By day, Virgina-based glass artist Kiva Ford (previously) fabricates one-of-a-kind glass instruments designed for special applications in scientific laboratories. By night, he retires to his home art studio where he utilizes his vast skillset to create curious glass vessels, miniatures, goblets, and other unusual creations working entirely by hand. Ford says his artistic practice is heavily inspired by his interests in mythology, history, and science.
Ford’s artistic observations of the natural world have begun to merge directly with his scientific glassblowing abilities in a number of new hybrid pieces. In Metamorphosis and Metamorphosis II, we see the sequence of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly and an egg turning into a frog, all seamlessly encapsulated by handmade glass instruments, evoking the mystery of a ship in a bottle.
You can follow more of Ford’s work on Instagram and he sells hundreds of glass objects—mostly miniatures—through his Etsy shop. (via Hi-Fructose)
Glass artist Satoshi Tomizu sculpts small glass spheres that appear to contain entire solar systems and galaxies. Planets made of opals, flecks of real gold, and trails of colored glass seem to spin and loop like twists in the Milky Way. While photographed here in a macro view, the pieces are actually quite small and include a small glass loop so each piece can be turned into a pendant. I can’t help but be reminded of this pivotal scene from the acclaimed Men in Black film.
Seattle-based artist Carol Milne (previously) fabricates flowing glass sculptures that mimic the delicate patterns of knit yarn. Contrary to the assumption that Milne has super-human ability to knit strands of molten glass by hand, the artist instead devised a somewhat complicated process that involves wax casting, mold-making, and kiln-casting. She discusses her techinques in detail in this video from Heather DiPietro. Milne also offers a PDF and a book about producing her glass work through the FAQ on her website.
As a child, Danish artist Steffen Dam loved poring over his grandparents’ collection of scientific books and cabinets of insects. This fascination of how we catalogue and understand the natural world followed through to his artistic glass career, where Dam creates highly detailed “Cabinets of Curiosities” that mimic oceanic specimens suspended in glass jars and plates. The pieces are usually displayed inside light boxes to better illuminate every minute detail from the fragile tentacles of a jellyfish to a flourish of bubbles that seem to dance around many of his specimens.
Steffen Dam invites the viewer to relish the sheer beauty of his “specimens,” but also to reflect on the meaning of nature as a mirror of the human mind and spirit. Dam has “captured” nature in his work, but he assiduously avoids simple imitation of life; the artist shies away from what he refers to as “cheap tricks in glass.” He seeks to strike a “balance between fiction and reality.” While his work is in no way intended to serve as pedagogic tools, as specimens in “cabinets of curiosities” often were, they are intended to engage the eye and stimulate the imagination. Knowledge about the forms, structures, surfaces, and colors of true natural specimens is not to be found in Dam’s displays of crystal cylinders, but another kind of knowledge—that of the visual poetry of endlessly varied forms—is freely offered. Dam’s little creatures, although frozen in glass, remind of how we read and feel both time and change.
Artist Wilfried Grootens paints extraordinary figures comprised of dots and tendrils sandwiched between dozens of laminate glass layers. These strangely precise optical float paintings take on the form of some fantastic microscopic creatures and are sometimes reminiscent of the photos depicting the milliseconds before a nuclear explosion. The design of each cube is so precise, the thin layers of paint appear to completely vanish when viewed from a side angle.
At the age of 15 Grootens first apprenticed as a glass painter at the Derix Company in Germany where he learned to restore antique stained glass windows. Four years later he left on a near decade-long adventure to travel the world, play music, and experience the cultures of Asia and South America before eventually returning to his work with glass. In 1988, he received a Master Craftsman’s Diploma in Munich and by the following year had opened his own studio in Kleve.
Ukrainian glass artist Nikita Drachuk of Glass Symphony creates all manner of glass spiders, octopi, and other critters by hand. He uses a method called lampworking, where a lamp or torch is used to melt rods of colored glass. Once in a molten state, the glass can be formed by blowing and shaping with various tools and small movements. You can see more of their delicate glass critters here.
Precariously resting atop a pedestal, these wave-like glass vessels by Scottish artist Graham Muir seem to defy gravity as if frozen in a moment before crashing into the ocean. Using techniques perfected over the last decade, Muir achieves delicate shapes that seem almost chiseled or fractured, but are in fact accomplished when working while the glass is still hot. He shares via his artist statement:
Such work speaks quietly of the harmony between maker or makers and the medium. It is often the result of a path that involves many failed attempts but results in a piece all the stronger for that, where nothing needs neither added nor taken away.
I find glass to be a material that does not respond well to being dominated by the artist. For me the concept of the work is just the starting point for a conversation between the artist’s idea and the material. The artist flags up the idea, the medium responds and the discussion begins. However the material must not dominate proceedings either and hot glass, as most who work in it know, can be very persuasive in having its own way.