Water Street Glassworks Team 2020


Who are we? We have one thing in common, a passion for the glass and metal fire arts and the love of sharing it with others. We are artists, instructors, marketers, and as they say "wear many hats" (sometimes they are festive!). But most of all, we believe in the mission of Water Street Glassworks, and that common bond drives us to create new classes, programs, experiences, product designs, and events. Our primary goal is to provide our students, patrons, artists, and community with the best experience possible. We always welcome suggestions and comments so feel free to contact us!



Lynne Clayton, Executive Director

Nick and Caty, my children started blowing glass at WSG in 2003. I had always wanted to experience it too, and in 2011, I finally succumbed to the call of the Glass Gypsies!

Glass is a metaphor for life to me: You make a plan, prepare, create, then must await the results; which are sometimes beyond your control.  On occasion the creative result is exactly as you had pictured in your artist’s minds eye, other times serendipity intervenes, and a happy accident can become a new way to explore your artistic path.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve, work, learn, and create art at WSG. It is an incredible organization made up of many dedicated, creative, volunteers and staff, and it is my privilege to be a small part of it.


Eli Zilke, Glassblowing Instructor, Studio Manager, Production Designer
I began my glass journey at Water Street Glassworks at the age of 12 when I 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 I started training as a studio technician and eventually a teaching assistant under Jerry Catania. In 2013 I 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 I returned to Water Street to assume the position of Studio Manager/Production Designer as well as the core glassblowing instructor. I am excited for the re-launch of the Fired-Up program and hope to launch the passions of new generations of glassblower for years to come.


Donna Sauers, Marketing Director

My introduction to working with hot glass was the year I was given a glassblowing workshop for Christmas at Fiasco Glass (Jerry and Kathy Catania's glass studio in Glenn MI). I didn't know it at the time, but it was also the event that would eventually lead me to a career change.

You could call it serendipity that I was introduced to an artist who taught lampworking and I found it was a way to create tiny glass gems out of my home studio. That experience led to designing jewelry and creating a line I sell through fine art shows and galleries. I recently started creating sculptures and a new body of work with welded metal, blown glass and casted glass pieces because of classes I took at WSG and the inspiration from fellow artists. I always encourage people to take a new class and try new mediums, because those experiences may impact your work in ways you never imagined.

My professional career includes over 20 years experience in traditional and digital marketing with such organizations as The Bradford Exchange, Quill/Staples, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. In addition to marketing, I worked as a product developer for licensed products in the gift industry including Disney. I feel fortunate for the opportunity to apply my experience to Water Street Glassworks.

Some of the artists at WSG are responsible for starting me on my journey in the glass arts and I enjoy working with the Fired Up! students and teaching classes. Watching them grow and finding their voice in their art is extremely rewarding.



Anna Strach, Office Manager

Anna Strach received her Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Tourism Management from Grand Valley State University in May 2017. She made Dean’s list each semester, had internships every Summer, and graduated Cum Laude. She entered the non-profit and art world at the same time in fourth grade. She made earrings and dog treats to raise money for the Humane Society and Nature Conservancy. She took this drive for creation and wanting to be part of something more and got involved with Krasl Art Center. Krasl Art Fair on The Bluff has an Emerging Artist Tent, her first year, at age 11,  she became the top seller ever. The following year she started volunteering at Krasl as a Camp Counselor where they later offered her a paid position, which she held for many summers. She worked all through high school and then obtained internships in the hospitality field each summer during college. Working at the front desk at Marina Grand Resort, a jack of all trades at Whirlpool’s corporate training center, and the Assistant Housekeeping Supervisor at Harbor Shores. After graduation she took time to travel before starting her job as Assistant Manager at The Mason Jar, a popular restaurant located in the Benton Harbor Arts District. This led her down the street to Water Street Glassworks, where she has worked her way up to being the Office Manager over her first few months. Now over two years later she still holds the title Office Manager but has added Instructor, Private Party Coordinator, and Artist.

 

VicShonda has always had a love for the arts she had been a part of the music programs in her community for five years before she was introduced to the glass arts. She began her glass journey in the Fired Up! Teen After Shool Program in the fusing studio. For Vic'Shoda, glass is a creative outlet and is her safe place. She enjoyed the many ways she was able to manipulate glass, gain the skills of selling her work, and entering her designs into art shows. VicShonda continues to use the skills she gained from being in the Fired Up! program.
 
In 2013 VicShonda left for college at Grand Valley State University to pursue a degree in criminal justice minor in juvenile justice. She graduated knowing she had a passion for kids and working with at risk youth. She returned home to Benton Harbor in August 2019 to be a positive influence for the youth in her community. VicShonda is excited to be back at Water Street Glassworks as the Coordinator for our Fired Up! program. She enjoys recruiting teens to be part of the program giving them an opportunity to learn the glass arts, provide an entrepreneurial experience, and gain a sense of independence and confidence. She hopes to promote more business owners and entrepreneurs.

 

Water Street Glassworks got me hooked on glass when I was 12 years old. Since then glassblowing has been my favorite hobby, that has also turned to a part-time occupation. In college I worked on the production team at Greenfield Village, part of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, as well as part time help for introductory classes at Glass Academy. I volunteered cleaning and teaching introductory classes at one of the only public access studios in Israel when I was living abroad, but there’s no place like home. Helping give back to the students in Fired Up! and home school is more fun than work, allowing me to help strengthen their future in glass. Water Street is a pillar of this artistic community and it brings me joy to help out when I can.