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Glass Smorgasbord with Amy Rueffert

Glass artist Amy Rueffert will be at Penland for the first time this spring to teach an eight-week workshop. We corresponded briefly about food, glass, and the movies.


Amy Rueffert, Apple (Patchwork Variety), blown and fused glass, decals, found glass
Amy Rueffert, Apple (Patchwork Variety), blown and fused glass, decals, found glass

Thinking about the food metaphor for your workshop, do you feel like there’s a connection between culinary presentation and the presentation of Victorian curios that attracts you as an artist?

Yes! I love the food metaphor because it pertains to this class in so many ways. I think the most relevant connection is through the idea of the smorgasbord, and that moment when you realize there are all these beautifully presented options for you to choose from. You can fill your plate with a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and go back for more of your favorites. That’s what we’ll be doing in this workshop, filling our plates with different techniques to make sculptural glass.

I’m really looking forward to students digging deep within their inspirations and connecting to their sources through research, class dialogue and exploring the material. Teaching is a great source of inspiration for me, so I’m looking forward to spending eight weeks getting to know everyone and making great things along the way.


Amy Rueffert at work (courtesy of the artist)
Amy Rueffert at work (photo courtesy of the artist)


Amy Rueffert – Glass Smorgasbord
March 9-May 2, 2014
Hungry? This workshop will be a smorgasbord of traditional and alternative glass techniques beginning with blowing, cutting, grinding, gluing, smashing, building, and fusing. Through experimentation, exploration, and teamwork mixed with practice, patience, and hard work, we’ll find personal connections to the visual and physical properties of glass as we realize our ideas. The balance of skill and concept will be a theme throughout, with demonstration and discussions of my process and those of visiting artists. In the words of Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Let’s eat! All levels, but some hot glass experience will be helpful.

To find out more and register for this workshop click here.
Spring scholarship deadline is November 29.
Please note: applications need to be at Penland by this date to be considered for scholarship. Overnight service may not deliver to Penland’s campus on time, please plan accordingly.


Just curious: is Auntie Mame one of your favorite movies?

I’ve loved the movie Auntie Mame since I was a little girl! I can remember flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon and seeing bits and pieces of this movie over and over again and being so intrigued by the aesthetics of the film, and of course, Rosalind Russell. It took me a while to figure out the name of the movie, and finally I did, and it’s been a favorite ever since.

I’m still searching for a specific Barbra Streisand movie that had a similar effect. The scene I can remember goes like this: Barbra is in a city apartment, sitting in a bed. She’s dressed in floral printed pajamas that match the bed sheets that match the fabric-upholstered headboard. It is like she’s lost in a field of floral fabric and it’s amazing. Any ideas?



Amy Rueffert has taught at The Studio at Corning, Pilchuck, The Glass Lab at MIT, Haystack, and San Jose State University. Her work is included in collections of the Corning Museum, Tacoma Museum of Glass and Glasmuseet Ebeltoft. She currently lectures in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.



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A Glass Maker Escapes to Clay






“As a glass maker I’ve found myself drawn to ceramics more and more. Both mediums have a fluidity that in order to really harness, you have to hone in on the moment. You can’t just let go of molten glass or a spinning potter’s wheel whenever you desire. Sometimes you have to though; sometimes my glass starts cracking and fighting against me and I have to set it down.


This happened to me a few times during my recent study at Penland. When it did, I’d go visit Upper Clay. Then I felt rejuvenated.”




“The clay studio is a safe haven compared to the flameworking studio. There’s a gorgeous light coming in from the windows. The colors of clay and glazes are subdued and easy on the eye. More often than not, a chill tune is playing while wheels hum in the background. It’s the perfect place to see my medium from another maker’s point of view.”


Arlie Trowbridge, glass artist and owner of Urban Revisions, who took a one-week workshop in wearable glass with Rachel Rader in the flameworking studio last week.


Find out more about our hot glass and flameworking workshops.

Find out more about our upcoming workshops in clay.




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Elliot Todd, glassblower

Elliot Todd working in the Penland glass studio
Elliot Todd working in the Penland glass studio

Smart, focused and driven: these are three words that can be used to describe what it takes to be a successful artist. They are also three words that describe Penland School of Crafts glass student Elliott Todd, but with one addition: he is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

A native of Boone, North Carolina, Elliott used to visit Penland as a boy with his father and attended community open house events. As a teenager, he started making flameworked beads at home with a simple mapp gas torch and rods of glass. After high school graduation, Elliott was unsure of what direction to go until he heard that a beginning hot glass class was being taught by Ed Schmidt at Penland. The two-month class introduced Elliott to the basics of glassblowing and inspired him to continue to learn more.

Though a year would pass before Elliott could take another two-month class at Penland, you would not have known that any time had passed at all. Elliott is a true natural and has a memory for detail that serves him well. He completed the fall 2009 glass concentration taught by Dave Naito with even more skills, ideas, and inspiration, and he immediately signed up for the spring 2010 glass concentration currently being taught by Scott Benefield. “Elliott is an unstoppable force,” commented one fellow student. “He’s always so excited to work in the studio whether he is assisting someone else or working on his own project. He’s just a great person to be around.”

Because of his experiences at Penland, Elliott now plans to attend college and major in glass.

–Karen Mahardy