Of Fine Days
Artist Mindy Weisel partnered with Bullseye Studio to produce the large-scale kilnformed glass artwork Of Fine Days that still features—over a decade later—as the outdoor centerpiece of a 28-acre corporate office campus in Rockville, MD.
The 144-square-foot artwork is comprised of eight 36” x 72” x 1.125” panels. These conjoin to form two 144” x 72” sections. Each glass panel weighs 260 lbs, putting the artwork’s total weight of glass at 2100 lbs. Designed to last for decades outdoors while weathering the region’s dramatic temperature swings and hurricane-force winds, the artwork relies upon strategically selected, technically oriented layers of kilnformed glass and lamination. The artwork is supported, furthermore, by a steel frame that was also designed and fabricated by Bullseye Studio.
The project arose serendipitously when a builder involved in new construction at the site saw Weisel’s collection of kilnformed glass art, Words on a Journey, shown in the American University Museum. Based on that body of work, the builder commissioned Weisel to create kilnformed art for two new lobbies and a large-scale outdoor artwork. With the assistance of glass artist Kari Minnick, Weisel successfully completed those lobby artworks. But given the high-level technical challenges posed by the size and location of the outdoor piece, Minnick advised Weisel to consult with the fabrication department (now Bullseye Studio) at Bullseye Glass Company.
Upon consultation with Bullseye Studio, it became clear that success in realizing the outdoor project’s diverse requirements would mean achieving the following wide-ranging artistic and technical demands:
- Fidelity to the original artwork, with artist-approved translations of color, figure, and form.
- Thermal stability, allowing the artwork to remain impervious to the area’s freeze-and-thaw cycles and general wide range of temperature fluctuations.
- Weather-proofed design, keeping the artwork unblemished for decades despite direct exposure to snow, rain, high winds, and direct sunlight.
- An abrasion resistant surface able to preserve the artwork from scratches and weathering while making it easy to clean regularly.
- Public safety requirements in keeping with the client’s Class-A building standards.
- A minimalist support structure able to complement the artwork, girding the glass and its weight for long-term safety and durability.
Bullseye Studio met each demand through a dynamic array of solutions. From these solutions, here are just a few highlights:
- To faithfully translate Weisel’s original artwork, Bullseye Studio created a 36” x 24” prototype to proof all of the colors and methods proposed for the large-scale project. Each layer of the prototype combined several different styles and forms of glass—sheet glasses, frits, glass ribbons, glass stringers—all placed with exacting care. This minute attention to detail allowed Weisel to provide precise feedback on color, line, form, light transmission, texture, and even how the piece looked within its proposed steel frame. The process aimed to make sure that every detail and dimension of Weisel’s artwork scaled successfully in relationship to the whole.
- To ensure the artwork’s durability in its outdoor environment, Bullseye Studio employed a method tested and affirmed by an independent laboratory for its effectiveness at equipping glass to withstand thermal shock due to quickly changing weather conditions. The method primarily involved placing the “design layers” of glass between solid layers of clear glass of equal thickness. The artwork was also engineered to remain stable in hurricane-force winds.
- To satisfy the client’s requirements for ease of care, Bullseye Studio employed precise firing techniques to make sure the surface layers of each glass panel had a uniformly semi-matte finish. This ensured two things: one, that the surface would be smooth and non-porous for quick, efficient maintenance, and two, that the artwork’s surface would not be so glossy that reflections from sunlight could drown out its composition with glare.
- To equip the artwork’s installers with maximum knowledge, Bullseye Studio provided design, engineering, and shop drawings that detailed the foundation, concrete base, stainless steel structure, and glazing that would be necessary for successful installation of the work. Bullseye Studio was also present for installation to provide any needed consultation.
These details help illustrate why, over a decade after installation, Mindy Weisel’s Of Fine Days continues to serve as an artistic hub to the surrounding campus. Not only was it made to last, it was made by Bullseye Studio to illuminate and inspire with a painstaking translation of the artist’s vision.
In 2017, campus renovations led to a relocation of the artwork, making it even more central to the community greenspace and walking paths. As one of the renovating builders commented: “We are very excited about how our architects have incorporated [the] artwork into the renovation. In short, the renovation will turn the existing central motor court into an active, lively, and fully landscaped amenity for the entire campus….” There is no doubt Weisel’s large-scale artwork serves as a most fitting centerpiece for that vibrant communal vision.