2300 performance at Corning Museum of Glass

Wow- the 2300 event at Corning was massive, in every way. They had over 3,000 people during the 2-hour “show”, and the staff and guests that I talked to said it was hopping!

CMOG has posted some photos of the event on their flickr page.Check it out to see the finished piece!

The setup:

There were 2 stages- one with the band, in the auditorium, and one with me- the hot glass stage. In between in the hallways were wine tastings, snacks and food. On both stages and in the hallways were video screens, showing a mix from 2 cameramen at the hot glass stage and some feeds from the auditorium.

I had two professional glassblowers to help me on stage (could have had more, the sky’s the limit with Corning- but I didn’t think we could fit anyone else on stage!)- Louis Olsen and DH McNabb, who were not only highly skilled and experienced, but were also flexible-minded enough to work on this crazy project, and in the end, I think they also had a lot of fun doing it!

Louis and I wore microphones, so we could provide running commentary while we made the artwork. Steve Gibbs, the mastermind behind this evening, also came on stage to emcee for a while.

We decided that because the stage was very narrow, it would be a good idea to do a long, skinny piece. I also wanted to exploit my assistants’ high skill level, so I decided to do something with bitwork and lots and LOTS of blown pieces with optic molds, so everyone would be constantly busy, and we could create a sort of “assembly line” for… something. DH came up with the idea of hanging the finished pieces along the back wall, and walking them through the audience as each one was done, a sort of procession.

The plan:

I went home after our first night’s practice and started sketching. I’d been meaning to make a dragon for a while, and this seemed like the team that could pull it off.  I felt this was the right time and environment as well-I kept having these indications-  as I was leaving Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, I had come across a duty-free display entirely in Chinese, selling luxury New Year items,  and I had taken pictures of it. It is unusual to have anything in Holland that isn’t in Dutch and English, and it seemed an interesting sign of the changing times, that there are so many Chinese visitors now. I even tried to sign up for a raffle of something, but the card was all in Chinese, and I realized I have a lot to learn…

Then when I got to Corning, some of the first lovely people I met were two 2 Chinese translators for the hot glass show. Corning has a huge number of visitors from everywhere, but enough Chinese visitors to merit 2 translators!  So it seemed to me that the Year of the Dragon was calling me.  The next day at the Rakow library, I did some image research, and sketched the plans for the team.  I was so pleased to find out that Chinese New Year started a few days after the performance,- January 23rd- and that this year was not just a dragon year, but a “water dragon” year- a very rare and special occurrence. How ideal, then, to create a lucky dragon, born precisely of fire and water!  It seemed like an auspicious omen to create one on the stage. I decided to use 8 pieces of paper, for another lucky number.

Over coffee, we strategized a series of components that the guys could make for me, in rapid succession, so that we could print the dragon from nose to tail in 2 hours. We redesigned the stage- moved the bench and marver, took away stuff that we wouldn’t need to gain a few extra inches. It was a tight space for 3 people and lots of glass!  They had to haul out extra blowpipes and punties because we we knew we’d use hundreds of pounds of glass by the end of the session. Here is the crazy sketch:

So many people are involved each month in putting the 2300 event together, Corning is a well-oiled machine, with a real heart: docents, volunteers, safety managers, the marketing staff, catering, security, A/V and tech folks, photographers, museum staff, library staff, all the people from the Finger Lakes wineries who brought wine for the tastings, the band, not to mention the crew that brought me over- Steve, Louise…and so many others helped make this a very memorable evening for me, and hopefully for the many guests as well.

And, in case you missed it above, CMOG has posted some photos of the event on their flickr page.Check it out to see the finished piece!

More press and photos to follow, as they emerge.

Photo credit Ann Welles, from Exhibit A Gallery

*2300 refers to the temperature of hot glass, in Fahrenheit.

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