SESSION 6: Builders

August 22 - September 2, 2020

In the first several years of Pilchuck’s program each participant was required to provide for their own shelter.  In this spirit, we will explore both traditional and unorthodox ways to build out of glass components.  From permanent buildings to ephemeral installations students will learn, create and build, build, build.  

Student applications accepted until courses are filled. Learn more about how to apply, tuition details, and more here

Artists in Residence: Judy Pfaff, Buster Simpson

Craftspersons in Residence: Courtney Branam, Jasen Johnsen



Hot-Glass Sculpting, Cane, Murrine, Pattern, Biomimicy

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” —Attributed to John Muir

With biomimicry as a central focus, this course will contemplate humanity’s transition from industrial to biocompatible technology. Using the Hot Shop, Cold Shop, and the Wood & Metals Shop, students will express themselves through drawing and making, culminating in works that will straddle installation, sculptural, and utilitarian realms. The class will take inspiration from systems biology and mechanics of growth to create modular components for collaborative and individual work.




Kait Rhoads is best known for her innovative use of Venetian blown-glass techniques, such as murrine and filigrana, which she has applied to public art, sculptural forms, vessels, and jewelry. Rhoads received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; her MFA from Alfred University, New York; as well as a Fulbright grant to study sculpture in Murano, Italy. She maintains a studio in Seattle, Washington, and volunteers at the Seattle Aquarium.  Rhoads recently completed the installation of Salish Nettles, a major commission for the new Pacific Seas Aquarium, Tacoma.



Glassblowing, Hot Glass Components and Assembly, Teamwork

In this course, students will focus on strategies in glassblowing, teamwork, and assembly. Students will begin by fine-tuning their control of heat, gravity, and centrifugal force; combining these elements to make objects with hot glass. As the class approaches more complicated forms, the mastery of these core skills will be essential to communication as we transition between the roles of gaffer and team member or assistant. Culminating in assembly, students and their team will assemble their glass components in the hotshop using a variety of approaches and strategies. 





Masahiro Sasaki was born in Nagoya, Japan. He studied glass art at Aichi University of Education, and Toyama City Institute of Glass Art. Sasaki’s glass sculptures are pure molded expression derived through material, technique, and the making process. Currently, Sasaki is a professor at Aichi University of Education. He has also taught at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, New York, as well as exhibiting his works all over the world.



Sand Casting, Structure Building, Modularity

Twenty-five years ago, the Trojan Horse was the centerpiece of a Pilchuck summer session focused on glass and architecture. This reprisal will once again use glass casting as a tool to understand how casting can be a creative catalyst. Students will be taught elemental systems of sand casting and be directly engaged in a new structure on campus. Modularity, systems strategies, pattern, and aesthetics will be discussed in relation to the community and the ultimate disciplinarian; the clock. The only prerequisites are inquisitiveness and an ability to engage by learning through a direct and experimental project.




Hank Murta Adams earned an undergraduate degree in painting before making glass his focus in graduate school, after being introduced to the glass community by Dale Chihuly. Adams’ work as an educator, both officially at institutions and informally in communities, at non-profits, and creative-work tanks, is a central facet of his life and work. He garnered awards and exhibited his own sculpture extensively until the events of 9/11, when he began to focus more deeply on creative community development. 


Kilncasting, Moldmaking, Wax Working, Coldworking

Glass—fragile but timeless. This dichotomy can be a poignant vessel for depicting nostalgia for the past held in the semi-permanence of memory. In this course, we’ll explore a variety of techniques and materials for moldmaking with small objects either brought from home or made on campus before casting in the kiln. From planning molds and setting up models, to silicones and wax working, to finishing our work in the Cold Shop, students will learn kiln-casting techniques and processes. Come capture form and memories in glass!




Wm. Austin Norvell is a studio artist whose focus is lost-wax glass casting. He divides his time between his studio in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Berengo Studio 1989 in Murano, Italy. In Charleston, Norvell is developing several series of glass sculptures that speak to nostalgia and collecting. In Murano, his work at Berengo Studio helps bring the cast-glass process to internationally renowned contemporary artists who typically work in other media. 


Flameworking, Networking, Construction

Focus on building a solid foundation for networking construction techniques in flameworking. Students will cover structural and design analysis to make sculptural pieces. Working with mainly solid borosilicate rods and some hollow tubes in sculptural contexts, students will focus their time on projects and developing designs. This networking technique can be used in any type of construction—from body ornaments to life-size sculptures. Focusing on concept and technical skills, push your ideas from the sketchbook onto the torch. 





Korean-born glass artist Eunsuh Choi arrived in the U.S. having already completed a Master’s degree in glass from Kookmin University, Seoul, but she chose Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, as a place where she could both study English and earn a second MFA in glass. Choi’s work is on permanent collection at Corning Museum of Glass, New York; European Museum of Modern Glass, Germany; Cafesjian Center for the Arts, Armenia; Rochester Institute of Technology; Lotte Hotel Yangon, Myanmar; Kim Young English Institute, South Korea; and more. 


Wood and Metal Fabrication, CNC Milling, 3D Scanning, Modeling, and Printing, Laser Engraving, Casting

Explore the fundamentals of sculptural fabrication by focusing on executing multi-media artworks! Learn woodworking, metal working, and digital production processes and gain an understanding of 3D modeling to create designs for 3D printing or subtractive manufacturing processes. Using the X-Carve CNC machine, carve designs in plaster and wood to cast with a variety of materials (resin, metal, or chocolate!). Limited access to glass casting will be available, however the priority will be on exploring other materials. Let’s get messy!





Rebekah Birkan is a New York City-based sculptor. Birkan works as a professional fabricator while pursuing her own practice combining glass, ceramic, wood, and metal in order to investigate feminism, the body, and mysteries. Christian Oiticica is an artist who works and lives in Chicago, Illinois. His current work has explored the intersection of glass, plastic, and ceramic through object making. The objects are created from components inspired by shapes seen in nature, architecture, and scientific representations.