Win Glassworking Tools in Memory of Elio Quarisa

Win Glassworking Tools in Memory of Elio Quarisa

Elio Quarisa and Roberto Dona

Maestro Elio Quarisa worked for years at the finest glass factories in Murano. In his "retirement," he taught glass at schools throughout the world. A well-loved instructor at The Studio, Elio inspired hundreds of artists through his works and instruction. After his death in 2010, a scholarship fund was created by Elio's friends and students to support furnace glassworkers who shared his passion for Venetian glassblowing.

In Elio's memory, Roberto Donà, proprieter of Carlo Donà, maker of fine Venetian glassworking %%tools%% and important friend of Elio, has generously donated a set of 14 %%tools%% to The Studio to be presented to an artist who learned from, or was inspired by, Elio. These %%tools%% will help an artist continue Elio's tradition of Venetian glassblowing.

Those interested in participating may submit one entry with their personal information, a statement about how they were influenced by Elio (either in person or by his work), and up to three images of their own work. The images and statements may be added to this page below. The deadline for submissions is December 1st.  Submissions will be reviewed shortly thereafter and the %%tools%% will be presented to the chosen winner.

Special thanks to Roberto Donà for making and donating these %%tools%% in Elio's memory.

Entry to the contest is now closed. View some submissions below, or to see all of the submissions, visit the Remembering Elio page on Flickr.

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Submissions

Jonathan Yao
Jonathan Yao
Murano is miserable in July, but I would choose no other place to have spent it back in 2005. This is where I met Elio for the first time, taking a goblet class from him at La Scuola del Vetro Abate Zanetti. It is said that the true skill of a craftsperson is that they are able to make very difficult techniques look effortless. In that respect, Elio was Mr. Cool. He was a glassblowing version of The Fonz. If things broke or went wrong, it only took a couple of bits or a visit to the garage for him to fix it. Elio created an environment where everyone was welcome to gather around his bench and soak up the decades of experience he was so eager to share. Goblets can be very intimidating objects to make, yet he finessed them into being with an ease and familiarity that was inspirational to all, and made the techniques actually seem approachable. This was one of the great advantages he had as a teacher. It encouraged all of us in his class to push ourselves and tackle techniques that were probably a little over our heads at the time. Up to that point, I had never learned so much in such a small amount of time. This was the moment that took my material understanding of glass to the next level and has inspired my art making ever since. I returned from Italy refreshed, inspired, and ready to make the most of my last semester at San Francisco State University. I began incorporating traditional goblet making techniques in my conceptual art practice, usually in non-traditional forms. Taking a variety of influences from my experience in Italy (Baroque and Rococo reliquaries, Muranese glass-making tradition, the tourist economy, monuments and landmarks, and Venice itself), I created delicate works dealing with issues of history, religion, material, imprisonment, celebration, and decay. Although my experiences with Elio were brief, few, and far between, he has played a huge role in shaping my approach to glass object making and my artistic practice. I will always be grateful for having spent those two weeks in Murano with him.
Jussi Sistonen-Lonnroth
Jussi Sistonen-Lonnroth
Jussi Sistonen-Lonnroth
When I started glass blowing in February 2012 I had no idea what to expect from glass as a material or glass artist community around it. World of glass was totally new thing for me. Only thing I knew when looking delicate and beautiful goblets in Rakow library books or CMoG showcases while visiting there first time was pure overwhelming appreciation on solid craftsmanship that could produce something so astonishing beautiful. After spending several sessions in Hot glass show watching that magic when glass change form and shape by gaffers effortless commands made me try glass blowing. I had dreamed one day making my own perfect wine glasses and when entering my first glass blowing class I realized while struggling with first bubbles and tumblers how far away that idea was from reality and how much hard work and practice it would require. Somehow achieving didn’t feel important I just kept enjoying learning working with glass and sharing same passion with other people in glass community. While spending more time practising and taking more glass blowing classes that wineglass dream stayed alive and while following this path I had stepped on when starting glass blowing I don’t know where it will lead me but these first steps has felt right ones. Quite often during my short career with glass blowing I have returned to watch those beautiful goblets and other pieces in CmoG showcaes and Rakow library books and only lately I have noticed that those goblets I have liked most were made by Elio Quarisa. His colour usage proportions between different elements and general form language has been affecting my thinking about goblets and glass vessels and they form and function. Maybe someday I can do those perfect wine glasses I have dreamed about.
Lee Harris - "Homage to Elio"
Elio inspired me as a person, to accept life as it is, to love people. He taught me to that when I am blessed to work in glass...to enjoy the moment, to listen to the glass. By example-the importance of body posture..."Lee, Elegante, Relax"! I miss, but will always picture his reassuring smile-his joy of sharing food, art, life! Ciao, Elio!
Marc Barreda
Marc Barreda
Marc Barreda
I walked into the shop and was confronted by a great man, beaming. The twinkle in his eye glistened more crisply than the glint from the gold chain around his wrist. Both were there for a purpose, and that purpose was associated with the material glass. He told me he was given that bracelet when he retired from the factory. That memento marked a stopping point but not an end. Elio shared without end. He pulled his bench right up to the glory hole with just enough room for him to fit; stand up, sit down. His great hands commanding the glass with the delicacy of a surgeon; the grace and dexterity of an entire orchestra. He shared a tradition to so many of us. His actions took the oeuvre of Venetian glass and opened it up. He shared the process exactly as it has been practiced for hundreds of years. And then he deconstructed it, reversed it, and scrambled it. He showed us a thousand ways to achieve the same end with precision and intention. His descriptive gestures, his simple words gave light to subtlety, to detail. A lifetime of refinement distilled into every moment. I took two classes with Elio. Each time a community surrounded him. A community I recognized in the hunger that we shared. Wide-eyed and eager we were all there to gain knowledge and comradery. Elio was an endless resource for both as he filled long days with answers and questions, exploring knowledge and interaction through practice as a lifestyle. I’ve been interested in the glass from the Venetian tradition since I started working with the material. Elio cemented my experiences together unifying history, tradition, and craftsmanship with personality and sent me on a path that has helped define my career as a glassmaker and an artist. A master is identified by his perception and ability with a material and its process. He is also defined by his role in relationship to his counterpart: the pupil or apprentice. Our master, Elio Quarisa, was human and yet his perception superceded ours. He could see into the material as he could into people in ways that I have yet to learn. He continues to challenge me and to teach me to surpass my limitations. Grazie Maestro.
Matthew Urban
Matthew Urban
Matthew Urban
The first time I watched Elio work was on the island of San Servolo outside Venice in 2001. I was taking a class there and Elio came in one afternoon to do a demo. He worked up a large dragon stem goblet, reheating in the furnace, he knocked it out quick and easy, I was hooked. I was able to take my first class with Elio the following winter 2002 at the Studio. It was Elio's first class at Corning and we had a good group of students. Elio's first demo right out of the gate was the Guggenhiem cup with an assistant who did not speak Italian and Elio spoke very little if any English at that time. Now you can see that on youtube, nobody was making them then, and especially not in a workshop situation. The students and I in that class were picking out, from books, what we thought were the most difficult cups to make and Elio was making them like he ran production on them all. When the five day class was over I had seen so much my head was spinning. Up to this point I had taken workshops and mostly instructors would work in the comfort zone of their product line. Murano was Elio's production line, and it was with ease he would transition from old Salviati designs to Venini and Barovier and Toso designs. All you needed to do was open a book and point or do a chalk drawing on the floor and he was off to show you how it is done. I had taken numerous classes with Elio at the Studio always telling myself it was the last one, and he would always have profoundly new information from solving problems to different ways of assembly, to color application you name it, and that keep me coming back. One class that I took on incalmo, I wanted to make these Venini bottles so Elio made one in class. I tried it that evening failed miserably, I showed him what I had done the next day. He looked at me scratched his chin and proceeded to make the exact same bottle completely backwards from the way he had made it the day before and made the same object .This is when I realized Elio literally knew glassmaking backwards and forwards. Elio started in the factory while there were still wood burning furnaces on the island he watched the old masters, and I believe he worked to emulate the way they worked. What I mean is very little blocking and marvering, most work was made straight out of the furnace. He distilled the process down to the essence where it became a simple dialogue back and forth between he and the glass. I was fortunate enough to take five classes with Elio at the Studio and to assist him nine times in schools and studios across the midwest. The efficiency that Elio has taught me continues to inform my studio practice and enables my studio to survive. I still hear Elio's voice when I am at the bench guiding and reminding me of the tradition that was so much a part of him. I always realized and valued the time I had working with Elio Quarisa, it was for me, a real gift.
Nicholas "Skitch Manion
Nicholas "Skitch" Manion
Nicholas "Skitch" Manion
Eilo was a true teacher whom taught me more then just traditional glassmaking techniques. He was able to show his students that there was more than just skill in glass, that there was also a lifestyle and a way of thinking around glass. He was able to teach how to plan your process out in your head and work through your methodology. Seeing how he breaks down the process in making his cups in his head, has been priceless. I was able to take this knowledge that he gave me, and apply it to any technique in glass. He changed my way of thinking about glass, and that through the proper thought process, it is possible to teach yourself how to make anything. He showed his students that even when making complicated pieces like a Reticello goblet, chandelier parts or even a recreation of work he made 35 years ago, that learning to control your stress was important. This is something that many glass teachers struggle to get across. Very few have been able to. Elio was one of the only people who taught this well. Before Elio came into my life, I struggled making things because my emotions got in the way. He taught me how to work past that. I helped him make some of his last cups he ever made. I do not usually consider myself a goblet maker, but as a glass blower, I was able to recognize that he was a true Venetian glass Maestro. Traditional glass blowing in Venice is team process. He showed me how to work in a team, whether its with someone you have never meet before, or someone you have been working with for 10 years. The tools that Elio taught were ones that most people are unable to because of his intense amount of experience. The lessons that I learned from him are not just ones to be used in the studio, but in my entire life.
Nikolaj Christensen
Elio Quarisa actually had an impact on our studio long before it was even in existence; truth be told, he was an integral part of how it came to be. The story begins in 2004 when Jon Goldberg, the eventual founder of East Falls Glassworks, Philadelphia's only public access studio, took Elio's class at Corning. Jon had gotten interested in glass about 5 years earlier and it was during Elio's class that he learned not just about how a true maestro creates those venerable old venetian goblets, but also about the great joys of teaching. It was through experiencing Elio's enthusiasm firsthand that the idea was planted for starting a teaching facility in Philadelphia. Before long, this idea became East Falls Glassworks, the shop which I have managed for almost 5 years. In that time, we have had the pleasure of Elio leading two masterclasses (as the first guest instructor the studio had shortly after its opening in 2006 and again in 2009) and it was with much sadness that we posted the news of Elio's passing 2 years ago to the month. Needless to say, he made a lot of friends through sharing his expertise with students who still, in turn, share stories about the man. I have a couple of my own (and an autographed t-shirt to go with a particular story that I will always remember as long as I remain a glassblower) and we are proud to host a couple pages on the website that honor his memory (www.eastfallsglass.com/elio.php), as well as showcase examples of his work in our office on permanent display. I am writing to request consideration for the set of tools that Mr. Dona has created and generously donated, not directly for myself, but on behalf of the East Falls Glassworks and it's students, to whom the tools will be made available. There are certainly other professionals who are more worthy, if measured on technical merit alone, than the students who come through our doors and struggle with avolios, blown feet, various bits, and all the other difficult aspects of goblet making... however, I can guarantee these tools will be well used and will keep alive the spirit of a man who most enjoyed seeing talent as it was developing (not to mention a good joke). We have a host of great pictures of Elio Quarisa in action, but the picture I'd like to include is the one that has ended the slideshow on our website homepage for years. This is one that, I think, really captures the nature of the man.
Pat Frost
Pat Frost
Pat Frost
Working with Elio was a incredible privilege. There is no other glass maker that I know of that had the same passion for the material, I remember hearing Elio say how glass was magic and he really believed that was true. His years of experience made for an vast understanding of the glass making process. And the way that he worked with the glass was very natural and wonderful to watch. All who have had the experience to truly study with Elio have came away with a new understanding of how to blow glass. Everyday in the shop there were moments which dramatically changed your way of thinking about glass. Many glass makers with such knowledge would keep their tricks closely guarded secrets. Elio embraced the idea of sharing his love and knowledge for glass. He proved that sharing is the only way to keep the traditions alive and to advance the progress of glass as an art form. For me I also learned many other lessons that were important for the Maestro. The importance of hard work, drawing, study, being a gentleman, and believing in the magic. Although I greatly miss Elio I still feel that he is with us every day that we work, and the short time in our lives that overlapped made a great deal of difference in my future. He has given fueled my ambitions, designs, and proven that there are no boundaries. These lessons stay with me and give me the courage to pursue glass with the faith that if I can make Elio proud of what I create, and remember his lessons about life, that success will surely follow.
Robert Comploj
Elio was a fun guy! Especially when I was flying with him back to Europe. He wanted to come to Austria for teaching but only when i serve him good food! That was the most important thing for him :) GOOD FOOD! Also important for him was a good drink. When I took his 2 week class, sometimes we went out for dinner and he always had to have his "Dr Pepper" drink. He loved it! The best thing was, in the States u can drink as much as u can and you only had to pay once!! WE LOVED IT. He showed me HOW to blow glass Gathering glass with a cold pipe and than make a goblet out of it :) Gathering glass - when there was a bubble in it - throw it back in the furnace and at the same time gather new glass. It was fantastic! We miss you Elio! Thank you for all the fun!!! :)