with glass sculpture
Glass artist Jennifer Halvorson manipulates vintage canning jars into sculptural portraits tied to memories of making fruit preserves with her family. The antique vessels are each imbedded with utensils that fit perfectly into indentations pressed into the side of the glass objects, and placed in arrangements that connect to her personal narrative.
To create the works, Halvorson slowly warms the jars and then attaches them to a metal rod. After raising the temperature of the pieces, she then carefully torches one area and delicately presses a metal knife, spoon, or fork into the soft interior. “The result of the transformation allows the cutlery to fit perfectly into the jar, showing an active presence within the nostalgic object, but with the absence of a person,” she tells Colossal.
Halvorson has begun to make her own glass jars through rubber molds, wax molding, metal casting, and hot glass blowing molds for her series Preserve Words. Five pieces from this series will be included in the group exhibition Reflections at Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina from July 1 to August 25, 2018. You can see more of Halvorson’s glass interventions and sculptures on her website.
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Colorful orchids, identical in size, bloom in UK artist Laura Hart’s studio. From their bilateral symmetry to their splashes of pigment, the glass designer’s perfectly crafted forms illustrate the strange exotic beauty of the plant species. With their soft and fleshy glass petals, Hart’s botanical sculptures appear as fully bloomed flower heads, each of which has a different pattern to reflect the diversity of the species. “My fascination with orchids spans decades and at one point I had nearly seventy in my conservatory,” Hart tells Colossal. “The explosion of color and perfume during the flowering months intoxicate the senses.”
Hart’s route to making glass sculptures has been a convoluted path alongside many creative pursuits. “Beginning with oils and canvas at around the age of twelve, treading the boards at seventeen, video production in my twenties and thirties, heritage building renovation, 3D animation design in my forties, and, at last, the glorious world of glass in my fifties,” she says.
Hart was unexpectedly brought to glass when asked to design a sculpture in steel and glass for a concept artist, and hasn’t looked back since. “I needed to better understand the glass making process in order to achieve the design, so I observed some wonderfully talented glass artists at work. I was utterly captivated and there the obsession began.”
Each flower is about twelve inches (thirty cm) in diamteter, and takes Hart up to ten days to make. She tries to recreate the species as faithfully and authentically as possible, whilst imbuing them with her artistic interpretation.
The artist creates orchid-shaped moulds using 3D modeling and animation software. “The templates for each flower are animated into shapes to simulate glass flow within the kiln to ensure that every flower will slump into the correct shape without stressing the glass in the process,” Hart explains.
Hart then cuts each petal individually and uses glass powders and frits for the first firing. “Veining is then applied from hair fine strands of glass created by pulling thin shards of glass through a flame. There can be as many as six firing processes to achieve the final result. The flowers are then sandblasted to create a satin sheen, and coated with a waterproof spray to bring out the color and prevent finger marks.”
The three-dimensional details in Hart’s glass orchids are added from cutting sheet glass which are applied to the petals and re-fired. “Once all the detail and color is applied to each petal they are fused together to create the flat flower shape. Finally, the flower is placed on the mould and fired to slump position.”
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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.
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