Fourteen colorful blown-glass objects in fanciful shapes sat in one long line on tables in the Princeton Area Library the evening of March 20 when a glass sculpture that was modeled after a drawing by Griffin Sager, 6, of Princeton was unveiled.
The sculpture is a stylized giraffe that resembles a balloon animal but is made of colorful blown glass.
“It’s a giraffe,” said Griffin on the “Giraffe” drawing he made that was used as a guide to make the blown glass piece. “It’s colorful. It’s happy.”
Princeton Area Library is one of the 14 libraries that make up the East Central Regional Library system, and the sculptured glass event was part of a project funded with a Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund grant. The grant money was used to commission Anthony Michaud-Scorza, a hand-blown-glass artist in Isanti County, to produce the glass sculptures.
The project began during ECRL’s 2013 summer reading program when children ages 4-10 were given the chance to make a colored drawing of something such as an animal or object and submit it to the project competition. An ECRL committee narrowed the entries at each library to three to five finalists, and Michaud-Skuza chose the winner for each library.
Michaud-Scorza, who specializes in contemporary hand-blown glass objects, gave the winning children and a few guests a glass-blowing demonstration at his studio. The children left with an icicle-shaped blown glass sculpture as a souvenir.
Michaud-Scorza and his assistant, girlfriend Andrea Johnson, set to work last September to make the objects and finished them last month. Michaud-Scorza explained how two arms are often not enough to handle all the equipment needed in working the glass pieces during different operations in the glass-blowing process. Michaud-Scorza, in his slideshow presentation at the Princeton library on March 20, explained how he went about making each glass sculpture. His talk also covered many of the techniques in hand-blown glass work and its many challenges. Keeping the glass at certain temperatures throughout the process is critical so that glass pieces do not shatter is one major challenge.
Michaud-Scorza called the making of each of the 14 sculptures fun and explained how he met the challenges unique to each design.
He sometimes would make extra pieces to either come out with enough of pieces of the same proportion or to have an extra piece in case one broke during assembly.
The other sculptures beside “Giraffee” were of a sea horse, a hamburger, a pirate’s parrot, a cat in a boat beneath an umbrella, a rainbow fish, a bird called Picky Pickle, a flower with a turtle on top, a fish inside a fish bowl, a hot rod, a blue jay, Olivia the Outstanding Owl, a six-armed cowboy and a layered square plate called Colorful Hearts.
As of this week, the glass sculpture exhibit will have been taken to the ECRL libraries in Princeton, Pine City, Rush City, Chisago Lakes, Aitkin, Mora, Hinckley, McGregor, North Branch, Milaca, Isle and Cambridge.
ECRL Legacy Project Coordinator Cortney Walbridge, who was at the presentation in the Princeton library, asked the attendees not to show photos of all of the glass sculptures to the public yet. She explained that the children who had not yet seen the sculpture of their drawing needed to see it first during an unveiling when the presentation came to their library. That is why there was a cloth draped over the “Giraffee” sculpture modeled after Griffin’s drawing early in the presentation at Princeton. Griffin stood in front of the draped sculpture to watch it unveiled before Michaud-Scorza began the slideshow.
Michaud-Scorza spent a summer in 2011 studying under glass sculptor Ross Richmond at the Pilchuck School of Glass north of Seattle.