Handmade glass tableware and home décor brand Annieglass celebrated a huge milestone at Atlanta Market earlier this week – 40 years in business – with the announcement of another milestone – the creation of its largest glass piece ever.
“Well, it’s 40 years!” said Annieglass founder and lead designer Annie Morhauser with a laugh. “We literally had to do something big to celebrate.”
Decorated in platinum and 24-karat gold, the 36-inch round art piece comes complete with a custom metal display stand, specially designed to support the weight of the piece, and features a unique design done in precious metals. Crafted, numbered and signed by Morhauser, the new piece’s initial run of eight sold out almost immediately earlier this month. In response to the demand, a second eight-piece run has been announced in a 32-inch variation.
In an interview at Annieglass Building 2, Floor 9 Atlanta Market showroom, Morhauser sat down with sister publication Gifts & Decorative Accessories to discuss the process and the inspiration that guided her when working on her largest Annieglass piece ever.
“Being an artist is the most important thing,” said Morhauser. “It’s all I care about. Making a piece like that is what keeps me around, getting to incorporate the painting and the artistic side.”
The painting done on her 40th anniversary release is a culmination of a lifetime of work and a more recent exploration into new painting methods courtesy of a class she began taking at her local community college about a year and a half ago. The class was all day, offering time to work from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. multiple times a week, and Morhauser dug into a number of special projects with all that time, ultimately pulling inspiration from German visual artist Gerhard Richter for the painted designs found on her anniversary Annieglass.
“I was inspired by an artist who worked in a wheelchair and was 80 years old,” said Morhauser, who practiced Richter’s method on everything from canvas and cardboard to glass and wood during her classes. “He takes a squeegee, chops it up, and then takes paint and pulls it across… So that’s what you see on the glass and how that sort-of grid pattern was done.”
For Morhauser’s versions on 36-inch glass, layers of gold and platinum were used as paints “to showcase the richness of our journey and the intrinsic value Annieglass has for the many people we’ve touched over four decades.”
“With this type of work, sometimes you can do things that are really very pretty when they’re small, and I think I’ve always done that,” continued Morhauser, reflecting on what the scale of the piece meant to her and the design process. “So, it was really wonderful to work with such a big piece, especially with this process and the big squeegee and taking and pulling the passes – the bigger the better now!”
Annieglass is based in Watsonville, Calif., where all its pieces – about 80,000 annually – are handmade by its team of artisans in a 17,000 square foot studio using a unique slumping and finishing process that combines traditional glassmaking elements with continually evolving technology like laser cutting machines.
Morhauser founded Annieglass 1983 with just one employee after graduating from California College of Arts with the help of food stamps and scholarships. Today, the Annieglass team is made up of 22 employees including Morhauser’s son Taylor Reinhold, a muralist, and her daughter, Ava Reinhold, Annieglass’ retail manager, who both work alongside her in the family business. Annieglass pieces can be found in homes and stores across the country and on permanent display in the Smithsonian’s Luce Foundation Collection of American Craft. They have also previously been featured at the Corning Museum of Glass and the Glasgow Museum of Modern Design.