Looking Back on 35 Years of Annieglass

That’s impossible-35 years! I spend too much time looking ahead to look back too often but here it goes with some highlights.

I do look back with a lot of gratitude for the people who helped me get there and continue too * I will save that list for the end of this story. I feel pretty fortunate to stay in business this long working with people that support and inspire me. My proudest work accomplishment is the length of time they have worked at Annieglass. My proudest accomplishment personally is, of course, my children, Taylor and Ava Reinhold. Just like with Annieglass, I had help making them too.

Annie learning her craft in 1978.

When I started sharing an art studio with the painter and draftsmen Dick Oppenchain in the Old Sash Mill in 1980 I was a recent art school graduate working for a glass gallery in Capitola by day and slumping glass in my 2 kilns at night. I had way more passion than sense! Certainly more passion than money because I remember quitting one job for another because I could not get a raise from $4.50 an hour.

Company photo at the Old Sash Mill.

My first employee was Joe Morehead. I offered him a job when he walked by my studio and stopped to look at a map of NYC I was throwing away. I was desperate for help with my first big order, frantic I would miss the shipping date. He was working next door and was on his way to the bathroom. He came back with a new job working for me. When he showed up the next day I had no idea what to do at lunchtime….do I make him lunch? Buy it for him? Take him out for it? He taught me how to drink coffee and we powered through many orders in no time; making plates, loading kilns and packing them still hot while UPS waited at the door to take them away.

My milestones of success were very simple- I was so thrilled to have a phone with 2 phone lines. What joy that gave me, even though I didn’t have all that much reason to need 2 lines- I didn’t have all that many customers yet to be honest. But I delighted in knowing that I could use the HOLD button and put anyone I wanted on HOLD, especially when my mother called from New Jersey.

One of the other milestones was realizing the company was getting large enough that I could no longer keep using the drive up window at my local bank to make deposits. I needed to use the merchant window and act a little more like a business owner and less like an artist. The only other times I went inside was when I rode my bike there….this was before ATM machines.

Watching my first case of glass go through the Old Sash Mill boardwalk was quite a different kind of thrill- all 4500 pounds of it. My thought was “Do I still have to pay for it if its all broken?” To be honest, the first check bounced and the owner liked to remind me of it when “I got too fancy.” They were very proud I used their glass to make my plates that are in the Smithsonian permanent collection.

Now that’s a good story. I threw away the letter that informed me. I assumed it was a practical joke from one of my 3 older brothers. Luckily my manager fished it out of the trash and made me open it. He had to do that again when an invitation to the White House arrived. In my defense, all I can say is that I receive a lot of junk mail, and now spam.

Being referred to by the Smithsonian curators as “a living Smithsonian artist” was rather unnerving- no it was very unnerving. One of these days I will have a t-shirt made up with the accession numbers for Coquina #1996.87.3 and Tiburon #1996.87.1 on permanent display in the Luce Collection of American Art inside the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

Coquina & Tiburon

I am looking forward to continued experimentation with technology, especially water jet. I have a list: improving working with recycled glass, re-starting and expanding the artists in residence program, freedom to make mistakes and lots of them, discovering more ways to make glass and applying for more patents and using jewels in my new designs are some of the thoughts at this writing. Thank you for the many years of encouragement and support.

*Sherlyn Torres

Michael Reinhold

Edna Sorensen, Ignacio Moran, Ivy Chew, Lloyd Lambert, Bill Ker, Paul Lerner, Isabelle Brightman, Teresa Zolar, Irene Higa, Heather Turlock


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