‘In the Artist’s Studio’ with Jan Scanlin

Glass artist Jan Scanlin talks about her rise and fall in the wholesale business, her most challenging project, and collaboration with local wood and metal artist Dan Ferrarese.


There was a time in the not-so-distant past that you were really on the move, going to shows, selling work nationwide. What was that like?

Years ago an artist friend recommended going to wholesale shows. At that time I didn’t even know what a wholesale show was, so he suggested I pick up a copy of the magazine, `American Craft.` That magazine featured American craftsmen all over the U.S. in all kinds of different craft medias. John (my super-supportive husband) and I traveled to check out craft events. ACC (American Craft Council) in San Francisco, Buyer’s Market of American Craft (called the Wendy Rosen Show in those days) and so forth. After thinking about it for four years, I finally worked up the gumption (and saved the money) to apply to the Rosen show. Our first one was in the summer in Philadelphia. We shipped 2,000 pounds of glass, marble and booth equipment, packed in two big crates, back to Philadelphia. Once there, amid fork lifts, crates, artists and exhibit personnel, we set up our little 10′ x 10′ booth and waited to see what would happen. After many deep breaths and a little sleep, we did our first wholesale show. It turned out OK. Not wonderful, but OK. We packed up, came home with some orders, went back the following February and had a tremendous show. The economy was great then. Galleries and tourist destinations were thriving and we had a wonderful response to our product line.


How has your life and your work changed from those days?

After the winter show, I came home with all these orders to fill without any help. I called a good friend of mine who is very artistic and asked her if she wanted to come work with me part-time. Well, little did either of us know, part-time would become full-time and we needed more help. Eventually we ended up with five more people and ran out of room in my garage. We did about five years of the wholesale winter shows, up until 9/11. We were committed to an American Arts Festival show in October 2001, almost exactly one month after 9/11. Needless to say, it was a bust. I refocused. I began marketing sandblasted glass for homes and businesses: entry doors, sidelites, room dividers, transoms, etc. During the busy building boom, this went very well. These days, with the economy being what it is, I am working less, but also enjoying things I didn’t have time to do before, like riding my horse, working with kids, and just goofing off.

What was your most challenging project?

My most challenging and out of the ordinary project was the Giving Tree for the Redding Library. I also did work for Win River that was challenging, but pretty straightforward. The Giving Tree was more sculptural in nature and required engineering that I hadn’t done before. When I tackle something big like that, it puts me in complete awe of artists who do huge installations, like Chihuly.


You have a great work space – part studio, part showroom. How did all of this come about?

I outgrew my garage and needed a larger place to work. I looked at industrial spaces in town and thought maybe of building on our property, but we needed a special permit. Then one day, out of the clear blue, our neighbor called and said he had sold his bee business. It was like God reached down, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered “I have something for you.” It was the wonderful workspace I have, the former home of my neighbor’s bees. The main building was a 40 x 60 metal shell with a bathroom in the back. We hired River Valley Construction to come in, lower the ceiling, build rooms, insulate, put in work stations, the whole nine yards. It is a fantastic place to do art.




The glass-making process requires some small, fine equipment, but also some heavy-duty equipment. What is that big machine? I need to know about your attractive “space” suit too.

The sandblaster. Smaller pieces of glass go into the glass cabinet and you hold it with gloved hands. The dust is vacuumed out into a dust collector at the end of the cabinet. The walk-in booth requires you to suit up in a fresh air supply hood. The suit ensures that you don’t breathe the dusty air.


You’re now collaborating with Dan Ferrarese. What a dream team – a glass artist and a furniture maker.

Greg Mann at GMS Mann Jewelers introduced us. Dan was working on an outdoor fountain and he needed some special glass for it. He looked me up and we immediately hit it off.  It’s kind of like we were cut out of the same piece of cloth – the threads just go from one to the other and back again. We sketch out ideas together and the other one finishes them. It’s great fun. Ideas come from materials we have around us. Fortunately we’re both married to spouses who are very understanding and put up with our wild ideas. Actually, John might be kind of glad to have another guy in the picture to build the stuff I used to badger him about. Nice thing is, I can’t find anything yet that Dan can’t do! He a joy to work with and is eager and willing. His wife, Cathy, a very talented and artistic quilter, is also very patient and supportive of our new collaboration.


You showed a few pieces at the AAUW Home Tour. How did that go?

The AAUW Home Tour gave Dan and me great exposure. I felt the new works were well received. One of the favorites was “Three Rivers Gorge,” poured glass and slate. The glass spoke to me. Within it I saw the mountains and the valleys of the Yangtze.


What are we going to see in your show at Parmer’s Furniture this Saturday?

This week at ArtHop we will be showing a variety of fountains, copper and glass combinations, poured glass and slate, mirror and wood, as well as some of our individual pieces. I hope to complete glass jewelry pieces which are completely new for me. Dan will be bringing some of his wonderful and fun furniture too.

What’s next?

We’re already talking about some of our next projects: statement pieces, practical pieces, wall mounted glass and copper, even kiln-fired glass incorporated into works. The two of us, with a little extra help from above, just let the ideas flow, hence our name, Synergistic Arts. Webster’s definition of synergism: the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

See work by Jan Scanlin and Dan Ferrarese at Parmer’s Furniture, 333 Park Marina Circle, Redding.  Reception for the artists Saturday, Nov. 14, 6 to 9 p.m., during 2nd Saturday ArtHop. for more information about Jan Scanlin, visit scanlinglass.com.

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop.

Adam Mankoski

is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.

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