We’re excited to welcome Rebecca Hopman to the site today for her first post in a new series on the incredible #libasincubator work at the Rakow Research Library at the Corning Museum of Glass.  The CMOG is a special place where librarians, curators, artists, and educators all work together to share the history and craft of glass making.  Enjoy! ~Erinn

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Jenni Kemarre Martiniello; “The 5 Principles,” 2014; Kiln-formed glass, copper, leather, bonded

by Rebecca Hopman

The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass introduces artists, students, scholars, collectors, and Museum visitors to all aspects of glass. Every year, over a thousand artists from all over the world come to take classes at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, our glassmaking school. Classes range in length from a weekend workshop to a ten-week session and cover everything from basic techniques to complicated processes.

Each week while summer and winter Studio classes are in session, Rakow Library staff members give students an introduction to Library services and collections. The introduction includes a tour of the collections and incorporates a look behind the scenes in the room where our rare and special collections are stored.

We encourage students to spend time in the Library researching a topic or technique, watching artist demonstration videos, or exploring our rich collections of design drawings and sketchbooks. If students can’t make it in during their time in Corning, we remind them of the distance services we offer. These introductions are optional, but we often have a strong turnout and an enthusiastic response. Students are excited by the range and depth of our collection, and the fact that once they are back home in San Francisco or Stockholm they can still access our materials. Many make time during the week to visit us, and others extend their stay specifically to spend time in the Library.

Students are excited by the range and depth of our collection, and the fact that once they are back home in San Francisco or Stockholm they can still access our materials. Many make time during the week to visit us, and others extend their stay specifically to spend time in the Library.

While many of these artists incorporate Library research into their artwork, occasionally whole classes use our collections as part of a project. My colleague Beth wrote about one such class two summers ago that used many of our design drawings to inspire their flameworked forms. This past summer, I was lucky enough to work with another class who used our rare book collection as inspiration for their kilnworking project.

Seven emerging and established glass artists came to The Studio to participate in Mel George’s Kiln Allegories class. When teaching a class, George takes her surroundings into account. “[I] try to give the students special experiences that the individual places can offer,” she explained in a letter. For this class, she was influenced by the mission and collections of the Rakow Research Library. “I have always known the Rakow Research Library is the best for glass in the world, and did use this as the inspiration for the first project.”George and her students came to one of our introductions and were inspired by some of the rare books they saw. They arranged to come back a second time to look at the books in the Library’s collection which incorporate glass.

During their second visit, the class got a chance to examine books such as Michael Glancy’s Infinite Obsessions and Moderntsvensktglas (ed. Gregor Paulsson). The students discussed the different thoughts and emotions each book evoked, and reflected on their own projects. An impromptu reading rounded out the trip.

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The students returned to The Studio, and, as George explains, “[the] tour of the library, the items and library philosophies, seeped into [their] books.” Her assignment for the students was to “make a book, made of glass, which speaks to their personal story as artists. Essentially, each book is an artist’s visual poem that utilizes surfaces, images, forms, textures and light to harmonize as well as personal palettes of colors to evoke feelings related to their ideas.”

Essentially, each book is an artist’s visual poem that utilizes surfaces, images, forms, textures and light to harmonize as well as personal palettes of colors to evoke feelings related to their ideas. ~Mel George

At the end of the class, George and her students invited several members of the Library and Museum staff to an afternoon tea. George spoke about the project and how the Library’s collections inspired the assignment. Each student had a chance to talk about their book and the story behind it. The students pulled their inspiration from their families, cultures, memories, and experiences, as well as how books shape their readers, the experience of reading to another person or being read to, the thought that there are no new ideas, and the spaces in between things.

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Mel George speaks about the inspiration behind the glass books.

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Gabrielle Li speaks about her glass books Buried Alive.

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Gabrielle Li; Buried Alive, 2014; Kiln-formed glass.

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Shannon Brunskill explains the concept behind her glass book, The Ones I Can Recall.

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Shannon Brunskill; The Ones I Can Recall, 2014; Kiln-formed glass, vellum, ink, waxed cord.

Two of the glass books were directly inspired by the oldest item in the Library collection, the Mappae clavicula. The glass recalls the textures and colors of the 12th century manuscript.

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Cover of the Mappae clavicula (CMGL 72720).

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Interior of the Mappae clavicula (CMGL 72720).

Mel George; Homage to the MappaeClavicula, 2014; Pâte de verre.

Mel George; Homage to the Mappae Clavicula, 2014; Pâte de verre.

Julie Alland; Saudade, 2014; Kiln-formed glass

Julie Alland; Saudade, 2014; Kiln-formed glass

The artists donated their glass books to the Museum, which, to George, was a fitting way to end the class. To her, the books represent the time the artists spent here, and the donation was a “beautiful, poetic, finale for my class.”

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One of the first class assignments was to create the books on this glass shelf.

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The Kiln Allegories class presented this gift to the staff of The Rakow Library.

 

profilepic_hopmanRebecca Hopman is the Outreach Librarian at The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass. She has worked in a number of libraries and archives since 2005 and received her MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012. When she’s not at the library, you might find her embroidering, writing snail mail, or cheering on the Chicago Cubs. Follow her on tumblrextabulis.tumblr.com.

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