Visiting Artist Program

The Visiting Artist Program brings artists of international acclaim to the Southwest Michigan area, offering community members a chance to learn from critically acclaimed glass artists.

2014 Visiting Artists

Petra Kaiser - October 3 to October 5 And Introduction to Mold Making with Kaiser-Lee Board

Petra Kaiser has taught workshops all over the United States and abroad, you may know her from her popular books, Introduction to Glass Fusing, Fuse It and Glass Forming with the Mold Block System. She specializes in the creating and developing of new forms and products. One of the latest and most challenging techniques is the combination of cast glass elements and fairly thin glass - only 1 to 2 layers thick. Petra will share her ideas and techniques that she has discovered over the past 15 years of kiln forming glass via slide show, samples of her exquisite art work and demonstrations. Click Here for more information!

2013 Visiting Artists

Sharon Peters-Oct. 18, 19, 20, 2013 Bead Making Workshop & Presentation

Sharon has a degree in studio art from the University of California. She played with printmaking, etching, drawing, painting, fused and stained glass, clay, and multiple assorted crafts before discovering flame worked glass. She first melted glass on a torch in March 1996 and found her perfect art form, playing with flame. She’s hooked on sculptural and pictorial designs. Sharon’s ideas come from everywhere and she believes that "Creativity" is a resource that can be found, if you just look for it. Hotglass Improv is her favorite tool, and it’s helped her to continue growing as an artist and technician, and often produces some pretty interesting designs. Sharon has been teaching in the U.S. and Europe since 1998, and her work has been featured in numerous publications, most recently The Masters: Glass Beads.

Check out her work at www.smartassglass.com.

And a little word from the artist!

"Hi!   I'm Sharon and I’ve been making handmade Flameworked glass beads since April 1996, and boy, was THAT a class!  The second I lit the torch, turned on the oxygen and the yellow flame turned blue, I was hooked forever.  You've gotta try it, better than chocolate!  

I use Effetre glass imported from Italy, a couple of different kinds of surface mix oxygen  propane torches (mostly the Nortel Minor Bench Burner and the Bethlehem Starfire ), and a computer controlled annealing kiln. 

It’s way too much fun, melting glass and building up beads from the inside out, and burning hair & assorted body parts (sometime you might want to ask me about the Amazing Day Of 15 Burns...)

My beads are bright and silly, with eyeballs, bellybuttons, butts, and stupid grins. They all have names, many with rancid puns. I usually come up with the name/pun first, and then mess around till I finally have a bead to go with it.  

Chris Nordin, Master Glass Artist

Chris Nordin taught a sold out workshop at West Michigan Glass Art Center on April 26, 27, and 28, 2013. Chris has 25 years of glassblowing experience from the early days at the College of Creative Studies to years of workshops at Haystack, Pilchuck and Penland. Current day will find Chris making private sculptures and perfecting his goblet style in his studio under the Glass Academy company.

2011 Visiting Artists

In 2011 we had the pleasure of offering workshops by Emilio Santini and Margaret Zinser.  Below is some information regarding these exquisite flameworking artists and the workshops we offered.  We look forward to new visiting artists in the future.

Emilio Santini

Emilio returns to WMGAC. Born in Murano, Italy into a noble family with over 500 years of glass blowing tradition, he spent six summers working in a glass factory under several different glass masters. When he turned seventeen, his father began teaching him lampworking. He teaches in this country’s major glass schools and is represented internationally by some of the most important galleries in the world. His art is featured in numerous private and museum collections.

 3-Day “Goblet Making—Cups and Feet for Venetian Goblets at the Torch”
Prerequisite: One year glassmaking experience recommended. This class will cover the making of a Venetian goblet from how to blow a straight bubble to the final step of opening cup and foot to assembling them with a Venetian stem or a figure as the stem. Lip wrap application, correct use of jacks, preparing the proper bubble for the foot and all the other tricks needed for the execution of a Venetian goblet will be shown.

Margaret Zinser


Margaret Zinser lives in Tucson, Arizona and has worked with glass since 2001. In 2004, she completed her Master's degree in Entomology which is certainly apparent in her insect-themed beads. The technique and chemistry of working with glass feed Margaret's scientific side while the freedom of working with a molten medium nourishes her creative soul. Margaret serves on the Board of Directors of Sonoran Glass Art Academy and Beads of Courage. Her work has been featured in galleries throughout the US, Canada and Japan and in several magazines, including The Flow, Bead and Button, and Bead Unique.

1-Day "Focus on Color" Workshop
Prerequisite: Previous flame work experience working on a mandrel
    This class is geared for beadmakers desiring to learn more about "reactive" colors in soft glass. Topics include: Italian soft glass colors with Reichenbach and Kugler frits and cane, and using sliver leaf and foil to create texture.

2-Day "Beetles and the Butterflies" Workshop
Prerequisite: Previous flame of flat glass experience.
    Sculpt insect-inspired base beads in the flame: beetles, off-mandrel butterfly wings and beads. After creating sculptural base beads, Margaret will share strategies for mixing, layering, fading stippling vitreous enamel paints covered detail and color. Methods for mixing and firing enamels after painting will be covered. Learning enamel painting opens up your bead making to a whole new world of detail and color?