SESSION 1: Cross-Currents: Scandinavia

May 28 - June 8, 2020

Update 04-21-2020

In response to growing concerns around COVID-19, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel programming through mid-August - including Session 1 courses. We apologize for any inconvenience and are doing our best to communicate with all who have been affected by these cancellations.

We remain optimistic that the late August and Fall programs will continue to take place and encourage interested students to enroll. We have amended our enrollment and refund policies to give you the flexibility and financial security to do so without any risk.

Read more here.


As the first in a series of sessions paying tribute to the international roots of Pilchuck and the American Studio Glass Movement, the artists and teachers involved in this session share common Scandinavian roots but represent a wide range of creative expression.

Artists in Residence: Shoplifter, Mercedes Mühleisen

Craftspersons in Residence: Karin Forslund, Karen Nyholm



Glassblowing, Graal, Ariel, Engraving, Imagery, Coldworking

In this course, students will explore and challenge two of the most famous techniques in Swedish glassblowing: graal and ariel used to encase imagery in hot glass. Working in the Hot Shop, we will make multilayered graal and ariel blanks—and will play a bit with Swedish overlay—and even try to combine these two techniques to push them to higher levels. After creating our blanks in the Pilchuck Hot Shop, we’ll move to the Cold Shop for pattern making by drawing, cutting, sandblasting, and engraving. Come and discover how light passing through glass and encased air transforms the mundane into the magical! 




Micke Johansson is a master glassblower and designer from Sweden. At sixteen-years old, Johansson started working at Orrefors Glassworks, becoming a master glassblower there at the age of twenty four. In 2004, Johansson started to work at Pukeberg Glassworks, where he could develop and produce his own art glass. Since 2007, he has run his own glass studio on his farm outside of Örsjö. There he produces all his glass freehand and with great craftsmanship. Johansson’s specializes in old Swedish techniques like ariel, graal, and Swedish overlay. 


Glassblowing, Mold Blowing, Graal, Cold Working, Imagery, Multiples, Installation, Optical Explorations

Work hands-on and experimentally to examine optical phenomena in glass! Students will explore elements of historical and contemporary Scandinavian glassmaking and design, such as the graal technique. We will combine basic digital image and pattern-making techniques to suspend ideas within the transparent and mutable nature of glass. Through a combination of exercises in and outside of the Hot Shop and Cold Shop, and sculptural responses to the material, students will work through the creative phases of observation, synthesis, and manifestation. 




Stine Bidstrup is a Danish artist whose work explores optical phenomena and interprets and brings ideas about utopian architectural visions to life through glass sculptures, installation, and video. She attended Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and has taught nationally and internationally for the past decade at universities and at several summer programs. She maintains a studio in Copenhagen, travels to Småland, Sweden, to blow glass, and is represented by Heller Gallery, New York. 


Kiln Forming, Food, Presentation, Coldworking

This course focuses on the union between art, functionality, and food. We will use Bullseye sheet glass and kiln-forming techniques to make artworks in glass that are designed to present food. Let your chosen food guide you, or choose your food to fit your design, as long as both are delicious! Work in technicolor or monochrome, sleek or tongue-in-cheek, eclectic or understated. Go beyond the typical tableware and think outside the box on how to elevate and present food as part of your art. The course will culminate in a delicious final exhibition of food on glass art! 




Anu Penttinen lives and works in a Finnish glass village, where glass has been made continuously for over two-hundred-twenty years. Penttinen designs and makes kiln-formed and blown vessel-oriented and sculptural glass objects at her studio, and has also collaborated extensively with Finnish design houses. She is an enthusiastic foodie and has created the concept for the glass village restaurant along with a small village hotel she co-owns and runs.


Glassblowing, Experimentation, Bioactive Glass, Specialty Glass Materials

Explore the possibilities of combining specialty glass materials with furnace glassblowing in Pilchuck’s Annex Studio. Experiment with a variety of specialty glass, including surface-reactive bioactive glasses, glass-ceramics, glass fibers, and even glow-in-the-dark materials! Students will be able to realize their own ideas while learning about the materials and their possibilities in glass art. Get inspired and broaden the materials toolset in your work! 




Laura Aalto-Setälä is a Finnish glass scientist, artist, and designer who works at the intersection of art, design, and science. She has done research on bioactive glasses in both an academic as well as a reseach and development context. In art, Aalto-Setälä  specializes in combining unconventional glass materials with traditional glassblowing techniques. She lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. 



Screen Printing, Imagery, Enamels

In this course, students will learn step by step how to screen print photo-based images on glass using enamels. Incorporating discussions regarding social action and indigenous rights, this course will expand students’ understanding of art as social voice as well as deepen their knowledge of screen printing as they undertake advanced techniques and work. Culminating with discussions on different kiln strategies and methods for firing enamels onto the surface to create a beautiful and durable finish, students will leave with a comprehensive overview of screen printing onto glass. .




Tomas Colbengtson is Sámi, a member of the indigenous nomadic reindeer people who live in the northern parts of Scandinavia. He was born in a small Sámi village close to the polar circle of Björkvattnet Tärna in northern Sweden. In his work, Colbengtson often refers to Sámi culture, investigating cultural identity, history, and indigenous peoples’ contemporary situations. His experiments with combinations of media and material have led to his own unique method to screen print in overlay glass.