Our 2014 pilgrimage to Corning Museum of Glass brought us in front of Dominick Labino’s Ionic Structure of Glass, 5 feet across, set into a wall, backlit and glowing like a rose window. It hasn’t been on display for 15 years, since the first renovation of the Corning Museum.
Labino was an industrial engineer who held 60 patents and loved glass. Harvey Littleton invited him to the original workshops at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962, where American Studio Glassmaking began. Littleton’s furnace wouldn’t melt the glass, and Labino used his scientific and research knowledge to overcome this, as well as learning glass blowing in the process. The idea of making glass in a craft studio rather than a factory was exciting stuff. In fabulous fluidity between art and science, Labino retired early from his Vice Presidency of the Johns-Manville Fiber Glass Corporation, and started creating art glass. He had the chemistry skills to develop his own colors rather than remelting commercially made glass, as he described in his book Visual Art in Glass, and a love of the unlimited possibilities of color in art.