in partnership
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(Image courtesy of Janis Miltenberger).

Artist of the Week: Janis Miltenberger

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
JM: I have been working with hot glass for the past forty plus years. Beginning as a glass blower at nineteen and then after sixteen years blowing glass, I found lamp working (working with a torch). My only other medium is human, I have been a volunteer EMT for the past eight years, and part of that time I also worked as a fight EMT. My interest in the body, life, death and human interactions all benefit both my EMT work and are on display in my glass sculptures. Fragility and story telling imbue both of my passions.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
After a concept is developed, I make a full scale drawing. Using the drawing much like a map, components are then modeled and shaped to conform to the sketch. Glass is a demanding technical medium and if it is to be packaged and shipped, a lot of thought must go into it from the onset. Once the glass framework has been built and fused together the outer decorative components are added.

I usually work in series, this has helped me to develop ideas and refine the technical dilemmas that present themselves.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Over time I would say that the glass, and the lamp working technique itself, have had a hand in shaping what I make, but then again that line is blurry. Perhaps I chose this technique because I am drawn to working with plants and birds and the material that I use is in the form of tubing and solid rods, perfect for vines and plant like forms. I also like the ability to work in parts or sections and build something much larger than I could with standard glassblowing from a furnace. Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you? I definitely have made pieces that I felt “worked”, where I resolved an issue that might have plagued me in the past. I can still be charmed by how light and the transparency and opalescence of glass, can make a piece, giving it something special. Usually it is the piece I am working on right now, this instance which is the most special.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I am gonna bet the most influential experiences are those that I do not consciously see, they are the parts of myself that are fundamental, that I do not doubt but instead are the basis for what I believe. However I do make some work based on specific events that had profound effects in my life. On my website I elaborate on some stories and relate the story to a piece which I made.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
I am currently being shown at: Habatat Galleries in Michigan, Museo Gallery, Langley Washington and Waterworks Gallery Friday Harbor, Washington. I also represent myself and welcome visitors to my studio on Lopez Island (please call/email first!) 360) 672-5824, web address, or email.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I am starting a series of chandeliers based on vasopressors and vasodilators, Connecting the natural world with common cardiac drugs. I am also developing the concept of glass wall work which can be manipulated and redesigned to accommodate different spaces, like a glass wall paper.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
My hot beverage of choice is usually a strong Ceylon, or Assam tea, taken with milk, but I also like coffee! My last favorite cup was handed to me in Montepulciano, it was a smooth cappuccino, and I drank it standing up!