Glass artist Janis Miltenberger draws on the roles of mythology and storytelling as attempts to explain our experience of the world to build complex glass sculptures. Her work often takes the shape of recognizable objects, like human figures and chairs, which are then filled with incredible detail. The artist uses borosilicate glass, and enhanced with glass colors, gold luster, sandblasting, and oil paint.
Miltenberger shares with Colossal that she was originally drawn to ceramics, and discovered glassblowing in college, where she apprenticed with Richard Marquis. Many years later, she was introduced to lampworking, which is her preferred technique today. She explains, “working alone with a torch was more personal and I don’t think I was quite as aware at that point how I needed that space set apart to focus and identify my ideas and voice.”
The artist’s most recent series, “Doctrine of Signatures,” is based on The Signature of All Things, a 17th century book by Jakob Boehme which detailed the commonly-held belief that the outward appearance of a plant reflected its medicinal value. She is currently working on a large installation that moves away from her decorative style. In fall 2018, Miltenberger will be teaching in Niijima, Japan, and her work will be shown at the Bellevue Art Museum in Washington state. (via Lustik)
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Marcus Wendt, creative director at the London-based studio Field, recently traveled to the island of Lanzarote to shoot a series of macro images of the region’s native plants. His project, Suprachromacy transforms cacti and other light-absorbing species into vibrant, multi-hued beings through infrared photography. Needles and spines of one species glow bright blue, while others are illuminated in deep orange tones.
The project was inspired by Isaac Newton’s quote, “For the Rays, to speak properly, are not colored. In them, there is nothing else than a certain power and disposition to stir up a sensation of this or that color.” Its intension is to spark inquiry about a color’s origin. Is color an inherent part of the object? Or is it an individualized sensation?
“For us, these alien color spectra spark ideas about how we see color, how much depth is locked up in the color green, and whether color is a property or a sensation,” says Wendt. “And also what plants might look like on planets under a different colored sun.”
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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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Miniature-builder and ceramicist Jedediah Corwyn Voltz constructs tiny homes, studios, and workshops perched within or around domestic objects. Previously we’ve covered his mini treehouses—impressive structures that scale succulents and other common houseplants with the support of petite scaffolding. Recently the artist has combined two of his preferred mediums, building small-scale interior scenes in the cross-section of his handmade ceramic vessels.
The multi-piece sculptures feature workbenches, complex machinery, crystals, and telescopes which peer from the top of the converted pots. These miniature workshops will be exhibited in the group show Bad Ass Miniatures: … Causing a Little Trouble at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures in Yonkers, New York from May 5 through July 22. You can view more of the Los Angeles-based artist’s ceramic works and tiny houseplant homes on his Instagram and Big Cartel.
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The small fishing village of Houtouwan on the Chinese island of Shengshan has been abandoned since the 1990’s. Due to increased competition with nearby Shanghai and a depleted fishing supply, residents were forced to find work in other towns, leaving their own coastal village to the whim of Mother Nature.
Today the ghost town is only visited by tourists curious to see the vine-wrapped homes and other buildings swallowed by untamed greenery. Shanghai-based photographer and videographer Joe Nafis visited the area last year with fellow photographer Dave Tacon. It took them nearly 36 hours to reach the village due to lack of ferries or connection with other towns in the area. Once in town, Nafis explored the area on foot, as well as from above with his drone.
“Using the drone to explore the village first was a good idea as the paths were not well maintained and overgrown,” Nafis tells Colossal. “Some of the buildings were in tatters, while others looked like they were going through a remodel. It was all very strange. On the Sunday there were a few tourists, about ten to fifteen, and then on Monday we were the only people in the village other than the three to four that still lived there.”
You can view drone footage from the photographer’s visit to the overgrown village in the video below. He recently released an aerial time lapse video focusing on Shanghai’s urban development over the last seven years on his website, and more video-based projects by Nafis can be found on his Instagram and Vimeo. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Philodendron Xanad is a repeating site-specific installation by Belgium-based artist Ruben Bellinkx that physically imbeds a common houseplant into the walls of galleries and homes. The plant calmly rests on one side of the wall as several of its leaves reach through layers of dry wall and wooden beams to grow on the other side.
“The plant literally grows through the wall,” Bellinkx told Colossal. “I make a hole in the wall and place the plant so that there are enough leaves on the other side. Then I close everything with wooden panels. When there is enough light on the other side, the place grows further and lasts for a maximum of four months.”
The artist is a guest professors at KASK, the University College in Ghent, Belgium in the department of Fine Arts (Drawing), and lives in Brussels. His work is currently included in the group exhibition The Raft. Art is (not) Lonely, curated by Jan Fabre and Joanna De Vos at Mu.ZEE in Ostend, Belgium through April 15. You can view documentation of the installation process for Philodendron Xanad below, and see more of Bellinkx’s temporary installations and photography on his website.
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A Project Aims to Create the World’s Largest Hanging Garden Since Babylon Within the Branches of a 114-Foot Tree
The French masterminds of mechanical delight, Les Machines de L’ile, have an ambitious new project underway. L’Arbre aux Hérons (The Heron’s Tree) is set to be the largest hanging garden built since ancient Babylon, spanning over 160 feet in diameter and reaching 114 feet into the sky. Their Nantes-based team describes the historic muses behind the project:
Inspired by the worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci, it is an unprecedented artistic project. After the Grand Elephant and the Machine Gallery in 2007, the Carousel of the Sea Worlds in 2012, the Herons’ Tree is the third phase of the Island’s Machines. Coming out of the minds of François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, it will be located along the banks of the Loire River, a few meters away from the house Jules Verne spent his teenage years in and where Jean-Jacques Audubon grew up and drew his first herons.
Les Machines de L’ile have been working on The Heron’s Tree since their inception in 2007, and in the spirit of democratic discovery, their team of skilled craftspeople have been sharing the prototypes with visitors to the Machine Gallery. The sketches and mock-ups for the project include a giant steel tree topped with two herons that each carry twenty passengers on circular flights. Half of the tree’s twenty-two branches can be traversed on foot by visitors, and all of the branches will support hanging terraces of plants and gardens to create a lush ecosystem. The tree itself will be set in an old granite quarry on the cliffs of Brittany.
The goal is to open The Heron’s Tree in 2022, and two thirds of the 35 million euro project cost is being covered by public funding. Les Machines de L’ile is seeking to fund the rest through crowdfunding: you can contribute via Kickstarter. You can also track the project’s progress on Facebook.
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Editor's Picks: Plants
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