In 1985, Ohio State graduates and staff members who stayed behind to continue making glass art using OSU facilities called themselves “cling-ons.” Now, they are more formally referred to as the founders of Glass Axis — a non-profit glass studio located in central Columbus.
“I took everything (the OSU glass program) taught three times. I would just go to class until they kicked me out,” said Andy Hudson, co-founder of Glass Axis.
Hudson was among the ten OSU students and faculty who created the studio more than 30 years ago. While a lot has changed since then, the non-profit studio still serves as a place for OSU alumni and local artists to continue making art and teaching others to do the same.
“It all began with the stellar glass program at Ohio State,” Bonnie Biggs, one of the founders, said in an email. “Students from the Art Dept. and many other OSU Depts. were taking glass classes and falling in love.”
Glass Axis also teaches the community about glass art through demonstrations and lessons. They have partnered with the Ohio Union, making glass classes sometimes available through the D-tix program.
“Our purpose is to create opportunities for people through advancing glass art education,” said director Rex Brown. “In fact, we do so many kinds of glass art that we’re in the top 10 internationally of what we do, so right here in Columbus they really have something.”
While many of the founders are now working elsewhere, OSU is still represented in the studio.
“I came to Ohio State for grad school and found out about (Glass Axis) through my professor,” said Jacci Delaney, glassblowing instructor and artist at Glass Axis. “I rent a studio here now, so since I finished my grad degree I have that space to work.”
The professor who introduced Delaney to the studio was Richard Harned, a founder of Glass Axis and the man to whom Hudson attributes a lot of the studio’s success. Hudson said the founders started by meeting in Harned’s house before creating the mobile studio that would become Glass Axis.
“We all owe Richard Harned a whole debt of gratitude for the years of his life that he dedicated to Glass Axis,” Hudson said.
In it’s tenure, Glass Axis has grown to be more than just a place to blow glass, Harned said. What started with just OSU members grew into a community of local artists from different parts of the country. Even so, Harned said he still gets OSU students involved with Glass Axis.
“Axis helps my students to participate in the world as good citizens,” Harned said. “Axis is not only a safety net, but also a launch pad.”
Another OSU alumna who has utilized Glass Axis resources is Alexandra Fresch, social media coordinator and glass instructor at the studio.
“Glass Axis is a really incredible facility because I went to Ohio State, and when you graduate, just like a lot of other majors you don’t know where you can go to still do your art affordably,” Fresch said. “Glass Axis offers that opportunity for myself but it also is welcoming to students or adults.”
Glass Axis is currently exhibiting “Fragile Fashion,” featuring wearable glass art. Those pieces will be part of the organization’s annual fashion show fundraiser, “Glassquerade,” on March 4.