GLASS

Jason saw an ad in the classified. SUNRISE STAIN GLASS CO. was looking for an artist who could execute designs in glass using a sand blaster. That was me.  I was experienced in the hidden mysteries of stencil cutting and sandblasting because Jason and I apprenticed under my New Paltz Professor Robert Scheuler while he was creating the Tethys Project, a personal time capsule that would become his primary artistic endeavor for the rest of his life. Each side of each granite cube was incised by sandblasting with images.  These blocks were to be placed in a chain circling the planet. Jason and I were Bob’s Florida fabricators.

SUNRISE STAINED GLASS’s owner did not want to hire a woman, but his wife told him to let me have a try. What I lacked in penis power was compensated by my drawing ability.

It was a hot August afternoon and I had been sandblasting all day underneath the truck container in their parking lot. Just enough room for a 4 foot piece of glass and me. It was the only shade available. One of their customers walked up to me and told me she was paying $2000.00 for the glass panel I was etching, so I better do it good! I was being paid $200.00 for creating the panel. I immediately memorized Sunrise Stain Glass suppliers and made a few carved glass samples with their equipment.  I established my own business and found many customers. We lived at the brand new Breakers of Boca, on A1A and the empty underground parking garage was my first glass carving studio. It was there that I met Irving Brenner, a Manhattan Gallery owner on 57th St. He praised my glass work saying I was the best he’d ever seen. He represented my early works in his Manalapan gallery.

Sandblasting in the parking garage wasn’t ideal. I needed a different studio.The extremely noisy compressor and clouds of powdered sand and glass was too much for the neighbors to take and I was forced to find warehouse studio space. That was also a problem. I just couldn’t keep it clean enough for the landlords.

I went to my glass supplier for studio space.  I was able to make an agreement with Tom, (son of Joe). I could use some space and an 8 foot x 8 foot table in the mirror shop, and in exchange I would sand blast his war memorabilia. Sherman tanks, army Jeeps, Horse drawn cannons, and troop carriers. I was thrilled with this arrangement. I could immediately see the possibility of creating a unique sculptural art form using his factory cut  glass and the expertise of his knowledgeable glaziers. By the second day, Tom had his newest tank, a troop carrier, delivered by an 18 wheel truck.

A deal is a deal. No matter how much I hated every hot boring exhausting minute of sandblasting war memorabilia, I could not walk away from this extra special studio space full of raw material and experts eager to share their hard won knowledge of manipulating glass. 

Our deal lasted 30 years. We both reaped the benefits.

It’s now January, 2020. I met Amber at Joe Roth Glass to collect some sculpture and tools. The men were preoccupied preparing their trucks for the days work. As they realized I was standing in front of my studio, one by one they came over and gave me a big hug. Thank you to Timmy Roth, Al Gonzales, Ray Gonzales, Dennis, Doug, Gene Bradshaw and thank you Robby for the smile and wave. My extensive knowledge of glass is the result of these men being kind enough to share their tricks of the trade with me.

JOE ROTH GLASS INC.  Front left, me. This photo taken in 1983.

Left. 15 horse compressor. Center. Me. Right 300 lb hopper.

I used  white garbage bag secured over my welders mask with an extra large window so I could see. I had an airline that supplied me with filtered compressor air so I could breathe.

The glass and sand dust made this photo foggy.

The morning winter sun illuminated sculptures in progress.

BURST. FAN, TRIANGLE BOWL.

ETCHED AND CARVED GLASS

Each commission required a scale drawing. While at SUNRISE STAIN GLASS I was using exposed blueprint paper from our neighbor on Dixie Highway, Boca Blueprint. This blue and white drawing was one of many. 

ANGLES OF HOPE. White pencil on blueprint paper. 8.5 x 11 inches.

You never know who you will meet in the art business. A Palm Beach designer’s client chose one of my many drawings to be etched on the glass of the front door on his Manalapan home. Jim and I arrived early in the morning because we had a full day’s work in front of us. After we unloaded the sandblasting tools, I began hand cutting the stencil. An older gentleman came out of the house and watched us work. He introduced himself as the owner, and began to tell us about his internment in a Jewish concentration camp and why he chose this drawing for his front doors. We were struggling to keep focused on the art but his compelling story was all we could think about. He was 12 years old. Alone. Desperate. Starving. Hopeless. The only thing he had to cling to were the Angels of Hope that assured him that he would be rescued.

Finally American soldiers liberated the survivors, and one of the G.I.s handed him a chocolate bar. He saved it for 1 week, because he knew it would make him sick if he tried to eat it.

My drawing that he chose was a depiction of his concentration camp Angels of Hope.

His daughter, who was standing silently in the background, finally stepped forward to explain that he had never spoken of his Holocoaust experience before. Not with anyone. He paid us in full, instead of us being paid by the Palm Beach designer explaining that a good Jew never lets a worker leave their home with empty pockets. Jim and I drove home realizing that we had just shared a once in a lifetime experience.

Windows and doors received the deluxe treatment with overlays and bevels.

ROSE WINDOW. Carved colored beveled glass. 7 x 6 feet.

Many carved and colored panels were edge lit for greater drama.

THE OARFISH. carved, colored, and edge lit. 92 x 42 inches. Donated by the owner to THE BOCA RATON MUSEUM OF ART.

OARFISH. Detail. Do you see the diver swimming for her life in the upper left corner?

The Blue Drawings. Carved Glass Designs. Conceived in 1983. Completed 2020.

SPIRAL TREE. Berol Prismacolor pencil on Blue Print Paper. 8 x 7 inches.

This is a design for front doors and transom.

BLUE BAMBOO. Berol Prismacolor on blue print paper. 8 X 16 inches

This tapestry was the inspiration for the next carved glass design.

LIGHTENING TIGER. Berol colored pencil on blue print paper. 14 x 16 inches.

Aisan Art has always been a great influence. This drawing has been 40 years developing. Is is 3 vertical panels.

LOTUS AND KOI. A Tryptic. 13 x 12 inches

GLASS SCULPTURE

I was fascinated by the power of the sandblaster to carve glass. I created shapes and textures in ¾ factory glass. I made bases from sandblasted chunks of wood.

I was influenced by Frank Franzetta, an American fantasy and science fiction artist. His images and glowing colors were glass worthy and a great challenge to me.

MERMAID AND MERMAN. carved and colored 1/2 inch glass. 24 x 24 inches on a textured wood base.

My father in law, Steve Pelish, a sheet metal maestro helped me fabricate a hollow 8 sided galvanized 5 ft. column that I could use as a mold to form stronger and bigger concrete pedestals.

Steve made these 7 inch owls with roofer’s snips, lead solder, and scrap copper. The eyes are sections of copper pipe. He patined them with sal ammoniac. Each owl took about 5 minutes.

4 OWLS. copper. h=7inches.

I made a formula for the concrete consisting of powered glass, pulverized white sand and white portland cement. Each pedestal  had a 3/4 inch groove in the top to accommodate the 3/4 in. thick glass forms.

This series of GEODES were inspired by the real ones at the entrance to the dining room on the top floor of The World Trade Center.

THE HABITAT GALLERY.

Habatat Gallery is a fine art glass gallery that moved to Boca Raton in 1982. It educated me to the fact that glass sculpture was in big demand. Their lighting and display techniques and quality of world class glass sculpture was like putting my imagination in a rocketship.

DYMAX UV GLUE. 

This crystal clear, amazinging glass glue was so strong it would rip off the surface of the glass before ever letting go. I could now weld like David Smith did with steel. The taller, the better.

BIGFOOT. welded, and carved glass with chemically bonded tint glass. 13 ft.

My columns gave me the challenge I loved.

I’m moving a column by the walking method.

My professor from FAU recommended Esperante in West Palm Beach as a great place to display RAINBOW FOREST series.

RAINBOW FOREST. h=12 ft.

GLASS FURNITURE

Impossible, impracticable uses for glass became an artistic possibility for me when I bought a glass cane in a West Virginia second hand store in 1968.

This idea let me to create a series of glass chairs. Stationery, and rocking.

THE CHAIR. h=32 in. carved and welded glass,

The Crystal Bowl, Royal Palm Plaza, donated THE CHAIR to THE BOCA RATON CENTER OF ART, 1989. 

The Boca Raton Center of Art displayed it by the main entrance.

Here’s some of the chairs that Jim and I created over our 30 year career.

YELLOW ROCKER. h=30 inches. 

We used the edges of factory polished round 3/4 inch table tops resulting a perpetual motion rocking action.

CARNIVAL ROCKER.  

CARNIVAL ROCKER.  h=38 inches. Photo by Joe Ashe.

We delivered this rocker to a NY State Senator living in Tampa.

New York Senator – CARNIVAL ROCKER. Welded carved and colored glass. 40 x 18 x 30 inches.

CRYSTAL ROCKER. h=30 inches. The rockers had a 1 inch track where we placed large clear marbles. As the chair rocked, the rolling marbles made a loud growling noise. We displayed it in the cavernous lobby in the Nations Bank Plaza in midtown Atlanta through the efforts of the Vesperman Gallery. 1998. The loud weird noise echoed through the building.

TABLES

The strength of the Dymax UV glue gave us the versatility we needed to make glass furniture. Simple clear shards from the BURST series translated into pointy feet tables.

END TABLE  Welded glass. 30 X 24 X 14

2 END TABLES  welded glass.

Clear and colored coffee tables were made. Jim surveyed the homeowner’s space for a double coffee table installation

Ambers goblets added to the sculptural quality.

Color was added by direct painting and airbrushing.

Mission accomplished.

DOUBLE COFFEE TABLES. Welded and carved and colored glass. 8 x 8 x2 ft.

Clear coffee tables needed unique textures. The snake was created by identical pieces of glass called oysters. We used a ball peen hammer to punch these out of 3/4 inch glass.

ORGANIC FORM COFFEE TABLE. Welded 3/4 inch glass. 2x7x6 feet.

I took the name COFFEE TABLE seriously.

COFFEE TABLE WITH 2 END TABLES. Found and welded glass that was carved and colored.

Dining tables were carved and etched.


The table base had the design etched for a bespoke finish.

SEAFOAM DINING TABLE. welded and tonal etched 1/2 inch glass. 4 x 2.5 feet.

JIM JOINS ME IN THE STUDIO

Jim joined me in the studio and added his powerful and daring vision to the Welded Glass Sculpture. His bold figure MOTHER WITH CHILD was so shocking to me that I was sure no gallery would want it.

MOTHER AND CHILD. h=7 ft. Welded, carved and colored glass.

Of course I was wrong. The Genine Cox Gallery on Lincoln Road, Miami, loved this and every other humanoid that we created. We called them GOLEMS.

A series of Golems became our focus.

CELESTIAL OBSERVER. h= 9 ft.

We had a show at The Hollywood Cultural Center.

Shortly after we delivered THE WADER to a collector in St Petersburg.

Deliveries were always exciting.

My knees started to wobble.

Jim , THE WADER, me and Mary Ann De George.

 MERMAID PLAYING A LYRE. h=8 ft.

MERMAID PLAYING A LYRE. top view.


THE WAITRESS and Miami collector.

THE COWGIRL. h=7 ft. Placed in the permanent collection of Jimmy D. Robinson, who was our representative. He is a world class poet, lyricist, recording artist, music producer and art dealer.

COWGIRL. detail. She has glass marbles in her six shooter instead of bullets.

THE SKIER.

THE SKIER. Welded, carved and colored glass. 7 X 2 X 3 feet.

THE SKIER. Detail. head.

MERMAID PLAYING THE SAXAPHONE.  h=7 ft.

TREE GODDESS. h=8ft.

The Ormand Memorial Art Museum & Gardens placed HORNEY in their permanent collection in 2003. 

HORNEY. Welded, Carved and Colored glass. 20 x 8 x 6 inches.

AMBER JOINS US IN THE STUDIO

Amber graduated from University of Central Florida and joined us in the studio. Bernice Steiner, owner of the Steiner Gallery in Bal Harbor, Miami, praised her work by saying it had great presence. 

CANDY TOTEM.  H =5 ft. Blown and welded sculpture.

BURSTS.

Amber, Jim, and I met at the studio where we made a very special discovery on an early Sunday morning. For years we experimented with a round piece of glass and how to break it from the middle. We had a Ft. Lauderdale detective shoot it with his gun. We suspended the glass and smashed it with a ball peem hammer. Nothing worked.  Jim was not deterred. His new approach consisted of dropping the glass on a very pointy piece of metal. Presto. The glass immediately transformed into the shards we were after.

Now we had the exciting forms that were impossible to get using any other method.

Each piece was razor sharp and required special handling.

We called these new pieces BURSTS.

ORCHID BURST. 48 inches.

BURST 2. h=60 inches

KARMA X. h=50 inches.

Amber and I traveled to University of Miami for their ART AFTER DARK program. We blew glass all night long.

I preferred drawing in the air with an inspirational thread of glass.

KINETIC SCULPTURE

Machine polished glass diameters offered up the most perfect rockers. Marbles were allowed the freedom to rock and roll.

ROCKin ROLLIN ABSTRACT. H=40 inches.

LIQUID YELLOW ROCKER. Oil and water filled glass sections. w=24 inches

BLACK CACOPHONY.  marble filled sections. h=20 inches. In the collection of Joe Ashe, my photographer.

BLUE SILENT ROCKER. Welded glass and chemically bonded tint. 36 x 12 x 12 inches.

BLUE SILENT ROCKER in motion. Welded glass and chemically bonded tint. 36 x 12 x 12 inches.

OUTDOOR SCULPTURE.

Our first outdoor sculpture was commissioned by glass collectors from BallenIsles. The wind, rain, and sun had to be considered while engineering the sculpture.

The collector and Jim hold a prototype so I could decide on the placement.

Now the sculpture could proceed.

Multi colored cullet and prisms were composed with rotating wheels of color.

Prisms incorporated in the sculpture cast their magic in the studio.

Completed and ready for installation.

BALLEN ISLES OUTDOOR SCULPTURE. glass. h=7 feet.

A Boca Raton homeowner chose this sculpture for his intracoastal mansion.

Installations were like a well planned ballet. Muscles replaced tutus.

 CIRCUMFUSION. welded glass with cullet and prisms on an aluminium base. 8 x 4 feet.

ITZIK ASHER’S bronze sculptures were so excited about my sculpture, CLIMAX at the KAREN ASHER GALLERY.

My sister, Allyn, helped maintain the sparkle.

A Fort Lauderdale mansion found room for this indoor-outdoor sculpture.

CLIMAX. Welded glass with cullet, prisms, aluminium base. 8 x 4 x 4 feet.

Sometimes outdoor sculptures were placed inside. This found a home in the penthouse of a brand new Boca Raton Condo, LUXURIA.

LUXURIA.  welded glass with aluminium frame. h-8ft.

LUXURIA. h=8 ft. Welded clear glass.

THE FORGE RESTAURANT

Alvin Malnik, owner of THE FORGE, a landmark restaurant in Miami  commissioned me to create STRANGE WOMEN IN STRANGE PLACES, 12 portraits carved and colored in custom silvered ½ inch mirrors. 40 x 60 inches. Mr. Malnick was thrilled with the results and treated my huge family to the best meal any of us ever had in his legendary FORGE Restaurant. This is the Pharmacy Room that burned down a few years after the installation.

Each panel was installed in antique pharmacy cabinets.

Mr. Malnik was in favor of using surreal masterpieces to base this series on.

Referenced Salvadore Dali. HEAD OF APOLLO.

Referenced THE SON OF MAN.  a 1964 painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.

They reflected each other in the mirrored background.

HEAD OF APOLLO reflecting in SUIT AND TIE.

APPLE HEAD and THORNY

SUIT AND TIE and THE MASK.

NYMPH HOLDING APPLE WITH NYMPH.

APPLE WITH NYMPH, detail.

Music and Literature were included. APPLE HEAD, VIOLIN, BOOKHEAD. The background was carved to simulate wood grain.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES SHIP SKY.  CARVED AND COLORED GLASS MURAL. 

M.A.C. Fine Arts, Ft. Lauderdale, commissione me to create this 16 x 20 ft mural to be shipped to Germany and installed so the ship, SKY could meet its maiden voyage destination, the total eclipse of the sun in the North Sea. Jim and I worked day and night. 

I was given another artist’s drawing to refer to. Many changes were made.

A lot could go wrong if I didn’t make perfect plans

I used a grid method, with a projector. 

The full scale drawing was done in my condo.

I had to make sure all the drawings lined up. Each piece of paper represented a piece of glass.

I transferred the pattern to the sticky back rubber stencil and included a code for Jim to carve the glass to the proper depth with the sandblaster.

Mistakes were not tolerated. But they happened. Hiding the mistakes was part of the art. We were great at transforming mistakes into fine art.

After Jim carved the glass, he placed it on the table in it’s correct position so I could apply the chemically bonded tint.

Another layer of clear stencil had to be applied to paint the images perfectly.

Each piece of glass needed its own detailed color airbrushed for a smooth finish.

Two eight ft square tables on wheels held the glass in place.

My favorite visitors. Donald Atkinson, Amber Pelish, Genevieve Caulkins, John Caulkins. Mrs. Roth.

Jim was able to make the best continuous sweeps with the sandblasting gun. Mine were so uneven.

Just checking.

Touch ups. Plastic rods separated the panels. If they touched they would chip each other.

I photographed each individual panel. Then I photoshopped them together.

All the panels were successfully shipped to Germany for the installation, with the instructions to baffle the back lighting with sheets of translucent white lucite.

THE DEEP SEA. Carved and colored illuminated glass mural. Installed above the Dining Room entrance.

 Barry and JoAnne Epstein arranged with Norwegian Cruise Lines to allow me to visit the mural when the Sky docked in Miami. Of course I brought my family. We were alone on the huge ocean liner and we were treated to lunch.

Amber and Jason, ping pongers,

verse Jim and Lisa Scanlan Pelish

We were alone.

Grooving topside.

Jim was a big winner in his imagination.

NEXT – ACTING, EDUCATION, AWARDS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *