A Dog Team of Glass

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Several years ago, Canadian glassblower Luann Baker-Johnson found a seasoned treasure at an old, abandoned trapper’s cabin near the Yukon Quest trail in Canada.

“There was a dry stream that once flowed through that area. Nearby, I found hand-hewed timbers,” she said.

While someone had originally shaped the wood for function, she said that time and nature re-purposed the wood for beauty.

“I brought some timbers back thinking that, some day, they could be used for something fabulous.”

That “some day” has become the 2019 annual Yukon Quest auction, which helps support the 1,000-mile international sled-dog race.

That “something fabulous” is a six-dog sled team made from blown and sculpted glass. The entire piece is several feet in length with dogs in every hue of purple laying down, sitting and rearing to go. Ribbons of iridescence weave sparkle throughout the team-in-waiting.

The piece rests on one of the timbers, which represents the rich history of mushing in the Yukon and its importance to those who lived there.

Baker-Johnson worked with fellow glassblowers at her business, Lumel Studios, in Whitehorse, Yukon to create the mixed-media artwork as a donation item for the auction.

“A piece of like this - this is not one person,” she said. “We put all of our hearts in it. We discussed the piece and we all played a part in the creation of this - it’s a team piece.”

In addition to the timber, the group drew inspiration from the 2019 Yukon Quest poster by artist Gorellaume. It features an ink and watercolor illustration of a musher and dogs racing through the snow.

“We said this year we’re going to do something incredibly wonderful” she said. “We looked at the poster and came up with a dog team that I think the artist of this poster would appreciate.”

Fellow glassblower Mark Steudle said the project challenged the group structurally. He was responsible for two of the six dogs, infusing them with personality and a story.

“One is a young up and comer ready to go,” he said.

“The other, my favorite, is an old-time racer.” The artwork is valued at $2,500, but the team hopes it will fetch much more at the auction.

Lumel Studios is also donating two other items at lower price points.

“We usually try to give multiples of three, something that is in everyone’s price category,” said Baker-Johnson, who is a mom and grandmom. “If a child loves a piece, I want them to be able to have the means to take their allowance and to bid on it.”

Lumel Studios has been supporting the Yukon Quest as a sponsor since the business opened in 2016.

As a life-long Yukoner, Baker-Johnson said it’s important to support Yukon-based events, especially ones that dovetail with the mission of Lumel Studios.

The studio’s team sells art, teaches classes and, like the Yukon Quest, looks to engage the community in an activity where people of all ages and backgrounds can challenge themselves and grow.

“The partnership between Lumel Studios and the Yukon Quest is one of common beliefs,” she said.

The artists who contributed to this piece are Dave Martin, Mark Streudle, Angus Harder, Tyson Isted, Ankeeta Patel, and Luann Baker-Johnson