French artist Julie Gonce's artworks imitate the beauty and detail of natural forms—budding flowers, moss growing within fallen branches, and dew delicately balanced on strands of fresh grass. Gonce has been creating her glossy sculptures since 1997, and uses her torch similarly to how a conductor uses a baton—with precision, passion, and timely delicacy. Her sculpted forms ask the viewer to be attentive to our changing planet, and to notice how beautiful and bountiful nature is as it continually replicates.
Gonce was raised around artists who ignited her creativity and influenced her to create unique work. “I grew up surrounded by artisans and artists, and I quickly discovered that I wanted a hands-on profession,” Gonce tells Colossal. “I chose glass by chance, but when I did a glassblowing training course I was immediately drawn to it.”
Gonce is passionate about preserving ancient French glassmaking techniques and uses traditional methods including glassblowing, lampworking, and glass beadmaking. When glassblowing, Gonce brings a rod of glass up to the required temperature and blows air into it to create a voluminous shape. Her lampworking involves two rods of glass which are brought together and stretched and sculpted into a chosen object. She then uses a glass beading technique which involves winding molten glass around a metal rod which she then cools and draws glass beads from.
Using two different types of glass (borosilicate and soda-lime), Gonce fuses her sculptures with natural forms: wood, seeds, mushrooms, paper, textiles, metals, bones, and even feathers. “Stitching is present in all of my sculptures, that’s how the materials are bound,” she explains.
Torchworking requires Gonce to be in perfect command of her body; by being aware of her breathing and movements she can create various shapes in molten glass. “At the heart of all of my creations, there is always the pleasure of seeing the flame and the glass melting,” says Gonce. “What I love about glass work is that there is nothing between the glass and the flame but the torch worker’s hands.”
Gonce’s relationship with the natural world is the source of her artistic inspiration, which provides her with a means of escaping everyday life. She gains motivation from living near a forest where she is constantly surrounded by ever-changing textures and lustrous colors which is reflected in the detail of her designs. “I need to live close to nature since it is my source of inspiration,” she says.
Gonce’s manipulation of glass creates movement as light dances upon her sculptures, much like how light ripples amongst flowers and plants swaying in the breeze. Gonce is currently exhibiting her sculptures at Galerie Collection in Paris alongside other several other French artists’ work. The exhibition runs until early 2019. You can see more of her pieces on her website.