Replica of TMA honors building’s 100th anniversaryWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
From the shape of the trees to the architectural details on the facade, a new glass installation at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) features nearly an exact replica of the museum’s main building.
Created in commemoration of the building’s 100th anniversary, the 9-foot- wide, 34-inch- high glass panel is the result of the collaborative effort of a host of area craftsmen, primarily TMA’s Glass Studio Manager Jeff Mack, Glass Studio Assistant Manager Doug Patterson and 3-D Studio Manager Hans Ruebel.
The piece, accented with bronze and glass elements, was recently installed in the newly renovated Museum Café, creating a dividing wall between the ordering area and dining area. The shape of the museum is formed by negative space inside the glass.
“We pitched the idea of doing a negative relief form of glass, so the shape of the museum would be dictated by the void,” Patterson said. “People like how it changes color. It sort of shifts color in the light and by the angle you look at it and the time of day. Depending on when you come in here, it can look gold, blue, green.”
The size of the piece was probably the biggest challenge, Mack said. The panel consists of three sections of glass, each weighing up to 300 pounds.
After two failed attempts to cast the pieces in the kilns at TMA, the team enlisted the help of Babcock Design Studio in Saline, Mich., which has larger kilns. Each section spent two weeks in the kiln before being cooled gradually to prevent cracking or shattering.
Joel O’Dorisio, an art instructor for Bowling Green State University’s Chapman Learning Community, helped Patterson build the mold used to cast the glass.
“They spent a lot of time taking clay and foam and building up the correct shapes to make the mold the glass was going to be made from, shaping and pushing and pulling with tiny little tools to get the clay into the exact shape but in reverse of what you see,” Ruebel said.
O’Dorisio said he enjoyed the technical challenge.
“It was an opportunity for me to work on a piece on a scale that is really pretty rare for the material,” O’Dorisio said. “It was an honor for me to be chosen by the museum to help them realize this piece. It put my skills as an artist to the test.”
Another challenge was constructing a base strong enough to support the 1,000-pound panel. The base was constructed at TMA by Ruebel with assistance from Physical Plant Manager Paul Bernard and the maintenance department. Ruebel also designed and assembled the bronze trees for the piece.
“It was a challenge just putting all the parts together and getting it assembled,” Mack said. “Moving and installing 300-pound pieces of glass is not an easy task.”
The assembly was done at TMA by TMA staff, but the creation process involved the efforts of many people.
Toledo Sign Co. cut the intricate tree shapes out of bronze. Uroboros Glass of Portland, Ore., donated all the casting glass. Glass for the tree boughs came from Bullseye Glass Co., also in Portland. Interstate Commercial Glass & Door Inc. of Northwood helped install the piece.
“So many people were involved together in this one project,” Ruebel said. “It was a real collaboration of many, many people.”
All four artists said they are proud of the finished project.
“I’m really excited about it. There’s such amazing detail in it,” O’Dorisio said. “There’s really only a few people who could do this piece and only a few places where it could be done. Just a lot of skills from a lot of different craftsmen came together to be put into that piece. I think it looks great.” O