callan began exhibiting her work in the 2000s; her first solo exhibition featured vessels and sculptures made during a residency at the Creative Glass Center of America at Wheaton Village in NJ. Residencies, workshops and collaborations continue to feed her practice and create space for experimentation. An avid fan of vintage pop culture and contemporary fashion, Callan’s work brings a modern sensibility to the material and processes of hot glass working.

Sonja Blomdahl is an American blown glass artist, beginning glassmaking as an undergraduate student during the 1970s. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics from Massachusetts College of Art (Boston) in 1974. There she studied with glass sculptor Dan Dailey. In 1976 she spent six months studying at the Orrefors glassworks in Sweden, and her work is sometimes associated with Scandinavian design. Venetian glass master Checco Ongaro taught Blomdahl the method of double-bubble blowing (or incalmo), for which her work is well known.

In 1978, Blomdahl served as a teaching assistant at the Pilchuck Glass School (Stanwood, Washington) for Dan Dailey, where she first watched Checco Ongaro demonstrate the incalmo technique. She has held teaching positions at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle; Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine; and the Appalachian Center in Smithville, Tennessee. Blomdahl's first solo exhibition was at the Traver Sutton Gallery in Seattle in 1981.She opened her own studio in Seattle in 1983, which remained open until 2009. Since the late 2000s, she has moved beyond the symmetrical glass vessels she is known for and worked increasingly with architectural forms.

We welcome you in person!  During International Women's Month, we are proud to highlight the remarkable contributions of women artists. As March draws to a close, we invite you to visit in person to savor the final moments of our breathtaking "For the Love of Glass" Special Exhibit, concluding at the end of this month. 

Or you can view the catalog for For the Love of Glass! 

For the Love of Glass




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