Using walks through the woods as inspiration, Upper Arlington High School students created fused-glass trees adorned with colorful balls of glass as ornaments for the Ohio state tree in the 2013 National Christmas Tree display.
Upper Arlington visual art teachers Alicia McGinty and Mark Nagel were chosen by the governor's office to select art students to join other artists and students from each state to design 24 ornaments for their respective state trees.
A tree from each state, territory and the District of Columbia will be on display in President's Park in Washington, D.C., presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation.
The lighting ceremony for the National Christmas Tree will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6.
"I am excited to be part of this time-honored tradition of being selected as the single group this year to create all of the Ohio ornaments," McGinty said. "I am so proud to be a part of the outstanding arts program we have in Upper Arlington.
"Our student body is filled with artistic talent and we are privileged to have such a supporting community for the arts."
Nagel said he and McGinty were chosen because of their influence with students in the Ohio Governor's Youth Art Exhibition.
"I felt excited and honored for my students and for the community of Upper Arlington," he said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a story many of the students will tell for years to come."
McGinty said the students and teachers brainstormed different aspects of Ohio that they could incorporate in the ornaments.
"We wanted to honor the National Park Service by recognizing the state parks we have here in Ohio," she said.
She said students researched Ohio's state parks and looked at photographs of trees from each park, then designed a tree that was created out of fused glass.
"We chose fused glass for the medium's vibrant colors and its ability to see through to both sides," she said. "I think our ornaments will stand out because most schools in the past have used paint on the inside of plastic globes or inserted small sculptures."
She said students used glass from colored glass sheets, rods, frit (small chunks of glass) and paint to layer on a five-inch circle. As the glass was heated, it melted and softened, allowing it to fuse together without the colors mixing completely.
The finished glass pieces were enclosed in five-inch plastic globes and shipped to Washington, D.C.
McGinty said the ornaments took about two weeks to make and several days to design.
"Rachel Eastwood made a beautiful glass ornament from the perspective of the viewer walking through the woods on a fall day," she said. "The five tree trunks are made from a variety of brown glass stringers embedded in white glass. The tree leaves are made up of warm-colored balls of glass scattered throughout the trees."
She said another student, Kellye McGlumphy, designed glass ornaments that "remind me of the blooming trees lining the streets in Upper Arlington in the spring."
McGinty said 29 students in the Advance Designing with Materials classes created the ornaments.
"I was excited to be able to display our work on a national level," senior Callie Zimmerman said. "It is such a unique experience because people who visit the tree from all over the nation will be able to see my work."
Nagel said his favorite ornaments used "stringer" glass.
"This type of glass can be heated using a candle," he said. "It is 1/32nd of an inch thick and is extremely brittle, but can be used to create spiral and bent shapes that soon morph into trees we all recognize."
McGinty said the most-valuable part of the project was having the students be a part of something "much larger than themselves."
"They are a small part of a large tradition," she said.
Nagel said the ornaments symbolize "tradition, family and hope."
"The greatest honor for any artist is to be free enough to express your thoughts on the world as you see it," he said.
The students who designed and created ornaments are Heidi Beck, Jacob Blankemeyer, Charlotte Campbell, Ann Deibel, Mary Julia Dierker, Erin Eastwood, Rachel Eastwood, Meredith Grilliot, Sophia Henry, Kasey Keegan, Christina Koutras, Demetra Koutras, Ryan Lott, Travis Martin, Taylor McGlade, Kellye McGlumphy, Brigid McKee, Melanie McMillan, Mikayla McVey, Mary Mollmann, Elissa Moore, Sarah Moore, Danielle Rehl, Lea Reisch, Seth Ripley, Kaira Schneider, Caroline Shisler, Ellen West and Callie Zimmerman.