Rhode Island-based glass artist Claire Kelly creates adorable animal sculptures out of glass that connect to serious issues concerning the environment. Balancing on balls and standing precariously in boats and on peanuts, the little birds, giraffes, and elephants invite viewers to consider the fragility of the world and how micro-level choices can have a major impact.
Kelly tells Colossal that the series of animal sculptures began in 2014 after a hiatus from her other work. The works were born from drawings and sketches she made as a creative outlet. Working with colored strips of glass called cane, the process and materials affect the size of the final pieces. The cane allows for complex patterns, but in preparation for the glass blowing process they need to be heated on a flat kiln shelf. “The size of the kiln shelf plays a part in how large the final glass piece can be,” Kelly explains. “The larger the shelf the heavier it is and the larger team and heating chamber I need to have.” While she does occasionally work at a larger scale, the artist says that size is not the most important factor because she is inviting viewers into “an intimate microcosm.”
Although she works with easily recognizable animals, Kelly’s use of color and pattern adds an imaginative element. “Depending on the animal and form I try to use colors that come right up to the edge of being conflicting but somehow work together,” she explains. “Color is so emotionally charged and I often find myself getting really happy when using certain colors in combination…I experiment a lot and have a sense of how some colors react to their neighbors. There’s a really sense of harmony and balance that I look for when planning a color scheme.”
As Kelly has continued to explore representational themes in her work, she shares that her has recently been inspired by creating multiple related pieces in a tableau. “It’s modular and adds interest from a design standpoint,” the artist shares. “I can create forms that interact with each other while telling a story about their little world.” To discover more of Claire Kelly’s colorful creatures, follow her on Instagram.
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Glass artist Laura Hart (previously) uses a range of techniques to translate her love of plants and animals into meticulously crafted sculptures. For her “Butterflies” series, the artist has recreated rare species and subspecies from around the world with bright colors and symmetrical designs that perfectly mimic their natural muses.
Never recreating the same species twice, Hart casts the bodies of her one-of-a-kind insects using the lost wax molding and pate de verre kiln casting processes. Each delicate sculpture is around 18cm wide. A glass fusing method is used to make the realistic wings in stages, with intense hues and translucent sections outlined in black. The sections form tiny stained glass windows, altering the light that passes through and reflecting onto the tables and display stands. Sterling silver pieces are added to complete the sculptures, forming the legs, antennae, and proboscides of the colorful creatures.
To see more of Laura Hart’s glass works, check out the artist’s Facebook page.
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Glass artist Simone Crestani uses borosilicate glass with a lampworking technique to create detailed glass sculptures. Each piece imitates imperfect organic forms such as twisting Japanese bonsai trees or lopsided coral. Bonsai is an ongoing theme Crestani often returns to, and views as being a base of his studio practice. “The bonsai is a concentration of life, it overcomes the barrier of size and expresses strength and energy; it is a work of art that is never finished, in which nature continues to develop and evolve,” he explains on his website. “I shape the [glass], but the end result has an identity of its own. I help it to grow, and wait until it gives me an indication of the equilibrium that will allow it to express itself.” You can see more of his glass-based designs, which also include bubbles, bugs, and unusual glasses, on Instagram. (via designboom)
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In the latest collection by Amber Cowan (previously), colorful vintage glass is sculpted into three fairytale stories: Bridesmaid’s Forest, Bridesmaid’s Search for the Desert Rose, and Grotto of the Chocolate Nymph. Cowan transforms discarded glass from the 1900s into sculptural “paintings” that burst with natural forms, and her latest collection of monochrome scenes effortlessly tempts viewers into their enchanted worlds.
Cowan first curates the color of each piece, collecting specific figurines and animals from vintage glass works. She then melts the rest of the glass through a methodical flameworking process to create the scenery that will surround the found figurines. Leaves, flowers, feathers, and tiny glistening pearls are carefully crafted to fill each dense, botanical world.
The female figurine central to her mint-green Bridesmaid’s Forest was originally part of a glass ornament called The Bridesmaid, which was pressed from the Ohio-based Fenton Art Glass Factory. Cowan built a fantastical world around the bridesmaid, sculpting a colorful leaf-filled forest which features a whale, snail, and duck nestled within the fragile glass shrubbery. “My story with this piece is that the bridesmaid got bored of the wedding and wandered off to make her own fun,” Cowan explains to Colossal. “It is kind of a fantasy landscape.”
Bridesmaid’s Search for the Desert Rose is a spiritual adventure where the natural elements featured in the piece were chosen for their symbolism and how they relate to the bridesmaid’s story. “The figurine is standing in front of a pyramidal line pointed towards the sun; next to her is her feline companion and across from her is the totem animal of the giraffe symbolizing the ability to see into the future and obtain things that are normally out of reach,” she explains. At the base of the sculpture are two swans which fill the narrative with themes of intuition, self-actualization, and love.
Cowan’s chocolate-colored Grotto of the Chocolate Nymph, is exhibited in the permanent collection of The Toledo Museum of Art and was inspired by Jan Brueghel the Elder’s painting A Fantastic Cave with Odysseus and Calypso in addition to the16th century Grotto Grande in the Boboli Gardens in Florence. “Chocolate Nymph” refers to “chocolate glass,” a popular glass color in the early 1900s that is no longer produced.
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Thousands of Shards of Glass Imitate Blurred Motion in a Towering Public Sculpture by Costas Varotsos
First completed in 1988, Dromeas or “The Runner,” is a 40-foot-tall public sculpture created by Greek artist Costas Varotsos. The densely layered work is formed from thousands of jagged shards of greenish-grey glass which are stacked around iron in the formation of a runner in motion. Originally the piece was installed in the Athens’s Omonia Square, but due to fear that it would topple from underground metro vibrations, in 1994 the city moved the piece to Megalis tou Genous Sholi square. When designing the sculpture, Varotsos considered which types of movement occur in these public spaces and how they might impact the viewing of his work.
“The position of people on the square is never fixed,” he explains. “As is the case with every city, here, too, objects and buildings are things you see while in motion. Rarely do you stop to look closely at something. Individuals observing the sculpture do so at two speeds, depending on where they are on the square: walking on the sidewalks or driving by in a car. The kind of space operating here is not only a purely visual one, but also one open to the sense of touch; one generating a tactile sensation.”
The ambiguous figure is meant to capture the exact moment one finishes a race—be that a literal translation of a marathon, or a more loose interpretation of conquering a challenging moment. You can see more of Varotsos’s public sculptures on his website. (via Atlas Obscura)
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Los Angeles-based artist Colin Roberts began creating pillows out of perspex, or plexiglass, in 2008. The solid imitations of typically plush objects are shaped to be dented and slumped which presents the illusion of softness despite their stiff composition. “I was inspired to use the pillow shape because it’s an object that is so common, yet as humans, we all have a special relationship to, without realizing it,” Roberts explains to Colossal. “A pillow is something every human can recognize and long for when needing rest. It represents comfort, rest, and sleep for our mind, body, and soul.”
The patchwork sculptures are often multi-colored and refract light like a mirrored disco ball. The artist’s work is currently being exhibited in the group exhibition Divided Brain at LAVA Projects in Los Angeles through December 16, 2018. You can see more of Roberts’s plexiglass sculptures on his website and Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.