Original Glass from National Aviary’s Tropical Rainforest Repurposed as Exquisite Heirloom Art by Pittsburgh Glass Artist


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As $1.2 million Tropical Rainforest renovation progresses, original 1952 glass panes are being handcut, fused and molded into one-of-a-kind pieces of art available for purchase


PITTSBURGH – June 19, 2018 –  Panes of historic glass originally made for the National Aviary’s Tropical Rainforest when it opened in 1952 are being repurposed as limited edition heirloom art pieces by local artist Meeghan Triggs, owner of Atelier Fused Glass and Mosaics in Pittsburgh.  The 66-year old panes of industrial window glass are being handcut and repurposed into beautiful fused glass pieces that include intricate bowls, plates, wing sculptures and trivets. The one-of-a-kind pieces are available for purchase at the National Aviary gift shop, at prices ranging from $48 to $498.

To create the finished pieces, Triggs, who received her BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and studied at The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland, begins by hand-cutting each individual sheet of window glass, and laying out the pieces into the desired designs.  The glass is then fired in a glass kiln to approximately 1430 degrees for almost 12 hours to melt the glass together in a process known as fusing. After the first firing, selected pieces are fired a second time, using molds to shape the glass into plates, bowls, and other pieces. This process, called slumping, reheats the glass to 1175 degrees and requires an additional 15 hours in the kiln.  

“By offering these exquisite, handcrafted pieces of art, we are able to give the public the opportunity to own a unique piece of Pittsburgh and National Aviary history,” says National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy. “We are thrilled to work with Ms. Triggs, whose artistry and skill has instilled each piece with its own individual beauty.”

Limited edition items available for purchase include Mother Nature’s Nesting Bowls, Feather and Butterfly Plates, Penguin and Sloth Trivets, and Wing Sculptures.

All 3,146 original panes of glass ― comprising 19,600 square feet ― that form the walls and curved roof structure of the Tropical Rainforest are being removed by hand and replaced.  Any glass not used for the art pieces will be locally recycled.

“What I love most about this special project is that the art pieces are 100 percent recycled, and there is no waste,” says artist Meeghan Triggs.  “Every bit of the industrial sheet glass is re-used in the eight products we have designed.  And all the pieces are handmade locally in Pittsburgh; what a wonderful way to celebrate the National Aviary and our city.”

The Tropical Rainforest renovation also includes the construction of a 15-foot waterfall that spills out to three tiers and encompasses immersive spaces for birds to bathe, play and nest; installation of a variety of new tropical plants, including cacao and coffee trees as tools for conservation education; custom perches; new lighting and flooring; and other energy-efficient enhancements. New bird species and educational programming will be introduced in the space when work is completed in July.

The Tropical Rainforest renovation is funded by the Colcom Foundation and the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and is sponsored by Allegheny Health Network, Peoples, Trib Total Media, and Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG Glass).


About Atelier Fused Glass and Mosaics

Atelier is a Pittsburgh-based glass studio specializing in Fused Glass and Mosaics.  Our exclusive glass artworks combine function and beauty to create products that can be used every day.  At Atelier, we Upcycle, Recycle and Make from Scratch.  Our products are handmade in the USA.  We live for vivid color and progressive design. Atelier’s Artist/Owner, Meeghan Triggs, has been doing kiln-work for 20 yrs.  Meeghan received her BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and studied at The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.

About the National Aviary

The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Located on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, the National Aviary’s diverse collection represents more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered. The National Aviary’s large walk-through exhibits create an intimate, up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including opportunities to hand-feed. Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily. For admission rates and more information visit www.aviary.org.

2018 has been designated Year of the Bird by the National Geographic Society, in recognition of the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a key bird-protection law.  The National Aviary is proud to join National Geographic and other bird and wildlife organizations in celebrating birds, and encouraging  learning and action to protect wild bird species and their habitats.  Learn more at www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/year-of-the-bird/