Art-A-Whirl is one of the great late-spring weekend outings across Northeast Minneapolis, and for Shoshana Englard, she used to be able cover rent for a year selling her glass artwork. After a prolonged absence following a breast cancer diagnosis, Englander has been preparing new pieces with a new focus in an overhauled gallery space in Northeast.
“This is my restart,” she said. “I took everything out of my studio and it’s redone.”
Art-A-Whirl is a free event, and over the first 20 years of the event, it has become the largest open studio tour in the country.
Englard had been an opthomolgist for years with glass-making a hobby. As she began to give up her private practices, first in Buffalo, Minn., and then later in St. Paul, she began to devote more and more time to her art.
Now, Englard and her husband live on 40 acres near Stacy, Minn., on the border of Isanti and Anoka counties. The basement is a hobbyists playground, most of it for Designs by Shoshana. Here’s how her pieces come to life.
Englard starts with hundreds of glass strings — picture dry spaghetti noodles. She shuffles them around repeatedly to make sure that she doesn’t have two the same color twice in a row.
“Glass comes in all different different forms,” she says, pointing to a long table full of jars. “Powdered, fine, medium and coarse.” She sprinkles on the color she wants to match the color palette she’s looking for.
When it’s done, she puts the completed project into one of her nine kilns. When it comes out, she has a roughly 18 inch by 18 inch square of colored glass. For one of her projects, she made at least three such trays and cut them into three-eighths inch strips. She’s working on arranging — and rearranging — them into a 4-foot long tower that will eventually be a wall hanging.
“Everyone thinks of glass art as blown glass,” she said. At her Northeast Minneapolis gallery space in the Northrup King Building, she has plenty of blown-glass vases. Many of her newer pieces are of the fused-glass variety. “Look at all of the things you can do with glass. This is completely different than what I’ve done before.”