Eric Markow (left) and Thom Norris (right) with their Paragon Pearl-56. Photo by Marni Harker.
Eric Markow and Thom Norris are noted for creating woven glass kimonos, which have been called “impossibly beautiful.” The kimonos weigh an average of 125 pounds. Eric and Thom fire their glass in nine Paragon kilns. “Now that we’ve done all our testing, and have actually cooked sculpture in the Pearl-56, it is our favorite kiln and we love the even, consistent heat,” they said.
Q. When were you introduced to glass fusing?
A. Thom: In 2002, our good friend Nancy Weisser (also our glass distributor) invited us to attend a class involving glass powders in a kiln. We were completely absorbed by the glass making process and intended to purchase a kiln to make our own colorful custom glass for our windows. Once we started playing with the warm/hot glass, we never made another stained-glass window. We now have nine Paragon kilns.
Q. Who are the most interesting glass teachers you have studied under?
A. Thom: We are mostly self-taught when it comes to the development of our woven glass technique. However, we relied heavily on educators like Nancy Weisser and others associated with her teaching studio to help us through the two to three years of trial and error experiments.
Q. Please describe how you moved the Paragon Pearl-56 down the stairs. How long did that take? (The Pearl-56 is a clamshell kiln with a 16 cubic foot, 30” wide x 56” long interior.)
A. We had to move our Pearl-56 from our main floor garage, around the back of our house, and into our newly built basement studio with eight stairs at the entrance.
The 36” door opening was too small for the intact kiln. So we disconnected the top of the Pearl from the bottom. Then each separate section was carried by six very strong, young guys (body builder guys from the gym) across our back yard and down the basement stairs. We had plywood in the yard so they could set the pieces down half way to rest.
The top weighs approximately 500 pounds and the bottom 900 pounds. We had to turn each half on its side and place it on sliders to push it through the three doorway openings to get to the kiln room. The kiln sections would barely fit through the doorways, so the guys had to push and pull from either end. We had half an inch of clearance on either side through the smallest doorway. We reconnected it and fired it up for the first time, and it has worked beautifully ever since. In the future we must sell our house to glass artists since we don't ever want to move it again!
Q. How did you celebrate the accomplishment?
A. We invited all our friends and neighbors over to pat us on the back and tell us how impressed they were with our sheer strength and determination. Okay, maybe we eventually told them we had a “little” help.
Winter Twilight Kimono by Markow & Norris. The partners fire their glass in Paragon kilns. Photo by Javier Agostinelli.