It takes a few days and time zones to get from Juneau, Alaska to Murano, Italy. When Tasha and Lincoln arrived on the tiny island, it was well over 100 degrees. They hopped off the vaporetto, the public transportation around the island, and lugged their backpacks down the canal in search of Davide Penso's glass studio. Not really knowing where they were going, they started asking for directions. What they soon found was a highly motivated glass teacher, unlimited inspiration and a community of passionate glass artists.
Courtesy photos Lincoln Farabee of Basement Studios in Venice, Italy.
"It was way more than we expected. We lived in an apartment with the teaching assistant, Lucia Pietrobon, over the glass studio. Lucia ended up being our local Venetian guide and social organizer."
"Everyone at the studio was helpful, generous with their knowledge and very funny in that 'I am not really sure what you just said to me' sort of way. During class, we spent a great deal of time laughing and listening to crazy music," said Walen.
Courtesy photos A necklace of ivory glass and copper design.
got by with the common language of glass workers. Their studies lasted a month, which involved every thing from lampworking/torchwork bead making, small scale glass blowing, cold working such as glass grinding, jewelry design work, and an exploration of local glass history.
"Time really flew by. We were working almost 50 hours a week. Davide Penso is really a master of his art. He gave us personal insight into what it is like growing up in a glass working community," Lincoln said.
"We just assumed that everyone in Murano wanted to grow up to be a happy glass artist, when on the contrary, parents use to warn their children that if they did not do well in school, they would end up working the in glass factory!"
Things are changing in Murano. With the influx of Chinese made glass beads and art glass, the Muranese glass artists are being forced to unite and adapt. "In the past, artists were very hushed about their knowledge, but now you can find Italian glass artists teaching all over the world and a few are opening their studios in Murano for teaching," Walen said.
Both artists agree that their Murano studies helped inspire them to look forward for new ideas and to respect the past history of their craft. The couple has been using their new knowledge to create beads and art glass for people to enjoy.
"We would really love to open a large scale glass studio in Juneau, with a glass blowing furnace and multiple torches for classes," said Walen.
"Juneau has the passion for it. That's the dream anyway. We will have to see what the future holds."
Tasha and Lincoln's locally handcrafted glass beads, jewelry designs and fused art glass can be found year round at the Juneau Artist Gallery. They also have a new website: www.basementstudiosalaska.com.
Walen invites visitors and locals alike to stop by the gallery on Friday, July 6th for First Friday's gallery walk. She and Lincoln will be there with more Italy pictures, new work, and good cheese.