During a trip to Italy several years ago, Silvia Taylor observed a Venetian glass master hot sculpting — a delicate, labour-intensive process involving the gathering and shaping of molten glass using special tools. It was at the moment she realized what glass could offer.

"It was really inspiring and something I could relate to, coming from the drawing and design aspect of art as well as the hands-on," she recalls.

Now enrolled in Sheridan College's crafts and design program for glass, Taylor is already receiving recognition for her work in bridging those two worlds. The second-year student was announced last month as the winner of the Watershed Award Design Competition, presented by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).


The Watershed Awards were created to recognize Canadian municipalities that have demonstrated leadership in efforts to reduce their vulnerability to storm and wastewater damage. Each of five winning municipalities will receive an award created by Taylor at a Toronto ceremony May 29.

For Taylor, her decision to enter the design competition had a personal connection: "Both my parents worked with environmental issues." Over two weeks, she brainstormed and produced rough sketches of ways to match the meaning of the award with visual elements.

Her final design proposed a sculpture of transparent blue glass that would include a background of "waves," with a sandy texture to evoke the concept of water and erosion. The majority of the structure would be polished with crisp edges, to represent the barricades that are used to prevent erosion.

Taylor's proposal took top prize among nearly a dozen submissions from Sheridan glass students. Judges for the IBC and FCM lauded her design for being "simple" and "elegant."

The awards are now being crafted by Taylor and a small team of Sheridan peers and faculty in the school's studio.

Koen Vanderstukken, professor and glass studio head, says competitions like this can give students valuable real-world exposure. "You can show everything in theory, but it's only when you really get into the practical, everyday reality of running a business or applying for an award or whatsoever, that you get confronted with all the little specific details."

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