Summer Internship at Dallas Glass Art!
My name is Olivia Sisson, and this summer I had the pleasure of interning at Dallas Glass Art. I’m a studio art and geology double major at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Last winter, I was eager to find something exciting and interesting to fill my upcoming summer. I wanted to get involved in the art world in any way possible.
First, I looked at museum and gallery internships but found that many of these positions didn’t involve direct interaction with the art. What drives my study of art is the link it requires between creativity, idea, planning, and execution. I enjoy being within the studio space, and being surrounded by the energy supplied by the individuals who inhabit the space, and the art that they make. I wanted to find a way to continue working in a studio this summer, but away from my familiar university studio. I talked to friends and family to see if they had any ideas. Very quickly I came across DGA.
After learning about DGA, I wanted to find out more about their work in the Dallas Design District. I made a few connections and was able to get in touch with Carlyn Ray, owner of DGA. Although I didn’t have any experience with glass, Carlyn was willing to bring me on as an intern. I also heard great things about the Design District from my fellow art majors, and Texan friends. The opportunity to be around a new medium, hot glass, was intriguing to me. I booked a ticket to Dallas and was excited to check out a brand new city!
- Making a bubble bowl during a lesson with Clay.
- Working with a paddle to shape a cup.
- Finishing the bubble bowl.
When I got to DGA I wasn’t sure what to expect. I quickly learned that working within a large public studio is both exciting and demanding, and requires attention to detail, and flexibility. I jumped right in and started to get familiar with the studio space and day to day activities. The goal of one of my main DGA projects was to create a way to keep track of production on blow days. I designed a system to record time spent on each project, quantity of pieces made, and color usage. With this information Carlyn is better able to assess the production costs of her installations. I was able to be more thoughtful in making this system as I learned about the way the hot shop works.
During my first week I had the chance to help run doors while Carlyn and Clay created beautiful bowls and vases for Carlyn Ray Designs. I love how glass blowing requires a great amount of communication. From watching one another’s body language to speaking concisely throughout, the process takes on a dance- like rhythm. The blow team moves about the studio, and one another, in a fast yet measured manner. In many ways, glass blowing reminds me of my lacrosse team and the way that we move with, and around, one another to score. This was a total departure from the completely independent studio work I am so used to doing at school. I enjoyed working in the hot shop at any opportunity and plan to continue learning more about the glass blowing process.
- Stretching out the glass flower’s stem.
- Reheating the glass.
- Shaping the glass flower’s petals.
My favorite aspect of this internship was the variety of tasks I was assigned. I was challenged to integrate myself into the studio on blow days, to think managerially when designing new checklists and record sheets, and to use my design knowledge as I worked on the website and marketing projects. I loved getting to know the amazing DGA staff and learning about their experiences in the art world and beyond. I’m sad to leave DGA and the great city of Dallas, but it was a fantastic experience all around. Thank you so much to Carlyn Ray and all of the great people who work and create at DGA!