New Staff/New Glass
Greetings Members and Staff,
As you know we have had a very busy two weeks with the departure of two staff members and the launching of the MN State Fair. I am happy to the say the mobile hot shop is up and running, and the gallery looks wonderful. The MN State Fair is an enormous effort on the part of our staff and volunteers. Thank you to everyone who reached out to offer to help during this staff transition.
I am pleased to announce that two phenomenal glassworkers from our local community have joined our staff. Emily McBride will join the Foci MCGA staff as our Program Coordinator on September 1. Emily has been a board member at Foci MCGA over the last year and an instructor for the last two. Emily received her MFA from VCU in 2016, and has worked at Pilchuck over 7 summers. Her diverse knowledge of studios and past involvement in our programming will result in new and improved programming for Foci MCGA.
Tom Maras joined our staff this past week as a Studio Technician, and has used his 24 years of experience to hit the ground running. Tom is a long time community member and accomplished glass artist. Tom has been pursuing the glass craft since 1995, after studying glass and ceramics at Moorhead State. Tom owned and operated his private glass studio for ten years and has been widely recognized and awarded for his glass art work. His studio expertise and knowledge of our community will be reflected in future studio improvements at Foci MCGA.
It would be remiss to not recognize the hard work and dedication of our current staff during this moment. Clayton Burns, Studio Technician, was quick to step in and help where needed. With his help and commitment we have been able to get the mobile set up at the fair and maintain normal operations. Al Stege and Derek Hostetler, Discovery Instructors, kept up with the surge of state fair discoveries and continued to provide quality instruction for our discovery patrons. Not to mention our numerous barter members who picked up some extra shifts. Thank you!
We are excited to announce that Foci MCGA is transitioning to a new glass that will offer similar performance to our current glass but superior safety to our studio. Bomma Cullet has been widely tested and reviewed by many field experts. It is compatible with our colors and was formulated to have a long working time, as well as be torch friendly. As our first pot becomes ready this week, please prepare yourself for this new glass. For the month of September we will comp all renters the first half hour of their blow slot to experiment. We hope this will give you an opportunity feel confident working with this new glass. Our knowledgeable staff is available to answer questions and help you make any needed adjustments.
Cullet offers several advantages over batch. Above all, the safety impacts were considered as the dangers and health effects of using glass batch are well known in the industry. While Foci MCGA has improved our safety standards and batching practices, we know that to truly reduce the health impacts to our staff and users that we need to use a silica dust free cullet. By switching to cullet we are also able to reduce our energy consumption and increase pot turnover rates, as cullet glass melts at a lower temperature and takes less time to be usable. We will extend the life of our furnaces as cullet is less corrosive and use less consumables and staff time for furnace charging.
We are excited for what the future of Foci MCGA holds, and believe we are at the edge of a big and exciting change. It is through the continued support of our local glass community that we are able to accomplish these goals and keep glass making available to everyone in Minnesota. Please join us for our Annual Membership meeting on November 4th, 6pm at Foci MCGA's home studio.
Kelly NezworskiExecutive Director