PPP: Building a Glass Community

Gail Pulkrabek, chairman of the Art Glass Guild and president of the Art Glass Association of Southern California, fields questions regarding these two organizations.

Dichroic glass with hand etching by Lyn Feudner.

What is the Art Glass Guild?

The Art Glass Guild is a non-profit art glass co-op and working studio that is located in the Spanish Village Art Center (SVAC) in San Diego, Calif. Each of our 38 members is considered a "Glass Ambassador" and is expected to educate the public about art glass. We share art glass information in a variety of ways, including through lectures, demonstrations, and sharing video and printed information to anyone who is interested in learning about art glass. Thirty-five of our members offer their art glass for sale at our studio, while the other three are with us because they enjoy being involved in the art glass community and educating the public.

Spanish Village Art Center is made up of 39 different art studios, five of which are guilds. Each studio has a variety of partners who create their art and sell it on-site. Each of the five guilds in the Village have around 35-40 members, which means that Spanish Village is home to over 300 artists. Visitors can watch glass being blown, pottery being made, metal smiths hammering out jewelry, weavers spinning wool they have sheared from their own llamas, silk painters creating gorgeous scarves, and artists painting lovely pictures. The Art Glass Guild is part of this vital community.

Lamp-work beads by Cornelia Jarst. Silver-rich reactive glass was used for these beads.

Why was the Art Glass Guild Formed?

The Art Glass Guild was formed in 1998 because a group of glass artists were looking for a viable way to share their passion for glass while expanding the public's knowledge and appreciation of this beautiful and versatile art form. My vision was to make the Guild a successful working studio while creating an environment of sharing information with the other artists and educating the public, and I can honestly say that I am very happy with our success.

What types of glass art are typically worked with/offered?

We commonly offer blown glass, stained glass, lamp-work beads and jewelry, fused glass, cast, mosaic, torch-worked, etched and sandblasted glass. We also have many combination and crossover items that feature metal with glass and/or wire, wood, resin, fossils, stone, depression glass, hand weaving and semi-precious stones.

It has always fascinated me that 35 artists can take the medium of glass and combine it with their imagination to create such a vast array of items-vases, paperweights, perfume bottles, necklaces, wind chimes, weather vanes, door knobs, wishing balls, plates, sushi plates, marbles, hair clips, earrings, rings, water fountains, windows, wall hangings, bracelets, night lights, cups, cake toppers, coasters, sconces, pocket vases, letter openers-the list is endless.

Blown glass by Patty Yockey.

How much involvement do the Guild's artists have with the Guild and with the broader glass community?

Each member works at the studio one day per month. They demonstrate their art and educate the public, and they also are responsible for one "Guild job" (e.g., buying cleaning supplies, boxes, bubblewrap and cleaning the studio). In addition, each member is also expected to volunteer to help out with Guild events, such as our Semi-Annual Show and Sale and our Open Houses. At these events, all participants must share in coordinating, advertising, setup and demonstrations.

Many members also volunteer their time and services to help with the Spanish Village Art Center by chairing events, running fundraising booths at SVAC events, being SVAC board members, and working on publicity and graphic arts for advertising.

Each member of the Guild is also expected to donate at least one of their art items (many donate several) to be provided to other non-profit groups for use in their fundraising activities. I believe this helps our group create a flow of positive energy by helping many branches of the community. Some of the groups we have donated to include: Alpha Project, Feral Cat Coalition, House Rabbit Society, Project Wildlife, San Diego Center for the Blind, San Diego Youth Services, San Diego Zoological Society, and the Spanish Village Art Center.

One of our Guild members traveled to Africa to help set up an art program to teach the local residents new skills that would enable them to have their own self-supporting art co-op. Other members have received grants to help with programs they created to use glass to work with underprivileged children and low-income families.

Many of our Art Glass Guild members help support the community by working or teaching at dozens of the local glass-blowing studios, glass supply stores, colleges, and adult education centers in San Diego and Los Angeles. Several of our members have received prestigious scholarships and apprenticeships to organizations such as the Corning School of Glass, Dale Chihuly's Pilchuck, and the Penland School of Glass, as well as several programs in Italy and South America.

What types of classes are offered, and how often?

We started offering classes about five years ago, after frequent requests from our loyal customers. We have a strong following, not just with the local San Diego residents, but with many folks who travel to see us from all over the world.

We felt it was important to be consistent with our high quality and the diversity that keeps our customers coming back, so we decided to offer classes that are unique: one-on-one and geared for the student and whatever pace they feel comfortable with. Unlike most other classes, our class fees include all supplies and equipment usage. There are no hidden fees, and we supply everything. Anyone interested in taking a class can just contact an instructor and set up a day and time for their class. We currently offer classes in etching, fusing, stained glass, lamp-working, PMC, jewelry-making and wire-working.

Blown glass in a dragon scale pattern by Lea de Wit.

How does the Art Glass Guild interact with the Art Glass Association of Southern California?

The Art Glass Association of Southern California (AGASC) was founded in 1981 by a group of San Diego glass artists who loved glass. As they started meeting and sharing ideas and information, the association was born.

The two groups share members and ideas, and often take turns hosting workshops and demonstrations. Currently, the Art Glass Guild has a Semi-Annual Show and Sale in May and October. We fill the entire patio at the Spanish Village Art Center with the glass art from our 35 artists, plus guest artists.

The Art Glass Association of Southern California has a juried Annual Gallery Show that lasts approximately two weeks in November. This show typically includes small to large items; some may be industrial in scope or scale while others are interactive. The only requirements to enter are that the artist is a current member of the AGASC and that the art contains 51% glass.   

For additional information, contact the Art Glass Guild at 1770 Village Place, Studio 25, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 702-8006; or visit www.agasc.org.


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