Our Demo Team
Matthew Richard Karl Piepenbrok
Matthew Richard Karl Piepenbrok was born in 1976 on a navy base in Connecticut and raised in rural Wisconsin from the age of 1. It was in Wisconsin where his aesthetic and sensibility of glass was formed. With a fascination and obsession for all things glass at a young age, he had his first "bite" of glass at the age of 10. Through continual education and exploration of glassworking and anthropology, he has accumulated several fine arts and anthropology degrees from three universities in the Wisconsin System; following the Harvy Liddleton traditions. He received his AAS in 2005 from UWMC, two BFAs in 2010 from UWSP and a MFA in 2013 UW-Madison. All while establishing his family business, Persional Studio "Studio2" and raising his three, now adult, children. After attending and working in the University of Wisconsin system from student to technician to instructor, Piepenbrok has found his love in glassworking to be the intrinsic nature of glass and the object-viewer relationship that guides and defines culture and individuality.
Visit Matt at the Morean Arts Center as the new Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop Manager!
Tim Soluna was born in Carbondale, Ill., in 1985, where he developed an interest in the arts at an early age. He began working with molten glass at the age of 17 and fell in love with the unique medium -- captivated by the material's transformation from solid to liquid and the complex dance of the glassblowing process. After high school. Soluna attended Southern Illinois University where he pursued his interest in fine arts. In 2009, he received a scholarship to attend Pilchuck Glass School's summer intensive learning from Tom Rowney, studying the creation of intricate glass pattern canes and their application in making delicate goblets. In 2010, he graduated from SIU with a BFA specializing in glass art. Since graduation, he has worked in glass studios in Illinois, Oregon and Florida.
As a world traveler, his exposure to different cultures and their unique ways of expressing ideas and emotions through artistic means has enriched and broadened his view on the world and its anthropomorphic landscape. Encountering the world's amazing flora and fauna along his life's journey has also influenced his love of color and natural forms.
David is a self-taught flame-working glass artist who first started working on a torch in 1998. In 2008, he began a two year apprenticeship in "hot glass", where he applied his knowledge of flame-working to this new and exciting medium. In 2010 he began working with the Morean Arts Center as the Hot Shop & Glass Studio Technician. Currently a demo-artist, he creates his art during glassblowing demonstrations with fellow glass-artist and his one-time apprentice, Edelweis Walker.
Edelweis Walker has always had a great interest in artwork. From a young age, one of her favorite subjects was art class. Whether it was drawing, painting or sculpting, she was eager to try new mediums. In college, Walker majored in Health Science and graduated with her A.S. Degree in Radiography, but she always kept an art class in her curriculum. Walker continued taking art classes after she graduated and worked mainly in ceramics and wheel thrown pottery. In 1999, she learned stained glass and later began learning fused glass. However, blown art glass had always intrigued her. In 2011, Walker attended a glass blowing demonstration at the Morean Arts Center Glass Studio & Hot Shop. Within a month of seeing the demo, she signed up for a beginners glass blowing class with David Spurgeon. She discovered a new form of art that challenged and excited her. After attending several 6-week classes, she became Spurgeon's apprentice. She is now one of the Gaffers on the demo team at the Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop and enjoys continuing to learn as she creates.
Jeremiah Jacobs was born in 1983 and grew up in rural Wisconsin. In 2000, he took an interest in his high school ceramics program, and he has been a practicing potter ever since. Shortly after high school, Jeremiah attended the School of The Art Institute of Chicago where he took a great interest in Athenian vase technique, this influence can still be heavily seen in Jeremiah's work today. For many years Jeremiah Apprenticed in potteries around the country from Maine to Hawaii, and just about everywhere in between. In 2011, he took a position as a resident artist at the Craftsman House Gallery. This position introduced Jeremiah to the Warehouse Arts District here in St. Petersburg, Florida where he now lives and works.
Since coming to St. Petersburg, he has been exposed to many different types of artistic work and he has been anxiously learning as many new materials and processes as possible, including mold making, glass blowing and bronze casting. Now working at the Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop as one of the house gaffers, Jeremiah is quickly becoming a rounded glassblower. Many of his skill sets from his ceramic work transfers into the glass, as do his ideas and styles from his ceramic work. Through this, Jeremiah has experienced a creative surge in many new and exciting directions.
Bao Nya Thao
Emerging Hmong-American artist, Bao Nya Thao, was first introduced to glassworking in 2006 at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County. After becoming hypnotized by the molten medium, she continued her glass education at UW Madison to follow the traditions of glass pioneer, Harvey Littleton, and UW alumni, Dale Chihuly. Here, Bao studied the different forms of glassworking favoring glass enameling, fusing, and coldworking. Following the completion of her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012, she served a year in AmeriCorps, was a coordinator for an after-school program, and explored the southcentral area of Alaska. Currently, she is the newest member of the in-house gaffers at the Morean Arts Center.
Benjamin was born in Woodlin Hills, California in 1994. He is currently the newest and youngest gaffer at the Morean Arts Center. He began his glass journey working on a torch making jewelry. He then realized that he didn’t get as much enjoyment working on a torch as he did working in a furnace. So he packed his bags and moved to Venice, Italy where the island of Murano is located. Benjamin went knocking on doors looking for work. He was lucky enough to get an assistant job working for Davide Salvadore who is a grand maestro on the island. He spent a year and a half learning the art of glassblowing in Murano before moving to Florida.
Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Anjali Singh received her 2016 Bachelor of Fine Art with a concentration in glass from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. During her time there, she received the Windgate Foundation Research Award and was a Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award Finalist in her thesis year. In furthering her glass education, Anjali has taken many workshops from Ethan Stern, David Schnuckel, and Stine Bistrup. In addition, she has worked at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York state before working at the Lincoln City Glass Center in Oregon.
Anjali’s passion for glass started immediately after seeing the material for the first time. She was struck with curiosity. She continues to focus around the technical skills involved to create glassblowing.