Alex Bernstein, of North Carolina, demonstrates his technique of “Bernsteining,” or fusing steel to the surface of glass, in his studio.

Habatat Galleries’ international glass show moves online

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 23, 2020


ROYAL OAK — A global pandemic did not stop Royal Oak-based Habatat Galleries’ 48th annual International Glass Invitational Awards Exhibition.

The show went on with Glass 48: Habatat Direct, a virtual gallery that features not only the artists’ works, but also artist introductions, video tours of their studios, demonstrations of how they create their work, and personal interviews and presentations.

Organizers canceled the physical show early on and worked with more than 100 contemporary glass artists from around the world to shoot video footage to still provide patrons with the intimate experience that the show promises each year.

Six years ago, stepbrothers Corey Hampson and Aaron Schey took ownership of the gallery from their father, Ferdinand Hampson, who founded Habatat in 1971 and was a key player in establishing glass as an art form.

“This has been an extremely challenging time for all of us,” Schey said. “When I was talking to the artists, who were expressing their fears for the future of their work, it inspired me to create this new type of online gallery experience and make it as exciting as possible. It is dedicated to them.”

He said he is excited to bring the virtual experience, which showcases the latest in the world of studio glass, to not only collectors, museum curators and others in the industry, but also the broader audience of anyone with internet access.

“Light and color is the essence of glass art, and we think Glass 48: Habatat Direct offers light and inspiration in this moment of darkness,” Schey said. “The beautiful images of these extraordinary works of art capture the viewer’s eye online, but I think the personal videos are really the heart and soul of the online experience.”

Alex Bernstein, a glass artist based in North Carolina, has been a part of the annual exhibition for nearly two decades. Both of his parents are also glass artists, and he began showing his work at the exhibition shortly after completing grad school.

“It’s definitely the best glass show in the world,” Bernstein said. “I feel super lucky to be part of the international (exhibition) every year. One of my favorite things to do is talk to collectors and friends about what I’ve been working on”

He said he looks forward to seeing Schey and Hampson, as well as a whole slew of glass artists from North Carolina and around the world each year.

“I miss that for sure. When I see everybody, it feels like family. People are very supportive,” he said. “The gallery did a great job of adapting and evolving, and hopefully, the show gets better in the process. I’m desperately trying to put silver linings on everything.”

Bernstein described his work as “abstract” and his technique of using stone working tools to subtract material away from and add texture to cast glass as “relatively unique.” He also coined the term “Bernsteining,” or fusing steel to the surface of glass.

Among his work is a large installation at Habatat Galleries that features 23 individual sculptures.

To explore the online experience, visit

While Habatat Galleries is currently closed to the public, it will be open for private tours. To schedule a tour, call (248) 554-0590. The gallery is located at 4400 Fernlee Ave., near West 14 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway.