Category: Family Story Totem

Killer Whale Totem

Introducing the newest totem piece by Preston Singletary, the “Killer Whale Totem”.

Introducing the newest totem piece by Preston Singletary, the “Killer Whale Totem”. This totem includes his moiety (Eagle) on top, and Singletary’s clan crest (the Killer Whale) in the center. A Thunderbird, emerges from the mouth of the Killer Whale. This Thunderbird represents David Swenson’s crest symbol, Svenson is the carver of the original wooden totem pole version and one of Singletary’s mentors. At the bottom of the totem is the Wolf design, the original moiety for the tribe, which was replaced by the contemporary depiction of an Eagle.

This piece is also in the process of becoming a larger full-sized totem, created in glass and standing at 8 feet tall. Stay tuned as we post photos of the larger version, which will also be cast in lead crystal.

To see Singletary’s first full-sized totem, “Family Story Totem” please visit Here


Killer Whale Totem

Killer Whale Totem, 36" x 11" x 8" , Cast Lead Crystal

Killer Whale Totem, Detail


Kiler Whale Totem, Detail

Killer Whale Totem, Full View

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The Latest “Family Story Totem”

The latest in the "Family Story Totem" series is almost complete. 

Introducing the newest “Family Story Totem” in cast lead crystal, the final in this series of three monumental totems representing Singletary’s great grandmother and her pet bear cub that she had as a child.

Stay posted for more photos of this work as final touches are completed and installation begins. Also, stay tuned as the next series of monumental lead crystal totems by Preston Singletary are announced! 



Family Story Totem, Detail  

Above Images: Approval visit by the artist at the Czech Republic Studio, where the "Family Story Totem" was cast.

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The Start of a Busy Summer Schedule!

A rundown of our busy summer season!

Summer 2013 will be a very busy one for all of us at Preston Singletary Inc.!  

When Bears Could Talk, 2013 (Blue Rain Gallery)

We kicked off the summer with some new works at Blue Rain Gallery in their Group Glass Show, alongside Dante Marioni, Rik Allen, Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Nancy Callan, Sean O’Neill, Armelle Bouchet O’Neill, Benjamin Moore, Cassandria Blackmore, Sibylle Peretti, Jeremy Lepisto, and Elodie Holmes.  

Midway through June, Schantz Galleries unveiled some of Preston's new works for their summer season, and will release a catalog later in the summer.

Under the Still Water, 2013 (Schantz Galleries)

In July, Preston will travel to Chicago to install the first of three monumental Family Story Totems.  The totem will travel from the Czech Republic with members of the crew that cast it to install it in a very unique place - on the 62nd floor of a high-rise overlooking Lake Michigan!  The installation promises to be interesting, and there will be a film-crew recording it and the beginning stages of a new totem for a documentary about Preston that starts production this summer.

Thunderbird and Killer Whale, 2013 (Schantz Galleries)

Gray Goose, 2013 (Blue Rain Gallery)

August will be a VERY busy month:

  • Preston will have a solo exhibition at Blue Rain Gallery opening August 1 that will feature all new works.  
  • The following weekend, on August 9, Preston turns 50!  
  • The next weekend, SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe will kick off and Preston will add a few more pieces to his show at Blue Rain.  
  • He'll fly back to perform with Little Big Band at the Sky Church at EMP as a part of the Seattle Center Festál Indigenous Cultures Day on August 18.
  • August 23, Preston will celebrate his birthday with a private concert by one of his musical heroes, Bernie Worrell.
  • August 24, Little Big Band will open for the Bernie Worrell Orchestra at a public show at Columbia City's The Royal Room (tickets are still available!)

And that brings us to Labor Day Weekend, when we'll be celebrating a successful summer season, rest a little, and get ready for 3 more shows in the fall!

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In February, Preston traveled to Prague to see the totem in its finished state; the surface cleaning and retouching had been completed and the three sections assembled.

In February, Preston traveled to Prague to see the totem in its finished state;  the surface cleaning and retouching had been completed and the three sections assembled.  

His traveling companions were project manager Charlie Parriott, his long-time friend and fellow glassblower Dante Marioni, and photographer Russell Johnson.  Russell's photographs captured the trip in documentary form, which we'll share with you in the coming weeks.

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The totem has been successfully cast in glass! Check out photos from the workshop in Prague that pulled off this incredible feat!

In Spring 2012, after several months of attempting to cast the totem in glass, FireArt Glass in Portland was unable to create a successful version.  The sheer volume of glass required to cast a totem of this size makes it not only difficult to manouver, but extremely volatile to cool evenly.  The type of glass used at FireArt may also have been a factor in the instability of the totem.


In the summer, Preston then contacted Charles Parriott, a longtime friend and colleague with professional ties to the glass community in the Czech Republic, to take over as project manager.  Almost immediately, we shipped the original wooden totem to the Czech Republic, where Art Fabrication Services EU set to work taking yet another mold from the totem.  


They used a tested and approved method of casting monumental glass that was pioneered for massive pieces by Jaroslava Brychtová and Stanislav Libenský in the 1950s.  They used a special kind of lead crystal to cast the totem, in a vivid light amber color, which would allow for the best light transmission and internal refraction.  It would also be much less likely to form bubbles during cooling in the annealer, but this feature came at a cost: the totem sections would have to cool in the annealer for three months.  During that time, the technicians would not be able to check on the sections to see if they had cooled correctly or exploded due to instability.


At the beginning of January 2013, Preston and Charlie traveled to Prague to see what those three anxious months of annealing would produce.  What came out was better than they had imagined.  The totem glows as if from within when lit, though it is solid and nearly 2 feet deep.  The final size is over seven feet tall and it weighs 2,000 pounds!


The photos above show the Czech technicians cleaning up the surface of the totem, to allow the original carving marks to be more prominent.  They have spent the last 6 weeks completing the surface preparation and testing the glass for stress and structural integrity. The photo of the two top sections (the bear on the hat) show the variation in color that happens when the back of the totem section is hollowed out, as in a traditional carved totem.  Preston has decided the richness of the color of the solid version is preferrable.



Yesterday, Preston and Charlie, along with Dante Marioni and our photographer Russell Johnson, flew back to the Czech Republic to give final approval for the totem and to visit other glass studios and schools.  Preston will be speaking tomorrow at the Ajeto Art Glass Museum in Nový Bor.

When they return, we will have some wonderful photos by Russell Johnson to share with you!

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