Annie Grossarth is a studio assistant and teacher at Potek Glass in Minneapolis.
â€œI definitely always had artistic tendencies,â€ Annie Grossarth recalled. â€œMy parents were magicians. They met in Boise, Idaho, and moved to Eugene, Oregon. They did a lot of company picnics and festivals. My mom would dress up as a magic clown. I was always the assistant â€” I was the floating lady.â€
In college, Grossarthâ€™s interest turned from performing arts to studio arts. She started college in Oregon, then moved to Minneapolis where her sister and brother-in-law were already living. She completed her associate degree in studio arts at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC).
Three years ago, still in college, she â€œstumbled acrossâ€ Potekglass in northeast Minneapolis and decided to take a class with studio owner Malcom Potek. She made herself memorable to her future boss by showing up on the wrong day. Shortly thereafter, he posted a notice for an intern. â€œI became an intern for 150 hours while working at Starbucks,â€ Grossarth said.
One of the assigned duties of the internship was teaching beginning-level classes.
â€œMy parents both ended up being teachers, so it was something I was very interested in,â€ she said.
After the internship was complete, Grossarth moved into the almost full-time studio assistant position. Her role continues to include most of the intro-level classes that are offered on weekends. â€œDuring the week I do the admin stuff â€” advertising and marketing schemes, ordering and inventory. I also do production work â€” if Malcom gets commissioned to do something or we want to run a new product line, I wind up doing the time-consuming parts of it. We do a lot of residencies with schools; each student gets to do an individual tile and we put them together and it gets installed in a window. Iâ€™m looking into doing more intermediate classes as well as developing some products. Iâ€™m super-grateful for my position here because I have the time and the space and the materials.â€
Why were you attracted to glasswork?
Itâ€™s three-dimensional, something tactile that can be held and touched and examined. With a drawing or a painting, itâ€™s â€œdonâ€™t touch it!â€ With glass, unless it gets dropped, itâ€™s not going to change. I also enjoy that the process is a little more dangerous than some mediums. I enjoy working with the high temperature. With glass, you canâ€™t take your time with it. Once you start, you have to keep going until itâ€™s done. Itâ€™s challenging for me to work on things for a long time. This holds my attention.
What kinds of products do you make?
Weâ€™ve done eco-jigs â€” lead-free glass fishing lures. Theyâ€™re made like a marble so they wonâ€™t break. I used to decorate cakes, so Iâ€™ve been applying that technique to making small glass roses. Weâ€™re going to produce those as wedding-cake toppers. We do lot of lighting and tiles. Iâ€™ve been creating more designs for those products so folks have a variety to choose from.
Do you have time for your own art?
Itâ€™s usually more off the clock. I do a lot of sculptural work in borosilicate glass â€” small animals and floral designs. Iâ€™m coming back to enjoying making beads, too.
Where will your career go from here?
For the time, Iâ€™m content to share my knowledge and resources with folks who want to practice with glass for the first time. Itâ€™s exciting that Malcom has the same mission â€” to help people pursue a seemingly unattainable medium.
Photo Credit: Tom Witta