Upper Arlington News

25th year in central Ohio

Book details Glass Axis' 'trip' from fire truck to institution

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

For a quarter-century, the Glass Axis studio has been a focal point for the glass studio art movement in Columbus.

On the heels of celebrating its 25th anniversary last year, the studio commissioned a book that will tell the story of Glass Axis and the growth of glass art in words and images.

Glass Axis: 25 Years in the History of Columbus Community Art Glass is being written by OSU art professor and Glass Axis founder Richard Harned, and Kelly Stevelt, senior director of development at the American Alliance of Museums in Washington, D.C.

Stevelt is former vice president of the Glass Axis board of trustees.

Harned is an Upper Arlington resident.

"We started Glass Axis mainly because we were trying to figure out how to exhibit the work people were creating," Harned said. "But we also needed a place where people could work."

The studio opened in 1987 in what is now the Arena District as a portable glass-blowing studio, he said.

"It was an old fire truck to which we added a glass furnace so we could do demonstrations," Harned said.

As a vehicle to take to schools and events for demonstrations, the portable studio worked fine, he said. It was less than desirable as a working space for glass artists.

Glass Axis moved into a portion of the Belmont Casket Co. across from the old site of the Ohio Penitentiary, and later to its present location at 1341-B Norton Ave.

The current location offers more than 10,000 feet of studio and exhibit space.

"Twenty-five years is a long time and a lot has happened in that time in the glass art field," Harned said. "The equipment has gotten better, so you can make a lot of things now that you couldn't in the old days."

The market for glass art also has boomed, he said.

"People really have an interest now in purchasing glass," Harned said. "Dale Chihuly is practically a household name."

It's been "fun -- a real trip" to reflect on Glass Axis' history while researching for the book, he said.

"I've really enjoyed contacting the people, some of whom moved away from Columbus a long time ago, and finding out what Glass Axis has meant to them," Harned said.

Harned said he and Stevelt are in the process of writing the book, which will be released in December.

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