Beautiful hand-crafted pottery communion ware has been created in the past for each triennial gathering, often using a local artist. When planning began for the Tenth Triennial Gathering, with its All Anew theme, a different medium was considered: glass.
So began a journey that led to Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts and Alli Luhmann, a young glass artist working in Minneapolis.
Luhmann has hand-blown 50 chalices, wide cup glasses with a splash of blue color emanating from the bottom up. Because of the glass-blowing process, no two chalices are exactly alike.
The patens created by Luhmann use a different process, melding fine glass powder in a design similar to the gathering’s logo, featured on clear glass. Each one is unique, too.
“I am so excited to receive this commission,” said Luhmann. “Even if I have to work a million hours I feel like the luckiest person in the world to get paid to do what I love and trained to do.”
Luhmann initially took a glassblowing class in college because she needed an art credit for her intended degree in architecture. That class changed her life.
She became consumed by glassblowing, apprenticing under Michael Body, founder of Foci, and “learned from and worked for anyone I could as an assistant. In that way, my training has been very traditional,” Luhmann said.
“It’s an addictive process and the material allows for endless possibilities. There is no end to learning. That’s one of the biggest appeals.”
Glassblowing, Luhmann said, is male dominated, even though there are more women in the profession now than in the past.
“It is not at all an exaggeration to say that women in glassblowing continue to face barriers to opportunities and professional accolades,” she said. “I’m still in disbelief as to the things I’ve encountered. In fact, there are still many factories in Europe that do not allow women to work as glassblowers.”
Sets of the commemorative communion ware (one chalice, one paten) are available for purchase. Those who have already registered online for the gathering can update their registration to include the purchase of a set of the communion ware. If any sets remain available once the gathering begins, participants can purchase the sets onsite at the registration desk.
The glass communion ware will be used at the opening and closing worship services of the Tenth Triennial Gathering, July 13-16, in Minneapolis. Luhmann will be available at the opening reception of the gathering to meet participants.
Photo of All Anew paten & chalice by Elizabeth McBride