Showing For: July, 2011


It is our pleasure to present a monumental project, nearly 3 years in the making to date: a 7 foot tall 3-dimensional totem.

It is our pleasure to present a monumental project, nearly 3 years in the making to date: a 7 foot tall 3-dimensional totem.

The project began in early 2009 when Preston and his longtime friend and collaborator, woodcarver David Svenson, co-designed a full-scale totem depicting a beloved family story about Preston’s great-grandmother as a child.

Preston's Great-Grandparents, Susie and Dionesio Gubatayao

They went out into the woods those uncles.  They were out gathering food.  That’s when they came across a bear out there in the woods.  They shot that bear, but what they didn’t know was that it was a mother bear that came in between the uncles and the cubs.  That is what happened.

They shot that bear and then they saw the cubs.  They took those cubs back to the village Douglas.  That is what they called it at that time.  That is where my great grandmother lived.  She was called Susie Johnson.  She lived there at that time.  She was a young girl then.  She was young.

She liked that bear cub that they uncles brought there.  She wanted that bear cub as her pet.  Her parents wanted her to be happy so they let her keep that bear cub at home.  She kept it at home and raised it like one might have a dog.  My great grandmother, Susie, loved that bear!  What a thing to have a grizzly bear for a pet!  She would get food for that hear and feed it, and take care of it.  She made a bed for that bear and it lived there with the family.

There was a woman who was Russian.  There were a lot of Russians there.  She made taffy and would sell it in the streets.  When she sold it in the streets, the bear would smell the taffy.  That bear loved the taffy that it would get from my great grandmother.

Every time that Russian woman would go through the street with that taffy, the bear would smell it.  After a while she wanted to get that bear some more taffy, so she went to get some berries from the fields at the base of the mountains.  She took those berries back to the village.  She had those berries that she sold for money to buy taffy.  That’s how she got taffy for that bear.

After a while that bear got big.  Too big to keep around the house.  The bear was getting too dangerous and big to keep.  So her uncles took it back to the woods.  They left that bear in the woods so it wouldn’t hurt anyone in the village.  She cried when they took that bear away.  She cried, but after a while she knew why the uncles took that bear away.  Because it was getting too big.  Even after it was gone, she cried sometimes.  My great grandmother loved that bear.  – Preston Singletary, 2001

Family Story Totem, 2004


Preston found inspiration from this story and produced a small table-top scale glass totem depicting it in 1998. He has revisited the form several times over the years, but this project will be the definitive physical embodiment of the tale. 

From early 2009 to earlier this year, Svenson carved the design into a large log of red cedar.  Molds were then taken of the carving to produce a plaster version for further casting.  The totem exists now in its original wooden form, here in the Seattle studio, and as a monumental bronze – just produced by Bronzesmith Fine Art Foundry for the outdoor sculpture market, available through Blue Rain Gallery.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll unveil photos of the carving and casting processes, as well as images of the finished wood and bronze totems.  This will all lead up to the goal of the project: a full-scale solid cast glass version, the prototype of which is currently being tested by master caster Ray Ahlgren at Fireart Glass in Portland, Oregon.

Stay tuned for more!

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To give you a peek into the daily workings of the studio, here are some photos taken by our favorite photographer, Russell Johnson, of our three full-time artist’s assistants: Brittaney Shanta, Terri Rau, and Maurice Caldwell.

Here at Preston Singletary Glass, we work with many talented artists and technicians. Over the next several months, we will be introducing you to the team members.

To give you a peek into the daily workings of the studio, here are some photos taken by our favorite photographer, Russell Johnson, of our three full-time artist’s assistants: Brittaney Shanta, Terri Rau, and Maurice Caldwell.  They’re busy working on pieces for the upcoming collaborative exhibition between Preston and his longtime friend Dante Marioni, to be premiered at SOFA Chicago and presented by Blue Rain Gallery of Santa Fe, New Mexico!


Brittaney Shanta, pattern cutting and weeding:


Terri Rau, basket weaving and sandblasting:


Maurice Caldwell, basket design and piece preparation:





Dante and Preston have been friends since high school – with Dante introducing Preston to glass art – but this is the first time the have professionally collaborated.  The resulting pieces embody the strengths of both artists: the intricate canework, elegant vessel forms, and traditional Italian techniques of Marioni, combined with the strong formline design, Native American symbolism, and dynamic sandcarving of Singletary.   Look for images of the finished work here in November, and for sale via Blue Rain Gallery!

All photos © Russell Johnson, 2011.

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RAVEN AND THE BOX OF KNOWLEDGE: Preston Singletary for Pendleton

Preston Singletary was commissioned to create the 2011 American Indian College Fund Blanket for Pendleton Woolen Mills.

In March of this year, Pendleton Woolen Mills unveiled their newest blanket in their American Indian College Fund Series.  Raven and the Box of Knowlege was designed by Preston Singletary.

From Pendleton’s website:  ”This intriguing blanket is based on a work by internationally renowned glass artist Preston Singletary. Mr. Singletary grew up in the Pacific Northwest – both of his great-grandparents were full-blooded Tlingit Indians. His works explore traditional images and legends of his Tlingit heritage translated into glass. The image on this blanket represents Raven, a shape shifter and trickster who often employed crafty schemes to achieve his goals. In the story, the old chief who lived at the head of the Nass River kept his precious treasures – the sun, the moon and the stars – in beautifully carved boxes. Raven steals the light, and making his escape carries the sun in his mouth. The sun is a metaphor for enlightenment or knowledge. The ombred background shades meet in the center in vibrant colors of sun and light. Mr. Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC to the Handelsbanken in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Art Museum. A portion of the proceeds from this blanket will be donated to the American Indian College Fund to help support tribal colleges. Unnapped. Felt-bound. 82% pure virgin wool/18% cotton. Dry clean. Made in the USA. 64 x 80 inches.”

Click here to order one for yourself!

American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund raises money for 32 tribal colleges that serve 30,000 students representing 250 native tribes. The fund disburses approximately 5,000 scholarships annually for American Indian students seeking to better their lives through continued education. The tribal colleges play a vital role in the futures of Native American people, our country and, ultimately, people everywhere. For over 100 years, Pendleton Woolen Mills has maintained a mutual respect for our original customers, Native Americans. That is one of the many reasons we are pleased to support this important philanthropic partnership. When you purchase any blanket from our American Indian College Fund Collection, a portion of the proceeds goes to help tribal colleges throughout the country. To find out more about the American Indian College Fund, call 1-800-776-3863, or visit

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Preston's installation at the Wing Luke Museum on display through September 18, 2011.

Earlier this year, Preston was invited to participate in an exciting exhibition at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, entitled Cultural Confluence - On display through September 18, 2011.

From the Wing Luke website: “The historic legacies and contemporary lives of people who are both Asian and Native American come together for the first time in this exhibition. Through a mix of contemporary art, new media and storytelling, Cultural Confluence explores what it means to be Native in the city at a time when nearly two thirds of Native Americans live away from their tribal reservations and ancestral homes.”

Inspired by curio shelves and collectors of Native Art from the early 20th Century, Preston created a unique installation of glass work, items from his personal collection of “Indian Kitsch,” hand tinted enlargements of vintage postcards, and a hand tinted portrait of Preston in Tlingit regalia by Russell Johnson.

Also included is the first proof-blanket off the loom from his collaboration with Pendleton Woolen Mills, which you can learn about in the next blog post!

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New commission installed at Seattle University!

Last Friday, July 8, Preston and his friend/colleague Joe Benvenuto installed his latest commission at the A&A Building at Seattle University.  You can see it on the new building at 12th Avenue and Marion Street on Capitol Hill.

From the future plaque, to be dedicated in September:

Preston Singletary (Tlingit, b. 1963)
Transformations, 2011
7.5 feet x 5.5 feet
Water jet-cut aluminum, powder coated enamel, water jet-cut flat glass, and steel
Commissioned by Seattle University
This piece is an abstract composition that highlights the flow of the lines, shapes, and methodical patterning within the Northwest Coast design system known as formline.  These design elements have been used for centuries by the culture to represent the natural world in carved and painted objects.

Here, the shapes and lines are showcased in a monumental fashion, removed from the traditional figurative portrayals of animals; this serves to highlight the concept that these elements are at the root of the design system and show that their power and beauty transcends representational composition.

The colors of this piece are derived from the traditional palette of Northwest Coast art: red and black. The yellow and blue come from the Chilkat weaving tradition, and are inspired by natural plant- and mineral-based pigments, which are used by the peoples of the Northwest Coast.

In addition to his Northwest Native cultural heritage, Singletary derives inspiration from decorative and modern art from the 1930s and 1940s, Primitivism and contemporary art.

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