There are times when one is lucky enough to know in the moment that you are in the midst of a very special experience. Yesterday was one of those days. My father, Dick Weiss, is a professional artist who is doing a week-long residency with his co-creator Walter Lieberman at The Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma, Washington. He and Walt have been making monotype prints and painting on glass for many decades under the moniker WD40, and this event focuses on combining two of their main mediums of glasswork and printmaking. When I heard what they were going to explore during the week in MOG’s hot shop I was excited to see what the integration of these two disparate forms would produce.
This collaborative offering from WD40 and the MOG glass blowing team was also a wonderful opportunity to continue the ongoing documentation MK Barr and I are doing of the nine Northwest studio glass artists we interviewed for MK’s Painted in the Desert film in 2011. The Painted in Desert movie is an intimate view into the worlds of seventeen working artists overall, exploring questions about how the artists really feel about collaboration, inspiration, earning a living, and the deep satisfaction of following their own visions. The glass artists in the film include my father Dick Weiss; Walter Lieberman; Cappy Thompson; Charlie Parriott; Paul Marioni; Bob Carlson; Sonja Blomdahl; and Dick Marquis. Because these are my father’s best friends, and I grew up with all of these folks, I see them as my aunties and uncles. This intimacy offered the movie unique and candid interviews from an insider’s perspective. And to be fortunate enough to have Dick, Walt, and Bob Carlson all together for the day was a dream come true.
Dick and Walt’s plan for this week at MOG’s well-appointed blowing studio was to take images from previous monotype’s they had created, print them on special decals that allows the imagery to withstand the heat of molten glass, fire those images from the decals onto blank glass cylinders, and then have the blowing team create new vessels with the images on the cylinders captured inside the blown form.
WD40, which to be accurate is now WD40+ (their charming nod to their advancing ages) has been a very prolific partnership, and they have made some incredibly beautiful work over the years together. They are well matches as collaborators, Dick being more wild, gut-bomb, and German Expressionist in his painting styles, while Walt offers a more tempered and refined beauty to their designs. Dick loosens Walt up, and Walt reins Dick in. During this residency the team would focus on putting monotype portraits of women they had previously painted onto these new blown pieces. They also used some decals Walt had created in previous experimentations, he is a wonderful mad-scientist-professor, and you can see some of the first prototypes with the mix of decals in the album here. The new work was not out of the annealer yet to be photographed.
The entire day was filled with so much fun and creative synergy that I will share many images here. MK and I got a lot of great footage, and I look forward to the videos that will emerge as well. Here is a list of some of the highlights:
- Dick making his hands into a scope to size up some prints
- Bob doing the “happy printing dance” with cans of ink
- Walt strategizing with chalk on the cement floor
- A surprise visit from Sheila Coppola of Sidereal Press adding to the printing fun
- Everything the MOG blowing team does, thanks Ben, Niko, and Gabe
- My buddy from Garfield high school, Greg Owen, as the MC of the event
- Sheila Coppola getting the double “Weiss-treatment” of teasing from Dick and Mellissae while printing
- Bob Carlson triumphantly grinning after his print got even better after another run through
- Frank Burk showing off the new “happy microphone cover” on MK’s camera
- Lunch at the sacred taco truck
- Derrick Klein using the GoPro to film from the bottom of a bowl of water as Walt dropped a decal in from above
- Walt comparing he and Dick to the two personalities in The Patty Duke Show-you guess which is which
- Dick and Bob horrifying MK and Mellissae by putting hand lotion on their faces
- The entire staff at the museum-you were ALL so great-Thank YOU
- And of course all of the beautiful work being produced