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"Flora Cut" | Engraved Glass | 11.5 x 5 x 5 inches | 2017

Illuminations: Ones to watch

Highlighting the work of glass artist Ethan Stern

Written by Michele Corriel  

Michele Corriel

Other Contributions

Synchronicity A Voice in Stone Equus The Archie Bray Foundation Ones to Watch: Artist Jinni Thomas Ones to Watch: Artist Karen Bezuidenhout Ones to Watch: Rory Egelus Ones to Watch: Ceramic Artist George McCauley Ones to Watch: Painter Rick Stevens Ones to Watch: Jon Dick Ones to Watch: Mixed-media Artist Christopher Owen Nelson Ones to Watch: Diana Tremaine Ones to Watch: Josh Elliot Ones to Watch: Doug Smith Ones to Watch: David Barrett Ones to Watch: Howard Knight Ones to Watch: Silas Thompson Ones to Watch: Kristine Allphin Ones to Watch: Chris Morel Ones to Watch: Sherry Salari Sander Ones to Watch: Alan Carr Ones to Watch: Robert Royhl Ones to Watch: Robert Seliger Ones to Watch: Karen Woods Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: Artist Glendon Good Ones to Watch: Painter Deladier Almeida Ones to Watch: Sculptor Stephanie Revennaugh Ones to Watch: Painter Gregory Packard Ones to Watch: Randy Stromsoe Ones to Watch: Beth Loftin Ones to Watch: Dyani White Hawk Ones to Watch: David Bardwick Ones to Watch: Donna Gans Ones to Watch: Susan Jarecky Ones to Watch: Carrie Fell Ones to Watch: Rose Masterpol Ones to Watch: Bryan Peterson Ones to Watch: Terry Karson Ones to Watch: Lisa Ronay Ones to Watch: Tracy Leagjeld Perspective: Gennie DeWeese [1921-2007] Ones to Watch: Andrew Mann Ones to Watch: Bonnie Teitelbaum Illuminations: Ones to watch Perspective: Frances Senska [1914–2009] Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: Artist Ralph Wiegmann Ones to Watch: Artchitect Candace Miller Ones to Watch: Architect George Gibson Ones to Watch: Architect Nick Deaver Ones to Watch: Sculptor Bale Creek Allen Ones to Watch: Painter Brianne Janes Ones to Watch: Danae Bennett Miller Ones to Watch: Mark Edward Adams Ones to Watch: Josh Chandler Ones to Watch: Tony Abeyta Ones to Watch: Robert Spooner Marcus Ones to Watch: Ken Andrews Ones to Watch: Michael Kessler Ones to Watch: Jim Dayton Ones to Watch: Rahnee Gladwin Ones to Watch: Geoffrey Warner Ones to Watch: Gwen Samuels Ones to Watch: Kensuke Yamada Ones to Watch: Michael Greenspan Ones to Watch: Chuck Middlekauff Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: Sculptor Carol Alleman Ones to Watch: Artist Kathleen Dunphy Ones to Watch: Jeweler Jesse Monongye Ones to Watch: Michael Ross Ones to Watch: Furniture maker Charise Buckley Ones to Watch: Sculptor Charles Ringer Ones to Watch: David Slonim Ones to Watch: Catherine Courtenaye Ones to Watch: Ironworker Ted Docteur Ones to Watch: Evert Sodergren Ones to Watch: Jacquelyn Bischak Ones to Watch: Guilloume Ones to Watch: David Coffin Ones to Watch: Francis Di Fronzo Ones to Watch: Jeff Pugh Ones to Watch: Geoff Parker Ones to Watch: Troy Collins Ones to Watch: Dean Mabe Ones to Watch: Shelley Muzylowski Allen Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: Architect Tim Belton Ones to Watch: Anne Moore Ones to Watch: Painter Flavia Eckholm Ones to Watch: Clive Tyler Ones to Watch: Weaver Cheryl Samuel Ones to Watch: Painter Gavin Brooks Ones to Watch: Tracy Leagjeld Ones to Watch: Jared Sanders Ones to Watch: Shawna Moore Ones to Watch: Aleta Pippin Ones to Watch: Rene Gibson Ones to Wacth Ones to Watch: Mike Krupnick Ones to Watch: Matt Smith Ones to Watch: Stacy Robinson Ones to Watch: Dean L. Mitchell Ones to Watch: Kirsten Kainz Ones to Watch: Susan von Borstel Ones to Watch: Craig Bergsgaard Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: La Puerta Originals Ones to Watch: Artist David Patchen Ones to Watch: Architect Aaron Kang-Crosby of Spore Architecture Ones to Watch: Frank Marquette Ones to Watch: Architect Susan Desko Ones to Watch: Sculptor Tammy Bality Ones to Watch: Suzanne Wallace Mears Ones to Watch: Clare Walton Ones to Watch: Mike Medow Ones to Watch: Leon Loughridge Ones to Watch: Eric Cobb Ones to Watch: Greg Madeen Ones to Watch: Mary Baxter Ones to Watch: Julia Lucich Ones to Watch: Kevin and Val Pourier Ones to Watch: Marc Hanson Ones to Watch: Preston Singletary Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: Artist Allen Garns Ones to Watch: Jill Zeidler Ones to Watch: Painter Luke Stavrowsky Ones to Watch: Bill Poss Ones to Watch: Britt Freda Ones to Watch: Painter Cesar Santos Ones to Watch: Troy Collins Ones to Watch: Bryan Christiansen Ones to Watch: Henry Jackson Ones to Watch: Simon Gudgeon Ones to Watch: Gordon McConnell Ones to Watch: Hadley Rampton Ones to Watch: Olivia Pendergast Ones to Watch: Kevin DesPlanques Ones to Watch: Jamie Kirkland Ones to Watch: Brian Scott Ones to Watch: Kyle Polzin Ones to Watch: Ben Pease Ones to Watch: Julie Gustafson Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Ones to Watch: Artist Linda Elliott Ones to Watch: Deborah Berniklau Ones to Watch: Painter Denise Lemaster Ones to Watch: Architect Erik Peterson Ones to Watch: D. LaRue Mahlke Ones to Watch: Artist Crista Ann Ames Ones to Watch: Christopher Ries Ones to Watch: Mary Bechtol In the Studio: Richard Parish Ones to Watch: Florian Roeper Ones to Watch: Greg Kelsey Ones to Watch: Andrew Denman Ones to Watch: Sandra Pratt Ones to Watch: Jeff Williams Ones to Watch: Josh Clare Ones to Watch: Daniel Weaver Ones to Watch: Nora Naranjo-Morse Ones to Watch: Marela Zacarías Ones to Watch: Glenn Dean Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to Watch Illuminations: Ones to watch Collector’s Eye: Native American folk art collector Bruce VanLandingham
December 2017 | January 2018


Ethan Stern uses glass — hot and molten, cold and cut — as a conveyor of light. Luminous and jewel-like, the objects he creates redefine traditional purposes. By engraving on the glass, Stern speaks to a long history of industrial cut glass but adds to the chorus a voice of individuality and homage to the nature of the glass itself.

“The way I think about my work is connected to the process of working with glass,” Stern says. Starting out as a ceramicist, he discovered glass while in art school. Although the processes are polar opposites, Stern eventually found he loved working with cold glass: cutting, engraving and carving the material after the glass is formed. However, that did not deter him from perfecting the technical aspects of hot glass formation. “In the beginning it was more experimental — trying to figure out ways to affect the surface directly, in the way I approached clay, to get my own voice in the glass. Liquid, molten material, with characteristics that are inherently beautiful. I wanted to try to change the approach to glass and redefine what beautiful can be in that material.”

Stern started by approaching the material in its rawest sense, but soon developed his own style, leaning more toward a clean, minimalist feeling. “Which is what glass does very well,” he says. “For a while, I wanted to mask that, but I’ve been embracing the gem-like quality of the material.”

Stern’s first step is to blow the glass and then shape it, turning the molten material into a solid object. He studied the Italian style of glass blowing as well as the Scandinavian and Czech, or Bohemian, style. He took what he liked from each discipline to create his own techniques.

“During the blowing process, I shape the glass on a flat surface with cork paddles, sculpting the shape,” he says. “The way I’m pushing the bubble around allows me to get a specific profile. I’ve worked to develop a technique without using a mold. Glass likes to be round, it doesn’t like square corners, and a lot of my pieces have square edges as well as corners.”

After the glass is blown, he brings it into his cold shop to refine it even further. “A lot of the equipment I use to cut the glass came from glass factories that are gone now,” he says. “There’s some history in the tools I use that connects me to an industrial history.”

When Stern inherited a small collection of cut glass from his grandmother, he became enamored by it. But instead of recreating those types of vessels, his work took on a new direction. Seeing the similarities of what came out of the old factories, he was inspired to create his own one-of-a-kind sculptural pieces.

“I have this freedom to make every piece different and do what inspires me at that moment,” he says. “Right now, I’m interested in architecture and functional design. Originally I wanted to be a functional potter, and I looked at functional objects in the traditional way: form follows function. So the vessel is a foundational element of my work, although most of my work isn’t functional. I’ve described them as containers for light. I’m trying to capture volume and transparency, trying to sculpt light with the glass.”

Stern’s work is represented by the Traver Gallery in Seattle, Washington; Schantz Gallery in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Hawk Galleries in Columbus, Ohio; and the Sandra Ainsley Gallery in Toronto, Canada. Stern’s show, Clear Cut, at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, will run through the end of January.

"Crosscut Angle" (above, detail to right) | Engraved Glass | 8.5 x 14 x 3 inches | 2016

"Cutclear Perspective" | Engraved Glass | 20 x 12.5 x 4 inches | 2017

Photo: Spider OQ