INSTRUCTORS & VISITING ARTISTSExplore the “Fire Arts” of glass & metal! Our qualified instructors will guide you through the exciting learning process of working in the fire arts. Learn to blow or cast molten glass, weld and hammer metal, form glass beads over a torch, or create a colorful expression of yourself in our fusing and mosaic studios. Select from a variety of classes or schedule a private experience for your group.
Glassblowing, Casting, Fired Up! & Homeschool Instructor
Eli Zilke began his glass journey at Water Street Glassworks at the age of 12 when he joined the Fired-Up! Program. It was love at first “gather” and really became more of an obsession. After a couple years in the program Eli started training as a studio technician and eventually a teaching assistant under Jerry Catania. In 2013 Eli departed Water Street Glassworks to Co-Found Hot Shop Valpo a production glass studio in Northwest Indiana. During this time HSV installed several large architectural installations and supplied over a dozen galleries across the region.
In 2018 Eli returned to Water Street to assume the position of Studio Manager/ Production Designer as well as the core glassblowing instructor. Eli hopes to launch the passions of new generations of glassblower for years to come.
Flameworking, Glass Fusing, Fired Up!, Homeschool & Cardea Bead Instructor
For as long as she can remember Gina has liked to create things. It wasn't until she discovered the joy of melting glass that she finally felt she could be an artist. "Glass is such a satisfying and unique media to work with," she says. "There is always a new technique to try, or I'll see something that sparks an idea. I've been working with glass for 18 years and it continues to inspire and challenge me." Gina has been teaching at Water Street Glassworks for several years. She has a relaxed and enthusiastic teaching style that she hopes conveys her passion to her students. "Working with the torches and molten glass can be intimidating at first. I believe my relaxed style helps the student get past that so they can focus on the glass and experience the joy that comes with working with it." Gina has been experimenting with mixed media art pieces - creating with re-purposed wood, metal, paper, and fiber. She believes that anything has the potential to be an art supply. "But," she says with a laugh, "it almost always comes back to glass."
Gina lives in Sodus with her husband. She has a glass art studio where she meets with people by appointment. You can find her on Facebook @ Merehawk Designs.
Torch-Fired Enamels and Light Metals Instructor
Tina is an artist, and instructor in the jewelry studio. "I love teaching and making art, which is perfect because I am an art teacher in Dowagiac Public Schools. I have three great kids, one cool dog and have lived in and love the area my entire life." Tina offers adult classes at Water Street Glassworks including Torch Fired Enamel and Light Metals for the jewelry studio, specializing in metal finishing techniques and jewelry construction.
My love of all things glass began over 20 years ago after taking stained glass instruction in the Kalamazoo and Lansing areas. I continued to experiment with the medium over the years, studying the works of other accomplished mosaic artists, while learning different techniques in design and composition of glass art. I have taught mosaic instruction for several years to children and adults in Plainwell, MI, as well as the Gull Lake Partnership in Bedford, MI. I love sharing in the excitement my students feel as they take shards of glass and create a beautiful work of art! I now reside in the St Joseph area, continuing my work in my home studio, selling at area art shows, various shops, and private commissions. I am excited to continue my exploration of glass work at Water Street.
Stained Glass Instructor
I moved to southwest Michigan in 1991 and fell in love with the area. I have been a public school teacher since 1996 and a stained glass artist since 1993. When I had the opportunity to become a stained glass teacher here at Water Street Glassworks, I did not hesitate! I absolutely love teaching for Water Street Glassworks and bringing my passion for both glass and teaching together!
Glass Fusing, & SPARK Volunteer Instructor
Lexi Ziebarth has been with us since she was first able to take classes at 12 years old! She continued her glass work through our fired up program during her high school years and is now enrolled at grand valley state university to study ceramics. All together that is 10 years of fusing experience and 5 years working in the blowing shop. she has come back to work around the shop and teach in our glass blowing and fusing studios. Now Lexi runs our SPARK volunteer program and helps stock our gallery with blown and fused art works.
Jordan Rose grew up in Saint Joseph, MI and earned her BFA in Crafts with a focus on glass from College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. Before joining Water Street Glassworks as an instructor and artist Jordan blew glass for the Glass Academy based in Dearborn, MI, and for the Henry Ford Museum as a member of their hot shop. One of the highlights of her time at the Henry Ford was the opportunity to work with artists Janusz Pozniak, Mark Petrovic, and Paul Stankard. Sharing her enthusiasm for glass blowing is one of Jordan’s favorite parts of teaching glassblowing classes and experiences at WSG. She loves that every encounter in the hot shop is a new opportunity to create beautiful art and fall in love with blowing glass!
Enamel Jewelry Instructor
Jackie Baker started in enameling with a class at Water Street Glassworks with Neil Kraus. Prior to this she had made jewelry for about 15 years, and hoped to incorporate enameling in her business, Dragons Fly Beads. Unlike other glass forms, enameling gives instantaneous results. It is forgiving and one can redo almost anything if the results are disappointing. “I learn something every time I fire my kiln.” Jackie has taken an additional enameling class at OxBow with Veleta Vancza and learned to torch enamel from Tina Tavalocci at Water Street Glassworks.
Glass Fusing Instructor