Foreground: a kiln-formed test panel filled with krypton; 
Background: a flame-worked sculpture filled with neon, 
by M. Ditzler

Neon Glass Sculpture at Pilchuck Glass School

This August I had the opportunity to take a class at Pilchuck Glass School with Dr. Wayne Strattman. Wayne is a master of plasma neon glass sculpture.  He has created many large scale installations for museums and Hollywood.  Please visit his website to see his work.  It is not traditional neon sculpture…

Foreground: a kiln-formed test panel filled with krypton;  Background: a flame-worked sculpture filled with neon,  by M. Ditzler
Foreground: a kiln-formed test panel filled with krypton;
Background: a flame-worked sculpture filled with neon,
by M. Ditzler

The process of creating gas-filled glass sculptures involves using borosilicate glass tubing and shaping it with handheld or bench-top torches. The difficult part involves welding pieces of tubing together, and making a good enough seal that it will hold a vacuum. Once you can accomplish that, it is possible to begin implementing your design ideas.

For two and a half weeks we practiced assembling our glass sculptures and filling them with gas. With Wayne’s guidance we used different types of gas, phosphor coatings, nichrome wire, and sandblast engraving to alter the color or appearance of the discharge inside the neon glass sculpture.

My future work will involve making kiln-formed panels and filling them with neon. It’s something I did in 1998 with James Nowak, and have not done any since then. Thanks to Wayne I’m much better equipped for success than I was back then!


I’m teaching two Winter classes at The Studio – now enrolling!

Thicker Sculptural Fused Glass – Session 3, Jan 19 to 24

From the Kiln to the Hot Shop (and Back Again) – Session 4, Jan. 26 to 31

It’s time for my annual “winter wonderland” experience at the Corning Museum of Glass – I actually enjoy the weather! Below are answers to questions one student had about the Thicker Fused Glass class. Please also visit the Corning website for more information:

Everything listed in the class description is going to be hands-on for students, except pulling cane (which is a demo). The instructors can pull some murrini for students and possibly a cane or two if people want to do that, but this is not a glass blowing class (my other one is). However, there will be many opportunities to make pattern bar murrini in the kiln, including a cool “book-match” technique that I invented called “contour color bars.”

There isn’t enough time for each student to make their own silk-screen stencil from scratch, but I do bring a few screens that are already made and let everyone try to print with the enamels. Everyone gets a chance to try etching dichro, but we don’t provide unlimited dichro to practice screening with for obvious reasons! You will be limited to the patterns I bring because the demos are intended as a quick “intro” to show students how to use “design elements” inside thicker glass. People with a desire to do more screen printing will probably want to take a class on that. I may do one at Pratt Fine Arts soon, but it isn’t scheduled yet.Rockfish.Small.File

For this class, casting into plaster-silica molds and using different mold dams are the primary techniques we’ll be learning. I’ll demo rubber positives, and students can try to make a small one if they wish. We do have a selection of slumping molds should you want them. The class is designed so folks can try many things quickly while developing their own aesthetic. There should be time at the end for a small student project using these techniques, and possibly a “class project” to leave for the museum.

The agenda is pretty full – I don’t think you will be bored! The Studio is a fantastic facility, and the Museum is hands-down the best glass museum on earth – I’m not exaggerating. I don’t think you will regret attending any class at The Studio!

Please contact me (or The Studio) if you have any further questions.

Visit to Penland School of Crafts

Penland.ceramics.WPOn a beautiful fall day at the beginning of October, I visited Penland School of Crafts in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to discuss the possibility of teaching there.  The school has classes in glass, pottery, woodworking, metals and printmaking.  There is a long tradition of craftsmanship in the area, and there are many studios near by.  The various studios at the school are spread around a nice rural campus.  Some occupy historic buildings, while others are new architecture.  The photo above is the ceramics studio, which has an outdoor hill-climbing wood fired kiln (to the left out of the photo).

We drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get there, through beautiful mountains and fall color.  The setting reminded me of the Pilchuck Glass School, a similarly undisturbed place where students can focus on their work.

Vanilla Panels Detail

Reaching Beyond: Northwest Designer Craftsmen At 60

Reaching Beyond: Northwest Designer Craftsmen At 60
Whatcom Museum- September 14th, 2014 through January 4th, 2015

Reaching Beyond Invite

I’m honored to be included in this show with a number of accomplished artists.  This group puts a high value on craftsmanship, and is the largest organization of professional artists in the NW. The work should be fantastic!

I’ll be showing a pair of Vanilla Wall Panels. These panels are composed of amber and ivory glass, with silver foil accents embedded in the surface. The silver reacts with the glass to create beautiful silver-blue accents for closer enjoyment.  These fused glass art wall panels are attractive in home, health care, and commercial environments.  They feature my signature cane work, made from sheet glass which is heated and pulled in the hot shop.  There are also flame-worked glass elements shown in the photo at bottom.

Vanilla Wall Panels

Vanilla Panels Detail


For more information about the show, click here.

In celebrating 60 years of contributions to the Northwest’s rich cultural landscape, Reaching Beyond celebrate the range of craft – across time, media, methods and borders. See the art of the handmade interpreted with exquisite skill, innovation and dedication through more than 140 works by 90 artists representing clay, glass, wood, metal, fiber and mixed media.Reaching Beyond: Northwest Designer Craftsmen at 60
September 14, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA 98225UPCOMING EXHIBITION RELATED PROGRAMSBrown Bag: Whatcom Artists Studio Tour
September 18, 12:30 PM Lloyd Herman: Craft Into Art
October 5, 2 PM Larry Metcalf on Northwest Designer Craftsmen
October 9, 10 AM Teacher Open House + AHA!: The Art and Science of Craft
October 9, 3-8 PM (Open to the public)

Brown Bag: Artists’ Tour of Reaching Beyond
November 6, 12:30 PM

AHA! After Hours Art: Openwork Basketry Techniques
November 6, 5:30-7:30 PM

“Beyond Technique” interview – fused glass art

This excerpt comes from a video featuring Columbia City Gallery artists in the Beyond Technique show of Spring 2013.  Hear Mark Ditzler explain the glass making techniques he used to create fused glass art pieces for the show.  Also he explains his philosophy towards “technique”, and how it influences what he makes.  Thanks to Noland Willard.

To view the original video, created by Nolan Willard, please click here.

All Blues Diptych

“Blue” – Fused Glass by Mark Ditzler

Blue Show Statement
Columbia City Gallery – June 18th through August 3rd, 2014

When I’m working in my studio the music is always on. Jazz or Blues are preferred because something about the rhythm helps my creative state. Often a lyric, song title or saxophone solo will stimulate a big idea. This body of work is dedicated to the Blues and the musicians who make it. I have attempted to represent rhythm, syncopation and variations on a theme by using pattern and color in the glass. Just like the music, there is apparent randomness, but measured spacing and repetition provide structure. All of my work is kiln-formed or fused glass. Frequently I manipulate multiple layers of glass to control the displacement and transparency of color. I make twisted glass cane in the hot shop or a flame-working torch for accents. Recently, I have begun to use sand-carving to produce raised relief on the surface of the glass, cutting through one layer of color into the layer below. The carved glass is then formed over molds in a multi-step process of careful heating and cooling. The “All Blues” wall panel diptych is a tribute to Miles Davis. “Cast your Fate to the Wind” is inspired by one of my favorite pieces of music by Vince Guaraldi. “Norah” titled for Norah Jones, who seems more floral than rhythmic. And for Joni Mitchell, “Be Cool: 50/50 Fire & Ice”.

All blues diptych Norah

You may see these pieces, and more, at Columbia City Gallery, 4864 Rainier Ave S. Seattle, WA 98118.