A Sudden Burst of Creativity and Fundraising

I want to show you a short video we shot in our new Amri Studio headquarters in Portland, OR – snippets of a spontaneous evening of art, dance, song, and philanthropy that I created with my staff, my neighbors, and Kathy Kingston, a world-class philanthropic auctioneer.

We were auctioning time to work with us at the studio to create a small piece of art glass. The proceeds went to support p:ear, a Portland nonprofit that uses art, education and recreation to mentor homeless young people, and has a gallery to display their art. Auction attendees were bidding for time in our studio to work with us and create their own piece of art glass.

Stas Afanisiev, a young professional photographer/videographer in the Portland Area, caught some choice fleeting moments of the evening on video.

A confluence of blessings and motivations resulted in this marvelous evening. I wanted to celebrate:

  • My happiness at moving to the beautiful community-minded city of Portland.
  • My desire to honor my talented new staff and their youthful, receptive, creative, playful spirits.
  • My wonderful neighborhood and awesome neighbors here in the Pearl/ABC/Slabtown area of northwest Portland.
  • The joy of creation: The giant LCD screens you see in the video happened to be in our studio because we were testing them. They are state-of-the-art, commercial 4K LCD screens that will be used in our first digital Donor Recognition project. This will be installed shortly at Boston Children’s Hospital and has animation featuring charming art by children’s book illustrator and artist Elly McKay from Canada.

On the LCD screens we showed with random movies, including a dazzling abstract art Vimeo film that showed ice cubes melting with cool music in the background – and we thought, someone needs to dance in front of this! One of our collaborative artists, David, and a young new dancer, Amanda Ingleheart of the Northwest Dance Project, did the honors. Then our staff member Zak Austin played guitar and sang his own compositions.

Our studio neighbors at Barefoot Sound, which does zero-distortion speakers for rock stars worldwide, loaned us two top of the line engineeredspeakers that filled our entire 5,000 sq. ft. studio with glorious sound.


Singer and voice teacher Daniel Buchanan of re:sound:NW, which he founded, sang Hallelujah, and the amazing Kathy Kingston, who does strategic planning and consulting and award-winning philanthropic fundraising auctioneering, donated her talents to auction off some of our time and attention at the studio for two people to come in and make something in art glass.  P.S. Kathy just published an acclaimed new book on fundraising,A Higher Bid, an Amazon-bestseller in its category.











The serendipity of having world-class speakers and screens, a world-class auctioneer, our own prize-winning art glass on display, the huge talents of our internal team and so many Portland locals, and the excitement about coming together as a community to have some fun and do some good for p:ear… it reminded me of the image of Indra's Net.

A story from both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions tells of the abode of the great god Indra, king of heaven, where hangs a wondrous vast net, much like a spider's web in intricacy and loveliness. It stretches out indefinitely in all directions. At each node, or crossing point, of the net hangs a single glittering jewel. Since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.

The polished surface of each gem reflects all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number, just as two mirrors placed opposite each other reflect an image ad infinitum. Each jewel reflected in the one gem also reflects all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is itself infinite.

Each of us is a sparkling jewel in Indra's Net, as is every person around you. Every jewel is connected with all the other jewels in the net; every person is intimately connected with all the other persons in the universe. Each has an independent place within the net and we all reflect and influence each other.

May we all hold this image in mind and remember that we are deeply connected to each other, for good or ill, and have a huge capacity for sharing our creativity and love and hope for infinite possibilities.

Making a Move (and Taking a Break)

Portland at night by Jim Nix
Photo by Jim Nix from his blog Nomadic Pursuits

We have finally completed the long-contemplated move of our Studio from the rolling hills of California wine country to Portland, Oregon, home to exciting new ventures, lots of young talent, and other wonderful resources.

It's also a lot easier to fly in and out of, which is a real benefit to our new and existing clients who come to see their pieces during the design or sandblasting stage. 

Our new contact information is Amri Studio, 826-B NW 18th Ave., Portland, OR 97209; tel 503 488-5638; fax 503 980-1316. No change to email or website. I'll talk more about our new Portland team, assets, and resources in a later blog.

Taking a Break to Rest and Reflect

On Monday, July 27, we begin our Studio’s our annual two-week summer closure (reopening Monday, August 10).

This is a time for the entire staff (including me!) to rest, renew, and refresh our spirits -- and think deeply about the meaning of what we do. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day deadlines we don't allow ourselves enough time to focus on anything but the details and getting the job done on time.

But when we have a chance to step back and breathe, we remember the big picture and are inspired anew. Let me tell you one of my very favorite stories about the difference between the coping with the immediate task and the big picture way of doing our work.

St. Paul's painting

 Watercolor of St. Paul’s Cathedral by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city and reduced venerable Old St. Paul’s Cathedral to charred timber and rubble. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was hired to design a new church. After many plans and revisions, construction finally began in 1677 when Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.

St Paul's plans

Sir Thomas Wren’s plans for the dome of St. Paul’s

One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making on his huge creation. He stopped to speak to one of the stonecutters, and asked the man what he was doing.

“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the he replied, a big testily. “Each one the same as the next. And the next. And the next. Every bloody stone just exactly the same.”

Sir Christopher wisely moved on. He approached a second stonecutter and asked the man what he was doing.

“Why, sir, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone should need to ask.

Then Sir Christopher spotted a third stonecutter, very intent on his work. “What are you doing, good sir?” asked the architect.

The man looked up at him. He was covered with stone dust and his hands were heavily callused. He looked tired, but he looked satisfied, too.

 “I am building a monument to the glory of God,” he said with a deeply furrowed smile.


Two photos at left by Gabriel Harber; at right, detail from Donor Wall we created at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston, WV 

The joy and satisfaction we take in our work depends in very large part on the context in which we hold that work.  For me, designing and carving architectural art glass and stone -- or working in etched metal or porcelain enamel -- is not just about sandblasting tiny lines and curves into panels of crystal, or even about running a successful small business in a field I love.

Christina cropped at trade showIt’s about creating timeless works of art that deeply honor the donors, institutions, and staff members who together are doing vital and heartfelt work to make our world a better place. I feel honored myself to be a part of their endeavors.

And that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the coming two weeks as I rest, relax and refresh my energies for an exciting autumn in our new Studio in Portland.

Christina color sig-1


Fundraising Wisdom From a Woman With Heart

6039 Miller-Dwan Solvey House Donor Wall

Pat burnsDuring an interview with our writer/researcher, a delightful client of ours, Pat Burns, president of the Miller-Dwan Foundation, had some compelling things to say about philanthropy and how she works with her Donors. Her insights are both wise and touching, and I want to share them with you.  (The photos accompanying this blog are from the Donor Art Glass projects we did for Pat at Solvey Hospice House and the Amberwing Center for children, teens, young adults and families struggling to cope with mental health and substance use. Both are located in Duluth, Minnesota.

What prompted you to choose an artist like Christina to do your Donor Recognition as opposed to one of the other Recognition companies?

There's a marked difference in the artistry. We felt the project demanded the ability to not just make an intellectual connection with people, it needed to make an emotional and spiritual connection. The engagement of donors in philanthropy is really one that comes from the heart, and unfortunately so many recognition systems come only from the head. They are only about, "Here's your name on the wall, isn't that wonderful, look at you, you did so much." They don't get what philanthropy is all about.

Philanthropy is really an act of love.
Love needs to be communicated with an emotional and spiritual underpinning. It needs to be recognized in a way that is loving and beautiful and reflects the greater part of us. It needs to be inspirational, to come from a place that isn't simply intellectual. Philanthropy isn't just from the mind, it isn't just about show, it's about a grander purpose. Christina as an artist has a way of expressing that grander purpose that exists behind the philanthropy.

Some folks dismiss philanthropists as people who just want big tax write offs.

What we are truly talking about is philanthropy is in its purest form — and when I am working with people, I don't want it to be about the tax benefit. My experience is that people want to be part of something bigger. They really want a deep engagement in things that they believe in. A simple name list doesn't convey that level of engagement. It doesn't go to a deeper belief system.

If donors are just doing it for tax purposes, our job is to remind them of the grandness of the act so that the next time they step forward to do it, they get this inner stirring that says, "This is really bigger than deductions, really a part of something bigger and more important. I am about changing the world."


The artistry in Christina's Donor Recognition elevates the philanthropic act and helps people really understand the grandness of it. That's where everybody else doing Recognition pales in comparison.

So there's a way in which you use Christina's recognition to teach people the real meaning of their gift. I bet they love that!

People are so moved, they cry in front of these Donor Walls. I'll tell you, after we did the first project with Christina's Donor Wall, it was a WHOLE lot easier to do the second one. People GET IT when you go out and talk with them about it -- especially the Donor Wall Christina did for Amberwing.

Campaign donor wall 1 at Amberwing

Our text was, "Love is a little word. People make it big." That's what it's about. They were very moved. And the design — it was a grand presentation of this universe that the Donors were having impact on. They become more important in the universe — and they ARE more important in the universe because they are doing something for hundreds of people who they don't really know, who they may never meet.

I think especially for the hospice project and the kids' mental health project we did, people were really engaged with their hearts in the giving. If I had done a dry and boring Donor Wall, they probably would have been fine with it because that's what they are used to seeing everywhere else. But because we did something different — something deeper — it elevated everything about the act of giving, it elevated everything the community had come together to do.

Photo 3
What's really cool is that the families who come in to use these facilities are inspired by these walls, especially the kids. Our kids' mental health project is using the Donor Walls now as part of their program. They have added a mindfulness piece to the program so that they go and stand before the Donor Wall with the universe and the dewdrops and the fish and the stars and everything.

Then they read through Maya Angelou's poem, they talk about the poem, they talk about having these people [the Donors] care so much about them that they created this facility where they [the kids] can come receive care.

Strong women
               strong men
          protect the children
                     tend the ailing,
               care for the aged
and in fact,
          the entire world. 
                                      —Maya Angelou

They look at the Donor names and the text and the facilitators use that to say to these children, "This is a part of healing because this community loves you." A bunch of names on the wall would never do that. I am deeply grateful that we have Christina's work here. To do anything less would be to diminish all the work that went into creating this facility.

*          *          *

Thank you, Pat. It was an honor to be a part of your loving and healing mission.

Christina blue sig

The Best Way Forward Is Together

“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”

Two weeks ago I attended an event called LocalMade at Gensler's San Francisco headquarters. Its goal was to connect Bay Area commercial, residential and interior designers with Bay Area artisans of national repute.

Guild sign

Traditional wrought-iron guild sign
of a German glazier 

I was there showing our carved and etched Art Glass. Other artisans came to display their furniture, tile, rugs, lighting, metalwork, even concrete products. As I talked with my fellow attendees and the designers, it seemed like the event had a “guild” feel to it.

Medieval guilds were associations of trades- or craftsmen skilled in one particular field. LocalMade was a meeting of creative people from one particular geographical area. But what if we applied a broader interpretation to the term “guild” and the concept of “buy local”?

The essence of both these concepts is mutual interest, mutual benefit and support. Personally, I absolutely understand that nothing gets done unless people have a sense of good will and connection. What if we built a network of people based on those qualities?


I’m not just talking about vendors and suppliers, I’m talking about people who need product, people who design product, people who are visionaries and who are stewarding Donors for new projects.  We are all connected — most especially by the sense of good will and appreciation we have for each other.

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment
of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

This is why we are trying to pull together our whole network. It’s time for us to come together, help each other out, keep each other inspired. We share a common commitment to the highest quality work and an awareness of the many levels — including the spiritual level — on which we work.

Woman touching wall
So let’s really link together and keep abreast of what each other is doing. Here are some ways that we like:

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Please invite us — and each other —  to do the same. Please network and spread the good will. And please call if you have any great ideas about things we can do or create together!

As a close-knit tribe of superb creative people, we refer each other as the best person in the world to do glass in Chicago, carpeting in Alabama, metalwork in New York. We build a creative circle of people who truly care about their craft and about the world.


I mentioned that the Gensler event had a “guild” feel to it. Instead of one particular trade or craft, though, the “guild” I envision is about a level of quality and awareness. It’s about helping each other with resources and networking and staying inspired.

We also need to help keep each other positive in these times. I am so aware that in this economic climate of caution, when one person says, “Uh-oh,” other people do the same thing, almost automatically. Pessimism is contagious — and it’s bad for everyone.

"Because of the interconnectedness of all minds, affirming a positive vision
may be about the most sophisticated action any one of us can take."

Futurist and visionary Willis Harman

What if we spread optimism as readily? I was talking to a local glass provider the other day who told me that his business is expanding. He’s getting more orders — and for exciting projects. Architects have started hiring back some of the folks they laid off. For us, we’re working on a project in the D.C. area, we just completed two projects in Chicago, and two new jobs came through just last week.

If we tell each other the good news, we’ll all start to feel more inspired and optimistic. We’ll get more confident, we’ll invest more in the future, and we won’t be constrained by the fear factor.

Hand with flower

Things  are moving, people have exciting products and projects to offer. Let’s support each other and let’s stay connected. Let’s be aware of who are fellow visionaries and who are the top quality people in the country. Let’s create and share the wealth, with heart and abundant good will.


Photos of our carved and etched crystal Recognition, from top:

Benefits of Becoming a Naming Donor

Marriott tribute
Tribute to Willard and Alice Marriott at the Marriott Library, University of Utah. This double-layer plaque includes formal photos of the couple, and a larger image showing the pair as young sweethearts.

I was working with the Donor Relations Officer of a new hospital the other day, helping her find the right words for a proposal she was going to make to a prospective Naming Donor. We have done a lot of Naming and Major Donor Tributes over the years, and I was happy to share with her the specific benefits such philanthropists enjoy when they are appropriately -- and generously -- honored.

Here's an easy bulleted list you can share with
your Donors or Development team. (If you'd like a nicely formatted version with photos -- suitable as a Donor handout -- email me at christina_amri@amristudio.com.)

  • Positions the Donor as a host and sponsor of the institution, welcoming patients or students, visitors, families, and staff when they walk in the door
  • Presents the Donor as a benefactor and humanitarian who truly cares about the well-being of the people who use the institution
  • Enables the Donor to share their wisdom and inspiration with the many thousands of visitors who will pause to enjoy the artwork and read the Donor’s words
  • Humanizes the philanthropist and sends a message that not only honors the Donor’s gift, it forges a long-term relationship from which Donor and institution will benefit
  • The Naming Donor Tribute we create will reflect the shared values of the institution and the Donor: It will be both visionary and enduring, a work of art created with exquisite attention to detail and hand-crafted from the highest quality materials. It will embody excellence, integrity, team-work, caring and respect.

 Here are several more examples of custom Naming Donor Tributes we have created to give you (and your Donors) an idea of what's possible.

Burney cropped

Tribute to a beloved doctor at Nebraska Medical Center, given by his wife. The decorative element on the right side is a detail from the wallpaper in Dr. Burney's bedroom when he was a child.
Batchelor collage.tif

This double-layer Tribute honors George Batchelor, Naming Donor for the Batchelor Children's Research Institute in Miami. The top layer of the Tribute, at left, shows the philanthropist today, at age 80.
The second layer, shown at right using different lighting, is a portrait of the aeronautical industry leader in his 20s as a young pilot.
Eccles cropped

Tribute to George and Dolores Eccles at the Eccles Critical Care Pavilion, University of Utah. Again, the double layer strategy allows us to show
the donor couple in formal portraits and in a fun-loving moment
from their early years together. This kind of Tribute is especially
appreciated in a hospital setting, where patients and families are
delightfully diverted by the sight of a joyful image.
Blocks - awards

Donor Awards in a building block motif with gold-filled Donor names and initials

If you would like us to send you a digital portfolio of our Donor Tributes, contact me at info@amristudio.com. We also have a pdf showing our Donor Awards if you're looking for something simpler.

Places the Donor’s name in one of the most prominent locations in the building

Positions the Donor as a host and sponsor of the institution, welcoming patients/students, visitors, families, and staff when they walk in the door

Presents the Donor as a benefactor and humanitarian who truly cares about the well-being of the people who use the institution

Enables the Donor to share their wisdom and inspiration with the many thousands of visitors who will pause to enjoy the artwork and read the Donor’s words

Humanizes the philanthropist and sends a message that not only honors the Donor’s gift, it forges a long-term relationship from which Donor and institution will benefit

The Naming Donor Tribute we create will reflect the shared values of the institution and the Donor: It will be both visionary and enduring, a work of art created with exquisite attention to detail and hand-crafted from the highest quality materials. It will embody excellence, integrity, team-work, caring and respect.


Christina sig cropped


From Grit to Gleam at Gensler

Grit to gleam cover and page one

This evening I have the honor of showing our work at Gensler's San Francisco headquarters. This is our second invitation to present there this year and I'm looking forward to chatting with tonight's guests. These will include Gensler's own design team as well as designers from HOK, SOM, and IDA. I'm bringing along several pieces of our carved and illuminated crystal, deep-carved marble, and breathtaking three-dimensional crystal sculptures.

Earlier in the year we were invited to make a presentation to Gensler's San Francisco designers showing them how luminous carved and etched glass can enhance the work they are doing for residential and commercial interiors.

We called the presentation "From Grit to Gleam," referring to our fabrication process, where we start by sandblasting half-inch-thick panels of crystal with industrial grit, then polish, inlay with gold, build beautiful hardwood bracketing, add (and sometimes program) LED lighting, and install these gleaming panels in hospitals, universities, corporations and homes around country.

To illustrate the journey each project entails, our designer Caroline created a photo essay in the form of a clever accordion-fold brochure, which I have put online for you to enjoy.


John ruskinThe brochure closes with one of my favorite quotes, from John Ruskin, Britain's leading writer on art, architecture and culture in the Victorian era. (Like most of the great men of the Victorian Age, he was vehemently anti-Victorian in his beliefs.)

Ruskin quote

 On those words of wisdom, I'm off to Gensler!

Christina sig cropped


Giving Thanks for 'Acts of Light'

Decorative Glass Magazine blog TOP

Love of glass and love of gratitude combined this week in a blog post by Patricia Linthicum in her "Designers on Design" column on the Decorative Glass Magazine website.

Patricia contacted me with the wonderful idea of doing a blog this week about giving thanks in glass, and asked me about our work creating luminous carved crystal Donor Walls and Tributes that express gratitude to an institution's generous benefactors.

FAITH carving from GinsburgI talked with her about my belief that each donor gift is an "act of light" intended to heal, inspire, illuminate, or educate, and that I see our illuminated crystal Donor Walls as acts of light that are given in return, "completing" the circle.

To me -- and to the men and women who work at Amri Studio -- each piece of carefully designed and carved glass we create is an act of devotion and service — an " act of light" that literally illuminates others' philanthropic and educational acts of light.

In her post, Patricia featured the stunning Naming Donor Tribute we created for Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute (pictured above, on her blog) and I explained the multi-level symbolism of the spiral-shaped "Donor Wall" we created. To enjoy Patricia's full post, click here.

Christina sig cropped

Honoring the Architect's Intent

One of our important goals when we create a work of Donor Art is to ensure that it echoes and enhances the architecture of the building in which it will be displayed. I thought you'd enjoy seeing some examples of installations where the gesture of the carefully crafted exteriors and interiors of the building are reflected in our design for the Donor Art.

Prentice collage

This state-of-the-art hospital was designed by architectural partners VOA and OWP/P to be a "family-oriented, feminine building.” To blend seamlessly with the architects' design intent, we used delicately curving, gold-filled ginkgo leaves to adorn a carved-crystal Tribute to the Naming Donor, Abra Rockefeller Prentice Wilkin. The lobby, where the Tribute is installed, feels more like it belongs to a beautiful hotel than a healthcare facility! 

Ginsburg collage
To honor Naming Donor Alan Ginsburg and the Ginsburg Family Foundation, we were asked to create a Tribute to Ginsburg's late wife, Harriet, and their son, Jeffrey, for the new Ginsburg Tower at Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute. Our freestanding Art Glass Donor Tribute in the lobby of the building echoes HuntonBrady’s award-winning design with its breathtaking circular tower. Our Art Glass Tribute -- a spiral "grove" that visitors can actually walk into -- was awarded first place in the Unique Signs category at the 2009 International Sign Contest, sponsored by Signs of the Times magazine.

CHOMP collage
Lastly, I want to show you a wonderful opportunity we had to create a Donor Recognition solution for a hospital that was designed by one of the most famous names in modern architecture. In 1962, Edward Durell Stone was commissioned to design a hospital on Monterey Peninsula, one of the world's most beautiful places. He used an iconic pattern of concentric squares throughout the building, both inside and outside. Today, the hospital uses that icon for its logo.

In designing the Donor Recogntion, we wanted to feature imagery that would reflect the community’s love for its natural surroundings and mesh with the iconic design. Along the bottom of the crystal panels, we used floating bars of DNA sequences that mirrored the shape of Stone's decorative squares. In keeping with the Monterey Bay nature theme, we then had those bars morph into patterns of light dappling on sunlit waters where an egret is poised for flight.

As an artist, I find it a real privilege to create designs that enhance the work of truly talented architects.

Christina sig cropped

Thank You for a Wonderful Year!

8035 St mrys pointing Art condenses the experience we all have as human beings, and, by forming it, makes it significant. We all have an in-built need for harmony and the structures that create harmony. Basically, art is an affirmation of life.

This is the time of year when I look back on what we've achieved and am filled with gratitude for the chance to work with some extraordinary institutions and equally extraordinary people. In 2010, we created Donor Recognition Art for huge medical research institutions and a 12-bed hospice, for a major university and a small but fast-growing community college in the Ozarks. We carved and etched single panels for some clients, and 100-foot-long crystal murals for others. 

Each of these projects was deeply meaningful for me and my staff. Without exception, we were enlarged by the people we worked with, the causes we learned about, and the challenges we met.  Thank you all for the opportunity to practice our art and celebrate your patients, clients, staff members and community of donors! We feel truly blessed!

Here is a quick tour of this year's projects, organized by the purpose of the project.

Donor Recognition Art

8035 St Marys Janitor

8035 St Marys_rose At St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, CO, cascading garlands of roses were carefully carved into eighteen crystal panels, while an etched rosary of pearls and gold-leafed beads led visitors from the lobby into the heart of the building. St. Mary’s deeply held values were carved into the crystal along with the names over 900 donors.

10144 Computer History museum_overview
A crystal wall with individual Donor plaques stretches along a hallway at the amazing Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. This type of wall is extremely flexible, allowing for many new Donors at a wide range of giving levels.

 8033 chomp_overview

8033 chomp_bird The themes of nature and medical science merge in this Donor Recognition System at the Community Hospital of the Montery Peninsula in Monterey, CA. Floating bars of DNA sequences stacked along the bottom of the crystal panels morph beautifully into patterns of light dappling sunlit waters where an egret is poised for flight.

We are always delighted when we are asked back to an institution with whom we have worked before, and this was the case at the Eccles Critical Care Pavilion of the University of Utah Hospital. In 2002-2003, we created a very large Donor Recognition System for them, on which we carved the names of some 2,800 Donors -- every single person who made a donation, from local philanthropists to the hospital janitor!

9105 Eccles_overview
This year we created a smaller "sister" wall to honor yet more donors, who funded the hospital's airy new two-story lobby. In creating this new wall, we used the same materials –- carved crystal and gold-leafing -– the same theme, and the same design vocabulary so that the two walls would have artistic unity.

10102 MiamiI Alum_overview
The University of Miami Alumni Association asked us to design Donor Recognition Art that celebrated the Donors who enabled them to build a beautiful new Alumni Center. We created a grid of interlocking crystal panels deep-carved with Donor Names. A rendering of the new Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, designed by the celebrated architect Michael Dennis, serves as the backdrop.

10132 NWACC_overview
At the NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, AR, we carved and etched Donor Recognition Art to honor Donors to their Building for the Future Capital Campaign. We used lacy silhouettes of young trees as the background to the Donor Names. These trees characterize the local landscape near the college and reflect the youth coming to college.

Major Donor Tributes

There are some individuals so blessed -- and so generous -- that they are able to make very large donations to the institutions they believe in. We had the honor this year of creating tributes to three such individuals.
The first was Abra Rockefeller Prentice Wilkins, the Naming Donor for the Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. Mrs. Wilkins is one of Chicago's most treasured philanthropists and an energetic advocate for women’s health. Her donations first established the hospital, then enabled its expansion and move into a state-of-the-art facility that contains one million square feet of top-notch healthcare for women and children.

10123 Chop Plaque At the renowned Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, we created a tribute to Ruth M. and Tristram C. Colket, Jr., whose lead donation enabled the building of the new Colket Translational Research Building. "Translational research" is medical research that is focused on dramatically shortening the time it takes for a scientific discovery to be "translated" into medicine that can heal people -- and this world-famous hospital is a leader in that field.

10108 Shuster overview
10108 Shuster typography In Ohio, our hearts were touched at the opportunity to create a tribute to Benjamin and Marian Schuster, Naming Donors for the Schuster Heart Hospital. Dr. Schuster is a longtime heart specialist and his wife was a major supporter of the arts in the Dayton area. The Schusters were known in their community almost as much for their love of each other as for their contributions to the community. To honor this aspect of their lives, we overlaid some of Shakespeare's poetry onto the Tribute text we wrote: "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite."

History/Heritage Walls

Also at the Schuster Heart Hospital, which is part of the Kettering Medical Center, we had the opportunity to create a fascinating combination History Wall and Tribute to inventor Charles Kettering, after whom the medical center -- and the town where it is located -- are named.

10107-kettering-sec-A-photo The History Wall consisted of three sections and concluded with photos of Kettering's son, Eugene, and his much-admired wife, Virginia. Charles Kettering was the embodiment of American ingenuity. He is best known for his invention in 1911 of a push-button starter for automobiles -- an innovation that made it possible for women to drive without the help of a well-muscled man to turn the extremely stiff starter crank. By the end of his busy life, Kettering had filed 140 patents, risen to international prominence as an inspiring leader, and become a major philanthropist.

In this History Wall, programmed and colored LEDs light up in sequence to convey a feeling of moving forward — echoing the result of Kettering’s many inventions and the forward-looking work of the Kettering Medical Center.

We created a second and even longer Heritage Walk at St. Mary's Hospital, in a corridor adjacent to the Donor Recognition Art that I described above.  8035 St Marys Corner

6D St Mary's Evolution angle This 100-foot-long carved and etched crystal Heritage Walk weaves together St. Mary's deeply held religious values with the story of its long and colorful history, told in archival photos, words and graphics. Deep, 3-D carved and chisel-cut letterforms and graphic elements "pop" almost holographically. Photographs -- ranging from archival pictures of pioneering nuns to recent pictures of a CareFlight helicopter -- are converted into dots and etched into the crystal using our DPI dither process.

Art Glass

Because we are the deepest carvers of glass and crystal in the country, we are often called upon to create Art Glass installations that are desired for their sheer beauty. This year, we worked with the University of Notre Dame to transform an aerial view of their famous campus into a wall of crystal for their new Alumni Center.

10119 NotreDame_angle overview
I wrote a blog post about this fascinating project in September -- check it out! The post includes a link to a time-lapse video showing us installing this 16-foot-wide mural.

8022 mathews_detail 2 You'll find another fun time-lapse video in my blog about the chapel we created at Prentice Women's Hospital, which I mentioned earlier in this post. The non-denominational Mathews Chapel was built from unused office space, a fact you would never guess when you walk into this sacred space with its "acres" of blossoming almond trees, lit with soft pink LEDs.

8022 mathews_overview

 Lastly, I want to share with you two projects that we have been working on here in the Studio as a way of exploring design and fabrication possibilities. 

9999 Calligraphy A
These graceful calligraphic explorations are a timeless translation of original copperplate engravings that were master’s exemplars of penmanship in 1780's. I think they look amazing rendered in carved crystal.    9999 eyechart_artwork

Another exploration is this eye chart, the design of which is intended to exercise the viewer's third eye. The chart, which was also sourced from an original copperplate engraving, has a lightly frosted background. Delicate V-carved lines and dots, inspired by scientific eyesight diagrams, weave and cascade across the frosted glass. At the bottom, Einstein encourages us to “experience the mysterious –- the source of all true art and all science.”

9999 eye chart

If you've read this far, I commend you! You can see that we had a wonderful -- and very full -- year. Thank you for being part of it!

May your new year be filled with creative joy and deep satisfaction,

Christina sig cropped



Photographs by Gabriel Harber and Studio staff and consultants

Creating Sacred Space

Your sacred space is where you find yourself again and again.

Two years ago we began a very special project! It was a unique opportunity for us both as consultants and a custom Art Glass studio. We were asked to help transform a large unused office into a sacred space at a state-of-the-art women's hospital.

Our design goal was to create a non-denominational chapel that would blend seamlessly with the architectural intent of the project, which was to construct “a family oriented, feminine building,” as design and architectural partners VOA and OWP/P put it.  

Prentice lobby 9-10The new hospital lobby with its gently curving lines is warm and welcoming

After studying the architect's intention and design, we worked directly with the Foundation (the stewardship arm of the hospital), the healthcare art consultants AAR (American Art Resources) and the Donors themselves. We aimed for an environment that worked with the feminine curves of the building and that lent itself to both solace and celebration. The result was a deeply meaningful architectural surround using illuminated crystal panels carved with symbols of fruitfulness, hope, and calm. 

Lobby from their websiteThe location was Chicago’s esteemed Prentice Women’s Hospital, now in a new million-square-foot, state-of-the-art building. The lobby of this amazing institution looks like it belongs in the most elegant high-end hotel. This is truly one of the most beautiful hospitals I have ever been in! Everything is curved and feminine, soft, spacious, welcoming. It's no mean feat to create a feminine feeling in a 17-story downtown Chicago skyscraper!

New prentice plaque 9-10 For the opening of this esteemed hospital in 2008, we crafted a Donor Tribute to Abra Rockefeller Prentice Wilkins, one of Chicago's most treasured philanthropists and an energetic advocate for women’s health.  Her generous gift of $10 million helped Northwestern Memorial Hospital to split off its women’s health services into this new building, which now includes the largest birthing center in the Midwest.  

The office we would be transforming into a sacred space was on the third floor. Its windows overlooked the lobby two stories below. The chapel  would provide a place of sanctuary, spiritual connection and solitude for those in need of comfort — or just a break from the stress of a busy medical setting.  The naming donors were the delightful Mathews family, and it was to be called the Mathews Chapel.

New prentice wall 9-10
Before I explain the imagery and other details of our work, let’s jump to the really fun part — a time-lapse video of the transformation of the window wall of this empty space into a carved crystal “orchard” 8 feet high by 19 feet wide.
(Our thanks to Tom Prost and Ben Varnau of Movco Media Productions, who created the "video.")


Terry painting

We began our transformation of this space by closing off the noisy view of the cement landscape outside and creating full window coverings in the form of warm, multi-colored backers. Their colors would shine through the etched glass to give it life and allow us to control the quality of light inside the room, thus creating a focused meditative space. (At right, Terry Holleman and I work on painting the backing board.) Terry, who is also our cabinet maker, created exquisite makora hardwood brackets to match the extensive interior paneling on the first two floors of the hospital. These brackets hold the art glass panels top and bottom and house the custom multicolored LEDs we programmed to light up the carved glass. Below the brackets and extending to the floor, we installed cream-colored piano-polished laquered panels.

New blossoms and more 9-10 Detail showing deep-carved flowers surrounded by more lightly etched ones

The chapel is a virtual almond orchard in blossom, softly lit, silent and welcoming. Sitting, praying or meditating in the Mathews Chapel, visitors enjoy the simple beauty and lacy quality of the delicate almond branches and blooms, while feeling embraced in a protective bower of trees. It is as if they are taking sanctuary in "God's garden." Nature is a theme that creates calm and serenity. It is spiritual without being directly connected to any specific denomination or belief system.

Single blossom cropped
Amri Studio graphic designer Arlene and I chose almond trees because they are highly revered in many cultures. They are a symbol for fruitfulness, thus perfectly suited to a women’s health center.
In the Jewish tradition, almond blossoms were the model for the flower cups on the Menorah. The almond itself is an ancient symbol of divine approval or favor. It also suggests the protection of valuable contents by a strong shell. This is a parallel to the function of a hospital, and to the purpose of our body, at the heart of which lies our precious spirit, our sacred light.

Madonna raphael The almond shape has appeared for centuries in artwork as the halo around Christ and the Virgin Mary, as in the detail at right from Raphael's Bridgewater Madonna. This shape is also a mystical statement of the union of heaven and earth, which is the very nature of a chapel.

However, the key to creating a design that someone can return to time and again is that it has genuine depth of meaning. In other words, it is rich with symbols that one can discover for oneself and interpret from one's own particular point of view or mood or need on any given day. Good design has intent and symbolism that "holds" the space, even if the viewer may not be fully conscious of it.

New kneeler niche 9-10 We also created a miniature "chapel within the Chapel" in an alcove of the room. This area houses both a kneeler and a stand holding beautiful Muslim prayer rugs. An adjustable beam of warm light shines softly down, almost like a shaft of sunlight making its way through branches.

I felt especially honored to be able to work with the hospital on creating this very special chapel. A space or sanctuary created with reverence, intention and great generosity of spirit is an enormous and wonderful offering.  I also had the opportunity to work with some great people. I especially want to honor Steve Falk, head  of Northwestern Memorial Foundation for stewarding this project with such hands-on, high-integrity leadership.

This is the kind of project I feel truly grateful to have been a part of. It is complex and beautiful architecturally and artistically, and in its achievement of client satisfaction and donor relations goals.  The words that spring to mind when I think of it are holy, sacred, extraordinary and from the heart. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone involved! From donor to development team, admin leadership and facility folks, you are the best!

Christina sig



Photos courtesy Prentice Women's Hospital and Stephen Price

A Pause for Thought

On Saturday we begin our Studio’s annual two-week summer closure, a time for the entire staff to rest, renew, refresh, and think deeply about the meaning of what we do. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day deadlines -– we just completed shipping six different Donor Recognition projects! –- we have to stay focused on the details to get everything done.

But when we have a chance to step back and breathe, we always remember the big picture. Let me tell you a story that speaks to this.

Watercolor of St. Paul’s Cathedral by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city and reduced its venerable Old St. Paul’s Cathedral to charred timber and rubble. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was hired to design a new church. After many plans and revisions, construction finally began in 1677. Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.

Christopher Wren’s plans for the dome of St. Paul’s

One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making. He stopped at one stonecutter and asked him what he was doing.

“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the man said, a bit testily. “Each one the same as the next. And the next. And the next. Every bloody stone just exactly the same.”

Sir Christopher wisely moved on. He approached a second stonecutter and asked the man what he was doing. “Why, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone, least of all the boss, should need to ask.

Then Sir Christopher spotted a third stonecutter, very intent on his work. “What are you doing, good sir?” asked the architect.

The man looked up at him. He was covered with stone dust and his hands were heavily callused. He looked tired, but he looked satisfied, too.

“I am building a monument to the glory of God,” he said.

Photos at left by Gabriel Harber

The joy and satisfaction we take in our work depends in large part on the context in which we hold that work. For me, designing and carving architectural art glass is not just about sandblasting tiny lines and curves into panels of crystal, or even about running a successful small business in a field I love.

It’s about creating timeless works of art that deeply honor the donors, institutions and staff members who are making vital and heartfelt contributions toward the betterment of our world. I myself feel honored to be a part of their endeavors.

And that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the coming two weeks as I rest, relax and refresh my energies for an exciting autumn in the Studio. We'll be back at work on Monday, August 9, ready to hear about your new projects!

Designing Deep Meaning Into Donor Art

"Real art -- as opposed to decorative art -- touches the soul and reaches the viewer emotionally. It expresses energy, life force, and has deep spiritual meaning that can help the viewer transform pain and suffering to reach a higher state of consciousness."

--Jain Malkin, leading healthcare interior designer

When my team of graphic designers and I begin a carved crystal Donor Wall, we approach the work as artists. We are not looking to create something that is merely pretty. We are creating real art, so we start by focusing on the deep meaning of the piece, and we choose for images and symbols that will convey that meaning. Of course, we also add straightforward elements -- a formal appreciation statement, donor names and giving levels, and inspirational quotes.

But often the silent language of the symbolism speaks as loudly to viewers as the literal words we carve into the surface of the crystal. This is because we choose symbols and images rich with associations to our cultural and spiritual history.

“Christina Amri fell into a different category than any of the other donor recognition companies I’m familiar with. Her work is so creative. When I first saw her art, I realized you can have so much more than just names on a wall.”

--Mary Lou McCaa, University Hospital Foundation, University of Utah

A good example of how we design deep meaning into our art glass is our recent installation of a Donor Wall at Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. Let me show you that mural and walk you through why we chose the images and symbols you’ll see.
The process began when Amy Goodman, curator for the hospital’s extraordinary art collection, CEO Steve Packer (far right), Foundation head Al Alvarez (far left), and hospital Board members engaged in a very thoughtful dialogue with designer Arlene Rhoden and myself as artists.

This and most of the other photos in this post are by the talented Gabriel Harber

At first glance, the 10-by-18-foot wall of carved and etched glass appears to be simply an image of Monterey Bay, its blue waters sparkling with sunlight and a snowy white egret lifting into flight on the left side of the mural. Had we been designing this wall for display in a private home, a scene of great natural beauty might have been enough. But to create a true work of art, there must be a deeper meaning.

In this case, our Donor Wall needed to symbolize the dedication, skill and vision of the hospital staff as well as the caring, vision and generosity of its donors. The wall, to be situated in the main lobby of the building, also needed to set a positive and reassuring tone for patients and their families entering the hospital.

Thus, we chose to portray the serene, light-dappled waters of Monterey Bay. Water symbolizes healing (the hospital’s role), it is life-giving, it nourishes our body and spirit. Water is an important symbol in most spiritual beliefs, Western and Eastern alike. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God is called "the fountain of living waters." In addition, water symbolizes wisdom (a reference to the skill of the medical staff).

At Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, water is also a key feature of the physical environment. Ponds and fountains provide refreshing and relaxing elements inside and outside the buildings. For all of these reasons, we chose to use an expanse of water as the background for our Donor Wall.

The theme of water was picked up again in the deep V-carved quote about generosity from Maya Angelou, words which span nearly the full width of the mural:

When we cast our bread upon the waters,

we can presume that someone downstream
whose face we will never know
will benefit from our action,
as we who are downstream from another
will profit from that grantor’s gift.

Next we wanted to bring in symbols signifying the latest scientific discoveries to express the hospital’s joint mission of compassionate care with cutting-edge medicine. Across the foot of the mural we added short columns of bars, which are stylized images of DNA fragments that have been separated and sorted by size, an essential first step in a creating a genetic profile of an individual.

These floating bars morph beautifully into the patterns of light dappling the sunlit waters. And, because DNA contains our inherited genetic code, this imagery also symbolizes the passing of gifts from one generation to another -- from the hospital’s community leaders and generous donors of the past to those of the future. Lastly, these bars or boxes serve to mirror the distinctive decorative features built into the hospital by its original architect, the renowned Edward Durell Stone.

On the left of the mural, we added the image of an egret spreading its wings either to land or take flight. Incorporating a living creature into the scene brought life, warmth, and a sense of scale to the Donor Wall. It helps viewers connect with the entire mural. Symbolically, birds stand for hope, an important subconscious message for patients and their families. Birds also soar, and the upward movement of the bird portrayed here implies the soaring of thought, spirit and imagination.

Because the egret is shown at the moment it breaks free in flight, it symbolizes Community Hospital’s role as a courageous agent of change and leadership. Immediately to the right, a 23-karat-gold-leafed quotation from local poet Robinson Jeffers ties in with the image:

Lend me the stone strength of the past
and I will lend you the wings of the future,
for I have them.

These inspiring words connect Community Hospital’s tremendous legacy of philanthropy with the promise of an innovative and hope-filled future. They speak to the importance of blending a strong foundation with visionary innovation. (All the quotations we used are from local figures and were collaboratively chosen with help from the hospital foundation. They all “speak to each other” within the design and help form the “graphic landscape.”)

Last of all, and I confess it will be hard to show you here, is the symbolism in the colors and timing of the lighting system we programmed. Soft, multicolored LEDs illuminate the crystal panels in a subtle four-minute cycle patterned after the 24-hour cycle of a day. It begins with the pinks and yellows of sunrise, moves into the brighter light of day, then softens into the turquoise of sunset and the cobalt blue of nighttime. (If you click on the side-by-side image above, you can best see the colors shift in the curving lines at the upper right.)The lighting never shuts off, just as the work of Community Hospital never ends. Both continue day and night, providing healing, inspiration and solace for all who visit.

Al Alvarez, Chief Development Officer of the Community Hospital Foundation, says that patients, staff and volunteers alike are often found standing reverently in front of the wall, “as if they were in church.”

True art, unlike mere graphics, works on many levels. It communicates explicitly and implicitly. It thanks, honors, recognizes, and acclaims. It inspires and it comforts. It touches on our shared history and points toward a mutual and positive future. This is our goal for every work of Donor Art that we create.

P.S. Jain Malkin, whose quote I used at the beginning of this post, is working with us right now on an amazing project. Stay tuned to see what we do with the interactive Kettering Tribute at the beautiful new Schuster Heart Hospital in Kettering, Ohio.

A Culture of Honoring, Part I

The aspect of my work that touches my heart most deeply is being part of what I call a culture of honoring. We are brought on board when a client wants to deeply thank and honor its donors for their generous support. But for many years now, our studio has innovated Donor Walls that go beyond a mere “accountant’s list” of the names of big, medium and smaller donors.

We understand that the entire community that contributes to an institution’s success needs to be honored. That why we weave into our artwork the institution’s identity -- you might say we "crystalize " the heart, mind and spirit of the organization -- along with the donors’ names.

The result is an Art Glass Mural that has something to interest every visitor who passes. At the University of Utah Hospital, for example, the Donor Wall (above) consists of beautifully etched and gold-leaf-filled leaves of their local aspen trees along with a gratitude statement, inspirational quotes and over 1200 donors’ names. Says Mary Lou McCaa, of the Hospital Foundation, “It’s wonderful when you go in the hospital and see people standing there staring at your Donor Wall. Just taking it all in.”

Detail from the Donor Wall at the University of Utah Hospital

We foster a culture of honoring within our own Studio by thanking and recognizing our team members. One way I do this is by adding the names of significant longtime individual contributors to our Amri Studio Wall of Honor, which is mounted in our graphic design room. The wall consists of 32 glass plaques. Deep, V-carved, copper- and gold-leaf-filled text highlights names, awards the Studio has won and inspiring quotations. As you can see, our Wall of Honor is designed so that it can easily be expanded with new names.

We pride ourselves on being a "turnkey" Studio that provides our clients with every service from initial consulting to design and fabrication through lighting, cabinetry and complete installation. Today I want to honor everyone whose work goes into getting our huge glass and crystal walls installed at the client’s site. These are the people who drive or fly with me all over the country to ensure that our Art Glass is carefully hung and lit. They are a multi-talented crew and they rarely get much public acknowledgment. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about them even a tenth as much as I enjoy working with them!

Before an installation even begins, we turn to our longtime cabinetmaker, Terry Holleman. Terry is a hugely talented individual who designs, engineers and makes all the custom hardwood and Corion/metal lami LED mounting brackets, cabinetry and wall surrounds for the crystal plaques and murals we create. He is the owner and lead designer for Holleman and Company Cabinetry in Sonoma, CA. He is also a gifted fine-art painter. You can see his work at his website.

As permanent as our Art Glass panels look once they are installed, they can actually be mounted in hidden swiveling steel brackets for ease of access when it’s time to add new donor names onto a second easily updated crystal or clear acrylic layer. I want to give special honoring to the man who has designed, prototyped and machined all of our specialty metal components over the years. Fred Oberti was a brilliant, funny and talented machinist and a true gentleman. He passed away this year and I sorely miss him. Even during his last illness Fred insisted on finishing a final important project with us. THANK YOU, FRED!

Fred’s swiveling brackets have to embrace an extra challenge because we use programmed LEDs to illuminate our Art Glass Walls. The hinges and other hardware that attach to the crystal panels must allow room for the LED wiring to run through them without impeding their function.

This brings me to our lighting wizard and electronic engineer, Tim Feldman, who has worked with us for decades. Tim creates custom-made strips of colored LED edgelights, which he can program to shift on a timed cycle or in response to the approach of a viewer. His work adds a whole new dimension to our carved and etched glass walls. Tim is the owner of Electric Algorithms in Davis, CA. He has created software and hardware for firms such as IDEO, eInstruction Corporation, D&P and Hewlett-Packard.

With the brackets milled, the hardware machined, and the lighting programmed, the final pieces are in place for an installation. Our on-site install team is led by Charly Rinn, a talented and successful millwork designer and fabricator in his own right, who has been my lead installer for over 16 years. Charly has worked with me on just about every major installation I’ve done.

He is the owner and founder of Exceptional Wood Products in Geyserville, CA. His firm does high-level, award-winning, contemporary and historic architectural woodwork, including stairs, molding, columns, wainscoting, cornices, door surrounds and cabinetry. Charly also designs and builds our custom shipping crates for the thousands of square feet of crystal panels we ship nationwide.

Joe and Charly at the installation for Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula.
Below, Joe and Christina Amri.

Charly has two assistants who work with him. Joe Delgado is a carpenter par excellence. In a past life Joe was a gourmet chef, so when we’re on the road, I put him in charge of finding places for us all to eat. (He’s a genius at decoding the menus in sushi restaurants.)

Installing the wood brackets on a Donor Wall at Marriott Library at the University of Utah

Another wonderful member of our install team is Jason Montgomery, a furniture maker based in Portland, OR. Jason is also a gifted musician who plays guitar and stand-up bass professionally. I am in awe of the multitalented folks I work with!

Charly and Tim in Monterey

We’ve made a recent addition to some of our install trips -- our talented new process photographer, Gabriel Harber of Oakland, CA, who gets some amazing shots of everything that goes on during an installation -- and of the folks who do it. He has a real gift for capturing the telling moment. Most of the photos in this post are Gabriel’s work.

These are the folks who make it possible for our carefully designed and carved crystal panels to be mounted in hospitals, universities, and businesses across the country. Their jobs aren’t always easy (like the day -- pictured above -- when temperatures of 17 below caused a water main to burst in the lobby of a hospital where they were installing a huge crystal mural), but they invariably handle everything that comes up with professionalism, grace and good-natured humor.

Donor Wall at the University of Virginia

Lastly, I want to honor Bob Davidson, who took on one of our first, largest and most complex installations: the University of Virginia School of Medicine. A talented artist, art professor, architect and contractor, Bob guided, engineered, ran and collaboratively supported all the initial growth at our Studio. He built our sandblasting booths, the racks that hold our huge panels of glass, our glass-moving trolley, and even our second-story mezzanine. Without Bob’s loving and generous support, his amazing creativity and his problem solving skills, our Studio would not be here today!

I thank you ALL for your talent and your heart. This loyal "band of brothers" has taught me everything I know about installation, enabling me to speak authoritatively to our clients. They have supported and admired the workmanship and art of our endeavor. And they have adventured with me through late-night airports big and small since we first expanded to creating truly large-scale Donor Walls 18 years ago. You are the best!

The Artisanship Behind Our Art

True art is created by the human hand. That’s why we use no machine carving, laser etching, or chemical processes to create the Art Glass Donor Walls, Tributes and Signage that we are famous for. All of our award-winning pieces are meticulously carved and etched by hand.

How do you carve and etch a material as delicate as glass? Ironically, it’s done by SANDBLASTING.

Whether we are doing bas-relief carving to create the alabaster look of birds in flight or chisel-carving true V-cut letterforms (a monument-style technique once only possible in stone), the work is all done by directing narrow streams of air-propelled particles (originally, sand was used) to the back or front of thick sheets of crystal and glass.

By altering the speed of the air, the size of the nozzle, the angle at which the nozzle is held, and how long the stream of “sand” is directed at a given area, a marvelous range of different effects can be created.

Christina Wallach Amri began her career over 35 years ago in Paris, where she apprenticed with a fourth-generation family of glass artisans. Among other projects, she worked on restoring the famous stained glass windows of Chartres cathedral.

When Christina returned to the U.S. and founded Wallach Glass Studio (now Amri studio), she began developing techniques for etching and carving glass to resemble the timeless and elegant stone monuments she saw in Europe. She also brought her experience and studies as an art major at U.C. Berkeley into the sandblasting cabinet and began truly sculpting in glass. Now we are the deepest bas-relief glass carvers in the U.S., sometimes working on panels as thick as a full inch.

In the late 1990s, with the invention of sophisticated photo manipulation software, Amri Studio began working to find a way to increase the delicacy of its carved lettering and artwork and to etch highly detailed photo portraits in crystal and glass. The biggest hurdle to overcome was the fact that when converting a photo into dots, a process they call dithering, the image loses a lot of detail.

We restore the fine details in a highly skillful, artistic and technical process we’ve developed that takes up to 20 hours per photo. When the resulting image is then carved into crystal or glass, each tiny dot is scooped out by a blast of “sand,” creating a tiny bowl shape. When the sandblasted image is edge-lit by LEDs, the little bowls collect the light as it travels through the crystal (which acts as a fiber optic) and the image looks dramatically three-dimensional.

Thanks to the proprietary techniques we’ve developed for creating our signature chisel-cut, three-dimensional lettering and highly detailed photo portraits, our Art Glass panels -- whether they are Donor Recognition, Tributes or Corporate Signage -- brilliantly catch the light and read crisply at quite a distance with either ambient lighting, spot lighting and/or edge-mounted LEDs.

Christina sig

Projects from 2009

As we look back on the many projects we have been privileged to create this year, I think the words that best describe them are "acts of light." I also think this is the perfect way to describe what generous donors do when they make gifts to their favorite institutions: They are truly committing "acts of light" that affect everyone they touch....

light, my light
the world-filling light
the eye-kissing light
heart-sweetening light
. . .
the light is shattered 
into gold on every cloud
my darling
and it scatters gems
in profusion

Donor Tribute and Room Plaques, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences 


Personal Tribute to Heather Pick, Nationwide Children's Hospital


Art Glass, Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York

Art Glass, Mathews Chapel at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago


Donor Wall and Interactive Art Glass, Children's Hospital Boston

Donor Wall and Donor Tribute, Marriott Library, University of Utah


Heritage Wall, St Mary's Hospital, Grand Junction, CO


Donor Wall, St Mary's Hospital, Grand Junction, CO

Christina sig

Amri Studio Launches its BLOG

An intriguing question:
What does Chartres Cathedral have to do
with state-of-the-art carved crystal Donor Recognition
and architectural art glass?
Read on

Welcome to our just launched BLOG!

Come explore with us the roots of the exquisite, artisan-crafted contemporary landmark icon Tributes that we design, fabricate and install all over the country into Institutions that are changing the world.  These cutting-edge Medical Centers, Research Institutes, Universities, Corporations and Performing Arts Centers are looking deeply, bringing communities together, and asking us:

"How do we deeply and sincerely
honor gifts of time and heart and genius
in a way that inspires and celebrates?"

We are responding. We delight in our unique medium. This is our 34th year creating permanent monument style illuminated carved crystal art glass whose design reflects the heart and spirit of the Institution and its Community; whose layered translucent content is filled with striking permanently etched and dimensionally 3-D carved inspirational quotations, art, and portraits.

Chartres three kings

The reverence and devotion to fine design and craft as a way of expressing the beauty and mystery of creation is something we carry forward from our apprenticeship in Paris in the early 70's, restoring the famed 12th century stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral.

The same magic of light and color from the ancient cathedrals, infuses our own LED edge-lit optical crystal panels — to touch us , inspire us and celebrate all our inspired and generous philanthropic ACTS OF LIGHT.

For what better MISSION is there than the intersection of your passion with the world's need?

Christina sig