Sam first came to Penland as a student in 1983, and returned just over ten years later to teach, which lucky for us, he continues to do every few years. We have been showing his work in the gallery since 2007, both in exhibits and in the sales gallery. (He will be sending work for the upcoming Weight of Black exhibit later this month.)
Sam’s work reveals itself in layers. First there is the color – he is generous with saturated reds and oranges, and a judicious use of black. Then he edits the forms, keeping them classic and elegant – all the best to carry his skill with the murrini techniques. It seems once you have mastered a traditional technique you have license to play with it – and Sam makes it look effortless. There was a bottle with white cane work that looked like controlled scribbling – soft and loose and perfectly done all at the same time. In contrast – there are pieces that are precise and orderly – wild only in his use of exuberant color. There is much more to the work than meets the eye on first glance – and it would appear that is part of the attraction.
Sam has covered allot of ground since his early days at Penland. Both he and his glass have a quality of integrity, consideration, and professionalism that makes showing his work a pleasure.
Sam Stang was born in Northfield, Minnesota in 1959. He attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri from 1980 – 84. He studied with Fritz Dreisbach at Penland School of Crafts in 1983, and with Lino Tagliapietra at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 1991. Sam was a founding partner in Ibex Glass Studio, 1985 – 1991. In 1992, he moved to Augusta, in rural south St. Charles County, where he remodeled an old auto repair shop and turned it into Augusta Glass Studio, which he still operates as a sole proprietorship. Stang is married to Kaeko Maehata, who is also a glassblower.
About the Work
All of my pieces are made by using traditional European glassblowing techniques. With the murrini pieces, I begin by making glass rods, which are patterned in cross section. The rods are cooled and cut into thin pieces and arranged on an iron plate, which is then heated to fuse the murrini. This is then rolled into a tube on the end of a blowpipe and shaped into the final form.
Every piece I make is entirely produced hot at the furnace. The banded bowls are blown as separate sections and fused together. This technique, known as incalmo, requires a great deal of skill and cooperation. I work with at least one assistant and often with a team of three experienced glassblowers.
We have been showing Joanna’s work for nearly 10 years in the gallery. Her relationship with the school has changed from student, to studio assistant, to extraordinary Penland instructor. She has been published quite a bit, including authoring a number of really smart metals books herself. Her work evolves and reinvents itself – pulling in some surprising materials and reinterpreting traditional techniques in ingenious ways. The body of work we have been showing this spring is from her Prong Series – cut stones – some polished and others matte and rough – mostly set in delicate but exaggerated prong settings or clustered luxuriantly. Not surprisingly, the work has a magnetic attraction.
About Joanna My grandmother spent a large part of her life as an enamelist. In 1992, she gave me all her enamels and her enameling kilns. I decided to learn how to use them by taking a class at the Penland School of Crafts. I enjoyed this basic metalsmithing and enameling class so much that I set up my own beginner’s studio in the basement of the English building at my college. I continued to make jewelry while still studying for my BA degree. After graduating from Warren Wilson College in 1995, I went back to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I received a 2-year degree in Jewelry Design, after studying with some of New York’s most fabulous industry jewelers and designers. I began my jewelry business in 1997, and I currently spend my time making jewelry, teaching people how to make jewelry, and just absolutely loving my job. I live in my hometown of Asheville, NC with my husband, our son, two dogs, and a cat.
About the Work My work is based on elementary design forms. I love using repetition of simple shapes in ways that make the forms come alive. It is exciting for me to explore the relationship of my hands with tools, and the tools with the material. I am interested in movement in my jewelry, and how the jewelry will move in relationship to the body when it is worn. I strive to make jewelry that is interesting and new, that reflects my way of looking at how things should be made, and that is wearable without going out of style.