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Published: 6/10/2012

GLASS ART SOCIETY

Conference to close with sparkling fashion show

BY RONEISHA MULLEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Glass costumes can take anywhere from two hours to two years to design. Glass costumes can take anywhere from two hours to two years to design.
JONREIS.COM/GARY HODGES ©2009, JON REIS PHOTO + DESIGN Enlarge

Dresses and gowns, rare head pieces, and one-of-a-kind lingerie will appear on the runway in one of the most unusual fashion shows imaginable.

Models will strut the catwalk wearing unique designs in bright colors and odd shapes made from a material least likely to be associated with clothing -- glass.

The Glass Fashion Show will take place at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Huntington Center. The private event will close out the 2012 Glass Art Society Conference. Supporters of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo can purchase wristbands for the event for $50 through Wednesday.

The show will feature costumes designed by artists and designers from around the world, including Turkey, Japan, Ireland, Canada, France, and Toledo.

"We are fascinated with the material of glass. Once you learn how to work with it, it's magical," said Laura Donefer, a Canadian-American glass artist and coordinator of the show. "Some of these costumes, you have to see it to believe it."

READ MORE: Transformations -- 50 years of glass art

Designers will use everything from blown and flame-worked glass to recycled glass and mirrors. The only requirement is that at least half of the costume be glass.

"You can go to a recycle bin and get wine glasses and attach them to a fabric or a mold. You can wear a glass bowl," said Ms. Donefer, 56, of Ontario, Canada. "Whatever is in a glass artist's imagination."

As an artist and glass instructor at the Toledo Museum of Art, Kelly Sheehan is used to working with glass but not creating fashions out of it.

Mrs. Sheehan teamed with Diane Phillips, a trustee for the arts commission and a glass collector, to design an outfit for the show. For more than a year, the women have been working on the design, which consists of a corsetlike top with purple, red, and blue sculpted glass flowers affixed.

"It should be pretty knockout," Mrs. Sheehan said.

Glass costumes can take anywhere from two hours to two years to design, and some weigh more than 50 pounds.

"That is probably the biggest challenge we face. Glass is heavy," said Mrs. Sheehan, 54. She and Mrs. Phillips used electrical wiring covered in muslin to hold the flowers in place.

Anything goes at the show, which will feature live music and strobe lights, dancing, food, and more.

Specialty tools such as spears, blow pipes, and torches are used to design costumes, which in the past have included a chandelier skirt, glass-covered robes, glass body adornments, and much more.

Volunteers will help with organizing the event, and stylists from Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy in Sylvania Township will do hair and makeup.

Several of the costumes will be auctioned and cost anywhere from $50 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the designer, Ms. Donefer said.

When it comes to the models, "anyone can participate," said Ms. Donefer, whose 80-year-old mother will don a glass costume in the show. Previous shows have featured drag queens, exotic dancers, seniors, and children. There's just one rule: They must wear shoes.

"People will be dancing wildly. Glass breaks and flies," Ms. Donefer said. "You must wear shoes."

Photographers will capture the Glass Fashion Show for a book Ms. Donefer is planning.

Saturday's show is the ninth and the first to be held in Toledo. "I have some incredible surprises planned for this show. Things I've never done," Ms. Donefer. "People work with wood and it's beautiful, but glass is alive."

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.



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