Worldwide Wednesday – Michael Janis, Glass Artist

July 9, 2014 — 10 Comments

For this week’s Worldwide Wednesday we are heading back to America, this time to Washington, D.C to meet a man that has worked around the world in a variety of creative genres.

As before I should start by formally introducing you. Readers, this is Michael Janis.

Michael Janis

As mentioned in last week’s post, the questions are the same for each Worldwide Wednesday participant, so I was quite excited when Michael’s email came through and I couldn’t wait to start reading, so without any further delay here is what Michael had to say…

Please can you provide a brief introduction to yourself, where in the world you are and let everyone know what you currently do in the arts/crafts industry.

I am a glass artist from Washington, D.C., and am one of the Co-Directors of the Washington Glass School. I work with all manners of kiln-fomed glass. I like to use crushed glass frit powder to create detailed imagery fused into glass.

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 3.frit.powder.drawing

When did you begin working in the creative industry and what was the seminal or defining moment that put you on that path?

Originally, I was an architect for 20 years, in the USA and in Australia. As an architect in Australia, I was fascinated by the way the artists were working with glass, and began to use cast glass in architectural fit-outs. An early glass project for me was the design for the British Consulate in Brisbane, Australia. For the formal entry, I envisioned a dimensionally cast UK coat of arms in back painted glass, surrounded by native Australian wood panels.

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 1.British_Consulate.australia

As an architect, I wanted the glass to do many things at once, and the glass studio invited me to come and see the process, so I could better understand what I was specifying. After that, I was hooked – glass increasingly became the featured element in my designs. Years later, when returning to the US, I made the big switch and began a new phase in my life as a glass artist.

Is what you do now what you imagined you would be doing when you first started out?

Not at all what I imagined, but then I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea that any of what was coming. One opportunity always seemed to lead to the next. I was lucky to have relocated to a city that is, on the surface, a bureaucratic jungle – which Washington, DC indeed, is – but upon closer examination, has a thriving arts and craft scene. Washington also is Sister City to Sunderland, England, and we began establishing a connection to the UK’s National Glass Centre and the glass artists from the North East.

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 4.michael_janis.jeffery_sarimento.sunderland_uni

Thinking back through the years, what memorable responses have you had to your work?

In the US, there is a satirical newspaper called ‘The Onion’. The local sections review the arts in the area, and they once did a story on the Washington, DC glass scene, using my artwork on the cover thumbnail – with the story tag: “Creepiest F****** Windows Ever”. A proud moment.

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 5.michael_janis

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 6.michael_janis

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 7.michael_janis

What has been most important to you as an artist or crafter – a mentor, support, knowledge, advice, information, funding, family, friends … etc?

As an artist – mentor, support, knowledge, funding, etc are ALL important. In my case, I’ve mixed funding and family to be the most important element. My wife (and her job) gave me the necessary support (emotional and financial) to get knowledge and join the glass world.

How have you changed during your career and do you see room for more changes in the coming years?

My work has become more personal in its content, and I see my work constantly evolving.

Who/What inspires you?

Day to day life inspires me – I attempt to view all aspects of life as inspiration, and I think it can come from anywhere. I don’t let external influences tell me what’s good inspiration and what’s not. Anything could be good inspiration, the boring, the adventurous, the monotonous, the good, the bad, all of it,.

How would you describe a creative life? Fun, challenging, rewarding … etc?

A creative life involves risk. One learns from the mistakes (hopefully) and keep going forward.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have many things going on in various states of completion. I am preparing to teach out at Penland School of Craft in August, finishing up two separate collaborative architectural glass public art projects, one by commissioned by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities for a new healthcare facility and one commissioned by a nearby suburban city council for a courthouse plaza. I also am in the midst of developing artworks for an exhibition– Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (S.O.F.A.) at Chicago’s Navy Pier later in the year.

What future project(s) are you most looking forward to?

I’ve been asked to teach a master class in Swansea in early 2015 – which would be a hoot!

What are you doing when you’re not creating? What hobbies (creative or non-creative) do you have?

All my energy goes into the studio. I see everything in my life as one -I don’t like to make separations. Everything gets the same level of care and intensity; my life is one project.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I am a bit OCD, and I really like to just get things done. Oh wait… everyone knows that.

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?

Surround yourself with creative people –not only people labelled as creatives but also those who innately have a creative/artistic soul – some of the most artistic and creative people I have met have been accountants/engineers/IT people.

Where else can we find you? (Blog, website, twitter, facebook etc)

Ok, having seen Michael’s work, I couldn’t resist sharing a few more of the images that he sent me as they are so incredible!

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 2.public_art.sculpture

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 8.michael_janis

Worldwide Wednesday - Michael Janis - 9.michael_janis

Well, I don’t know about you but I am truly inspired by Michael and his work. What did you think?

Ok, well dear readers, I could have stayed longer but sadly that’s it for this week’s trip. It’s time to out the towels back and whip out those passports for the trip home.

Please feel free to leave comments/feedback etc in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you next week – where will we be heading next time?!

J :)

10 responses to Worldwide Wednesday – Michael Janis, Glass Artist


    How interesting John. What a talented man he is. His work is amazing-some a little far out for my taste but fascinating.
    Love Val in Spain x



    once again John you have piqued our interest. Brilliant interview and very interesting. I found it fascinating too to see things like this that I never knew existed. keep up the good work John. More please. Look forward to the next instalment. Maria



    Thanks for that John, very interesting Michael is a really talented guy. x



    It is a brilliant interview, you are introducing us to the artist’s and crafts which a rarely heard about, thank you so much thoroughly enjoyed it x



    Hi John,

    Michael’s work is fantastic and I love his philosophy about his life being a project. A very nice perspective and one I can only aspire to!

    Thanks for your series on artists/creatives. It continue to inspire.

    All the best.




    Hi John

    Fascinating insight into a little known craft. I’m really enjoying this series of interviews.

    Crafty hugs

    T x



    Brilliant interview John! I have dabbled in the world of stained glass and kiln formed glass, have a very good collection of different types of glass which i purchased from Pearsons in Liverpool but am unable to play with anymore. It is a pleasure to just sit and look at it sometimes.

    It is quite something to see how he uses crushed frit for detailed work, his work is awesome.

    Really enjoyed this weeks interview, looking forward to your next one :-)



    Great work – more please



    Wow fabulous artwork there. I tend to like zany stuff. I loved the disc with 2 heads a pipe and eye in the middle. What a very clever and artistic chap, he seems a lot of fun.
    Love and Light
    Sioux x



    Love the arch and Embassy pieces and even the red hat, not sure about the more abstract content ( but that is personal taste). The overall work is amazing and inspirational. Thank you Jon.


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