You can see the delicate work resulting from the collaboration between glass artists Laurie Thal and Dan Altwies at the Fall Arts Festival’s Takin’ It to the Streets art fair. They will be selling hand-blown martini glasses, bud vases, perfume bottles and wine goblets at their booth there.
But Thal and Altwies will be holding back their most impressive pieces, like large hand-blown and -sandblasted bowls.
“With the crowds and the weather we just can’t risk them” at Taking’ It To the Streets, said Thal, an Art Institute of Chicago graduate who now has pieces in museums and collections around the world.
Don’t worry about missing the pair’s best work, though: The day before Takin’ It to the Streets they will host an open studio. and during the rest of the Fall Arts Festival you’re welcome to make an appointment to visit the studio.
“To see our best pieces, come Saturday or make an appointment,” Thal said.
The open studio will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.
Thal hosts open studios several times throughout the year. And in the winter she invites groups to the studio and coaches people as they make their own glass ornaments.
“I like giving people the opportunity to see where we make the magic happen,” she said. “I really look forward to the kind of visitor that comes in September, though, because they’re so focused on the arts.”
Thal’s studio, which she built in 1988, is just off Teton Village Road in a bucolic setting on the Snake River.
“It’s a relaxed, beautiful atmosphere where you can see the whole variety of work we do and we can show you the sandblasting equipment and the fusing kilns and really explain how things are made,” she said.
And you can see the level of work that earned Thal and Altwies the Top Glass Artist award at the 2016 Scottsdale Arts Festival and earlier got Thal into one of the country’s most prestigious craft shows, the Smithsonian Craft Show.
“Winter’s Bloom has been my favorite [piece] so far,” said Altwies, who, in addition to being a glass artist is a graphic artist and has designed album covers.
Winter’s Bloom, a bowl measuring 8 by 20 inches, was one of the last pieces to come out of this year’s winter-spring blowing session.
“Laurie and I had been discussing for a while making some white bowls,” Altwies said. “I knew it as soon as she blew it what I was going to do with it. It is one of the most complicated edges I’ve ever sandblasted.”
Thal and Altwies say they sit down with each piece after it’s been blown to talk about how he might sandblast it.
“It’s usually very obvious what designs a piece wants,” Altwies said.
He then spends more than 80 hours drawing and sandblasting. He starts by hand-drawing the design on rubberized vinyl that protects the glass form. The design drawn, he then uses an X-Acto blade to cut out around the design. “When I pull the vinyl material off, that’s where I sandblast,” he said.
Although Altwies often returns to designs like aspen leaves and flowers, every piece is unique.
“I want every [collector] to have a one-of-a-kind piece,” he says.
To make an appointment call 307-690-2491 or email email@example.com. Thal’s studio is on Linn Road. Coming from Highway 22, turn right onto Linn and then follow the signs. Her website is ThalGlass.com