Glass artists assemble at Salem Community College

Salem Community College in New Jersey held its annual International Flameworking Conference March 22-24, attracting approximately 300 glass artists and glass art enthusiasts from 18 states and Canada. 


This year’s featured artist was Vittorio Costantini of Venice, Italy, who has spent a lifetime perfecting multi-colored insects, iridescent butterflies, birds and sea life in glass, making them look as if they’ve just been plucked from nature.


The renowned artist always had an innate fascination for nature; it offers him inspiration and challenge.  His subject matter illustrates his love for the ecology of the Venetian lagoon and his highly developed technical skills.


“The pieces I choose to make are more difficult,” he said.  “I like the challenge.”


For example, the body of one of Costantini’s insects (for which he is well known) is comprised of 21 segments that must be fused together.


In his strive for excellence, Costantini says he constantly thinks of ways to improve his art.  “My mind is always on glass,” he said.  “At night, I dream of glassmaking.  When I wake up, I tell my wife, I figured out how to make that (piece).”


He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Italy and abroad.  Last year, Costantini exhibited at the Museo del Vetro in Murano and Musée de France Opale Sud in Berck-sur-Mer, France.  Following the IFC, Costantini and conference chair Paul J. Stankard taught a three-day masters class at the College’s Glass Education Center.


In addition to Costantini, Abe Fleishman -- general manager, partner and product developer at Northstar Glassworks -- was a featured presenter.  The event also included demonstrations by artists Eunsuh Choi, Micah Evans, Kim Fields and Gateson Recko, as well a panel discussion on orbs with Fleishman, Recko, Sheila Morley and Kenan Tiemeyer, moderated by Jenna Efrein. 


Now in its 13th year, the conference stays fresh by attracting an exciting mix of established and up-and-coming artists to share their visions each year, according to Stankard.  It remains true to its themes of promoting excellence and providing education, he added, noting the event provides important opportunities for students in SCC’s glass programs. 


“The IFC complements their SCC education,” continued Stankard.  “Our students want to establish careers in glass; this reinforces their commitment to mastering their craft while concentrating on their academic foundation.”


Salem Community College offers the nation’s only two-year degree in scientific glass technology, as well as a glass art degree.  SCC’s internationally recognized glass programs attract students from across the country.  Glass students learn in a 10,000-square-foot, state-of-art facility that uses methane gas recovered from a nearby landfill as an energy source.  The green facility with equipment powered by landfill gas is only the second of its kind on the East Coast. 


The International Flameworking Conference is made possible by the Salem Community College Foundation with generous support by ABR Imagery; Bethlehem Apparatus Co., Inc.; Carlisle Machine Works, Inc.; Chemglass Life Sciences, LLC; EU Glass, Inc.; High Volume Oxygen; International Society of Glass Beadmakers; Robert M. Minkoff Foundation; Northstar Glassworks, Inc.; SJ Venture Capital Co.; The Flow/Glass Art Magazines; Wale Apparatus Co., Inc.; and WheatonArts and Cultural Center.  The conference also is also funded in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State through the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission/Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders.


For information about the IFC and SCC’s glass programs, visit