Self-taught artist Ben Young is a man of many exceptional talents from surfing and skateboarding to repairing furniture and working full-time as a qualified boat builder. He’s also spent the last decade exploring the art of sculpting with glass, an endeavor that’s become increasingly rewarding as galleries and collectors have started to take notice.
Using sheet after sheet of carefully cut glass, Young builds both abstract and realistic interpretations of waves and bodies of water, undoubtedly influenced by growing up near the beautiful Bay of Plenty on the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Many people assume his work is made with the help of machines, or maybe even 3D printing, but instead everything is done completely by hand, from his initial sketches on paper to the manual cutting of each glass pane, a process he aptly describes as “a lot of work.”
Honeybees Swarming a Floral Hive Cluster. Photo by Ron Farina.
Though it may seem implausible, these translucent orbs bursting with activity and life are made entirely from glass by New Jersey-based artist Paul Stankard, largely considered to be the father of modern glass paperweights. While many will find his work instantly recognizable, if you’re like me, you might have been unaware that modern glass paperweights existed. Stankard is a pioneer in the studio glass movement and his techniques have helped change the course of artistic glass for the last few decades.
After battling undiagnosed dyslexia for his entire youth (at one time graduating the bottom of his class), Stankard struggled greatly to identify his life’s calling. While in college he discovered scientific glass blowing, the manual process of creating scientific instruments out of glass for use in laboratories. He was instantly hooked and for 10 years worked with industrial glass. Eventually the pressure of a growing family at home lead to an experiment with the creation of glass paperweights in his garage to supplement his income.
When Stankard suddenly directed a decade of industrial glassworking techniques into the interpretation of flowers, bees, vines, and leaves encased in glass, it wasn’t long before an art dealer discovered his work and he began to create art full-time. His pieces now appear in over 60 museums around the world including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Louvre.
California-based glass artist Loren Stump specializes in a form of glasswork called murrine, where rods of glass are melted together and then sliced to reveal elaborate patterns and forms. While the murrina process appeared in the Mideast some 4,000 years ago, Stump has perfected his own technique over the past 35 years to the point where he can now layer entire portraits and paintings in glass before slicing them to see the final results. His most complex piece to date is a detailed interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, which involved hundreds of glass components that were melted into a final piece. You can see more of Stump’s 2D and 3D work over on his website. (via Lost at E Minor)
Psychogeography 45 (2014) | all photos courtesy the artist
Psychogeography 42 – detail
Psychogeography 45 (2014) – detail
Psychogeography 45 (2014) – detail
Psychogeography 43 (2014)
Psychogeography 43 (2014) – detail
Psychogeography 43 (2014) – detail
Untitled Small Figure 07
Psychogeography 41 (2013)
Psychogeography is the act of exploring an urban environment with an emphasis on curiosity and drifting. Or, more colloquially put, a “toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities.” For the Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin, his toy box is full of everything he finds on the street—flowers, leaves, bugs, and even dead rats, which are then composed into three-dimensional collages and sealed behind resin.
In his most recent series “Psychogeographies,” Yellin uses multiple layers of glass, each covered in detailed imagery, to create a single intricate, three-dimensional collage with a mix of magazine cut-outs and acrylic paint. When pressed to describe what he does, Yellin struggles, but not with a lack of words. Here is an excerpt from a mini-essay “concerning the difficulty of saying something about what I do.”
“Is it a copout to say “the work speaks for itself”?
I feel like it is
But I’m also awful talking about what the work is.
So sometimes I say “it speaks for itself”
But what does that even mean?
However, he does offer some advice:
First and foremost, they’re massive see-through blocks
And that’s one way to read them, listen to them “speaking”
As massive see through blocks.
Another is to listen to what’s inside them
The forms, the clippings, the dead things, the painted things,
Frozen between the layers of glass, what I’ve called
The captured and frozen “dynamism” of culture.
Currently on view at Wade Wilson Art in Houston, Texas is this spectacular collection of glass butterflies by artist Michael Crowder titled Mariposa Mori. The artist forms the brittle insects using a technique called pâte de verre that involves the fusion of tiny glass particles. The final pieces are then displayed in wood cases with felt lining similar in form to traditional entomology display boxes. For other artworks Crowder has been known to use similar particulate substances like sugar, chocolate, marble dust or cigarette ashes. Via Wade Wilson:
The butterflies are made in a method called pâte de verre, which translates to “paste of glass.” Itself a 19th century French creation, pâte de verre is at its simplest melting glass particles together. The variation on this technique that I have developed is to use very small particles of glass roughly the size of grains of sugar and to heat them to a precisely controlled point where I can melt and fuse the particles together, but still allow them to retain an open crystalline surface texture. The effect is almost impossibly delicate and fragile looking, as a butterfly wing should be.
You can see much more of Crowder’s work on his website. The exhibition runs through October 25th. (via Ex-Chamber)
Born in Tokyo, Dusseldorf-based artist Ramon Todo creates beautiful textural juxtapositions using layers of glass in unexpected places. Starting with various stones, volcanic rock, fragments of the Berlin wall, and even books, the artist inserts perfectly cut glass fragments that seem to slice through the object resulting in segments of translucence where you would least expect it. You can see more of his work over on Art Front Gallery, and here. (via My Amp Goes to 11)
For their very first date, photographer Nick Olson took designer Lilah Horwitz on a walk in the mountains of West Virginia. While chatting and getting to know each other during a particularly scenic sunset the two jokingly wondered what it would be like to live in a house where the entire facade was windows, so the sunset would never be contained within a small space. Where most people would file the idea away as a dream or maybe an item at the bottom of a bucket list, the newly minted couple were a bit more aggressive. Less than a year later the two quit their jobs and embarked on a road trip starting in Pennsylvania to collect dozens of windows from garage sales and antique dealers. A few weeks later they arrived in West Virginia and built the glass cabin in the exact same spot where they envisioned it on their fist date.
Filmmakers Matt Glass and Jordan Wayne Long of Half Cut Tea caught up with Horwirz and Olson to learn more about the construction of the building and their unusually strong commitment to following through with their artistic visions.