Studio glass

Studio glass is the modern use of glass as an artistic medium to produce sculptures or three-dimensional artworks. The glass objects created are intended to make a sculptural or decorative statement. Their prices may range from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars (US). For the largest installations, the prices are in the millions.

During the early 20th-century (before the early 1960s), contemporary glass art was generally made by teams of factory workers, taking glass from furnaces containing a thousand or more pounds. This form of glass art, of which Tiffany and Steuben in the U.S., Gallé in France and Hoya Crystal in Japan, Royal Leerdam Crystal in the Netherlands and Orrefors and Kosta Boda in Sweden are perhaps the best known, grew out of the factory system in which all glass objects were hand or mold blown by teams.

Modern glass studios use a great variety of techniques in creating glass artworks, including:

Glass casting,
Glass fusing,
Pâte de verre,
Stained glass.

From the 19th century, various types of fancy glass started to become significant branches of the decorative arts. Cameo glass was revived for the first time since the Romans, initially mostly used for pieces in a neo-classical style. The Art Nouveau movement in particular made great use of glass, with René Lalique, Émile Gallé, and Daum of Nancy important names in the first French wave of the movement, producing colored vases and similar pieces, often in cameo glass, and also using lustre techniques. Louis Comfort Tiffany in America specialized in secular stained glass, mostly of plant subjects, both in panels and his famous lamps. From the 20th century, some glass artists began to class themselves as sculptors working in glass and as part of the fine arts.

In the early 20th century, most glass production happened in factories. Even individual glassblowers making their own personalized designs would do their work in those large shared buildings. The idea of “art glass” grew – small decorative works in small production runs, often with designs or objects inside.

By the 1970s, there were good designs for smaller furnaces, and in the United States this gave rise to the “studio glass” movement of glassblowers, who worked outside of factories, often in their own buildings or studios. This coincided with a move towards smaller production runs of particular styles. This movement spread to other parts of the world as well.

This movement has produced international artists whose works of glass can be seen in art museums around the world, such as the Corning Museum of Glass, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The beginnings: Harvey K. Littleton
Harvey K. Littleton grew up in Corning, New York, a city where the glass industry had been located since the mid-19th century. His father worked as a physicist in the research department of the Corning Glass Works. As a sophomore, Littleton took a summer job at Corning and watched the handling of glowing glass. In 1947, he graduated from the University of Michigan majoring in Industrial Design.

He would have liked to open a laboratory in the Corning Glass Works, where new techniques and concepts should be tested for all other departments. But the management rejected his proposal.

Littleton had the idea that new ideas and products should emerge in the exploration of the material, that the concrete handling of glass would set the creative process in motion. However, the company’s management adhered to the traditional view that design was desk work and that designers should not mess with the material. The separation of design and production was the rule. The designers made their designs on the drawing board, then they were implemented in the fabrication of experienced glass workers. Glass was considered an industrial material that can only be processed in the environment of plants.

At first, Littleton turned away from the material glass, which apparently did not allow individual handling, and turned to the pottery. His studies in this field, he graduated in 1951 with the Master of Fine Arts. He began teaching at the University of Wisconsin. In the same year, the Corning Museum of Glass was opened.

Workshop 1962
In 1957, Littleton traveled to Europe to study the production of ceramics. In Murano near Venice, he visited numerous glass factories, tried himself in glass blowing and bought tools. In 1959 he built his first glass furnace.

He got the chance to realize his ideas in 1962: The Toledo Museum of Art enabled him to conduct two experimental workshops during which the participants melted glass in the oven and worked as glassblowers. The practical implementation, however, was not a success, since it threatened to fail due to technical problems. One of the participants was the engineer Dominick Labinowho worked in the glass industry as head of a research department. He had developed applications of glass fibers for heat insulation for space travel. With his help, the furnace was improved, as a starting material, he provided industrial glass beads with low melting point. This finally made glass blowing in the workshop possible. The first results were miserable despite the enthusiasm of the participants. But the proof that glass artists with small smelting furnaces could realize their individual works in their own studio was provided.

The Studio Glass Movement
As a result, Littleton did his best to help spread the word to the new movement. He was able to clear funds and make contacts with students and artists. As a professor at the University of Wisconsin, in 1963 he introduced the first degree program in US glass. One of his students, Marvin Lipofsky, led a degree course in 1964 at the University of Berkeley. Another student, Dale Chihuly, now an international glass artist, first studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and later led the glass department there. In 1971 he was involved in the founding of the Pilchuck Glass School, Washington.

In this way, the studio glass movement in the US spread and became increasingly an international movement during the 1970s. Glass artists in the US could usually only look back on a past of industrial glass production. Some of them traveled to Italy, Germany, Sweden or Czechoslovakia to familiarize themselves with the European tradition.

Littleton himself traveled back to Europe in 1962 and visited Germany in late August, the small town Zwiesel, one of those places in the Bavarian Forest, which like the neighboring Frauenau look back on a great glassmaking tradition. There he got a free formed vase from Erwin Eischto see what prompted him to visit Eisch immediately in Frauenau. Since the fifties he had been trying to realize his own artistic ideas in the company of his family, the Eisch Glashütte, ie glass objects that no longer conformed to traditional ideas of functionality and good form. After this initial encounter, there was no contact for two years until Erwin Eisch was invited by Littleton in 1964 to attend New York’s first World Congress of Craftsmen (WCC). This was followed by further visits by Eisch in the US, including as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin. Also, Littleton traveled again and again to Frauenau. In 1965, Eisch built a small studio glass oven on the ground floor of the family glassworks, which was used for almost ten years, not only by Eisch himself, but by other artists from the studio glass movement, especially from the USA. Today, Eisch is considered one of the pioneers of the European studio glass movement.

Regardless of these developments, and without knowing each other, Volkhard Precht had built in 1963 in Lauscha in the GDR the first studio glass furnace in Europe.

Dale Chihuly traveled to Venice in 1968 and got to know glassmaking in teamwork at the glassmaker Venini in Murano. He practiced the way several glassmakers are involved in creating a glass art work in his own studio in the United States. Sam Herman, a student of Littleton, is considered one of the founders of the studio glass movement in the UK. In the early 1970s, he introduced the study glass to higher education by setting up a glass department at the Royal College of Art in London. In 1974 he exhibited his first solo exhibition in Germany curated by Wolfgang Kermer in Stuttgart. In France began in the mid-1970s Claude Morin to experiment with a homemade oven in Dieulefit.

Museums began to be interested in the new glass art of the present. An important contribution to make the European Studioglas movement known in 1972 was the show Glas heute – Kunst oder Handwerk in 1972 at the Museum Bellerive in Zurich. In the accompanying symposium took u. a. Harvey Littleton, Erwin Eisch and Dale Chihuly. The beginnings of the studio glass movement and its international development is documented by the donation Wolfgang Kermer in the Glasmuseum Frauenau.

Techniques used in modern studios
Modern glass studios use a great variety of techniques in creating their pieces. The ancient technique of blown glass, where a glassblower works at a furnace full of molten glass using metal rods and hand tools to blow and shape almost any form of glass, is one of the more popular ways to work. Most large hollow pieces are made this way, and it allows the artist to be improvisational as they create their work.

Another type is flame-worked glass, which uses torches and kilns in its production. The artist generally works at a bench using rods and tubes of glass, shaping with hand tools to create their work. Many forms can be achieved this way with little investment into money and space. Though the artist is somewhat limited in the size of the work that can be created, a great level of detail can be achieved with this technique. The paperweights by Paul Stankard are good examples of what can be achieved with flame-working techniques. In the 21st century, flame-worked glass became commonly used as adornments on functional items. The glass conductor’s baton, commissioned by Chandler Bridges for Dr. Andre Thomas, is a clear example of flame-working being used to transform a traditional item into an artistic statement.

Cast glass can be done at the furnace, at the torch or in a kiln. Generally the artist makes a mold out of refractory, sand, or plaster and silica which can be filled with either clear glass or colored or patterned glass, depending on the techniques and effects desired. Large scale sculpture is usually created this way. Slumped glass and fused glass is similar to cast glass, but it is not done at as high of a temperature. Usually the glass is only heated enough to impress a shape or a texture onto the piece, or to stick several pieces of glass together without a glue.

The traditional technique of stained glass is still employed for the creation of studio glass. The artist cuts the glass into shapes and sets the pieces into lead cames which are soldered together. They artist can also use hot techniques in a kiln to create texture, patterns, or change the overall shape of the glass.

Etched glass is created by dipping glass that has an acid resistant pattern applied to its surface into an acid solution. Also an artist can engrave it by hand using wheels. Sandblasting can create a similar effect.

Cold glass is any glass worked without the use of heat. Glass may be cut, chiseled, sandblasted, and glued or bonded to form art objects ranging from small pieces to monumental sculpture.

International studio glass movement
The international studio glass movement originated in America, spreading to Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and Asia. The emphasis of this movement was on the artist as the designer and maker of one-of-a-kind objects, in a small studio environment. This movement enabled the sharing of technical knowledge and ideas among artists and designers that, in industry, would not be possible.

With the dominance of Modernism in the arts, there was a broadening of artistic media throughout the 20th century. Indeed, glass was part of the curriculum at art schools such as the Bauhaus. Frank Lloyd Wright’s produced glass windows considered by some as masterpieces not only of design, but of painterly composition as well. During the 1950s, studio ceramics and other craft media in the U.S. began to gain in popularity and importance, and American artists interested in glass looked for new paths outside industry. Harvey Littleton, often referred to as the “Father of the Studio Glass Movement”, was inspired to develop studio glassblowing in America by the great glass being designed and made in Italy, Sweden and many other places, and by the pioneering work in ceramics of the California potter Peter Voulkos. Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino held the now-famous glass workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962. The goal was to melt glass in a small furnace so individual artists could use glass as an art medium in a non-industrial setting. This was the workshop that would stimulate the studio glass movement that spread around the world. Instead of the large, industrial settings of the past, a glass artist could now work with a small glass furnace in an individual setting and produce art from glass.

Equipment and tools
The workshop of the master glassmaker
As can be seen in the museum of glass traditions of the city of Eu (76), the workshop usually contains:

An oven consisting of a set of refractory bricks able to withstand high temperatures obtained gradually;
A composition, that is all the materials which, in fusion, will give glass. During public demonstrations, if the creations are not intended to be preserved, the glassmaker will melt fragments of ordinary glass;
A set of metal blowing rods and variable openings;
A glass bench, a sort of large wooden seat with a lateral metal support on which the glass-maker puts his cane to work his parison; this “drop of glass” in fusion is “picked” (of cueiller, term proper to the glassware and not to pick) in the oven by rolling the cane.

During this “rolling” operation, the master glassmaker makes full use of all his knowledge of the relative viscosity of the glass according to its temperature in order to model it as he sees fit (to obtain a “void” in the middle of the parison, to then work a vase for example, the glassblower will blow in his cane and then raise the air.It is then possible to see the vacuum form during the arrival of air.Many returns to the oven to heat the material are possible, as the master glassmaker can also get up and print a swinging movement of the cane in order to partly cool down his work, on the other hand to balance it if necessary).

Tongs, that the master glassmaker uses for example to “tighten” a parison to obtain a vase neck for example, or to “catch” the glass and shape it, for example to make the legs or the mane of a little horse;
A sort of wooden trowel covered with wet newspaper, which allows the artist to “smooth” his work, for example when he wants to materialize the bottom of a vase. The paper is wet so as not to ignite on contact with the glass.
The enamel, that is to say colorations that the artist incorporated as desired by rolling over the parison.
An annealing device, that is to say a quieter oven and used longer. Indeed, and to avoid thermal shocks that would cause the breakage of the final work, it is necessary to anneal it in order to stabilize it.

The master glassmaker can use several rods. It is also interesting to see him separate the finished work of the cane to blow. It prints a dry movement of the wrist, which “breaks” the junction between the cane and the work. There remains then a mark known as “pontil mark”. Not eliminated, it recalls that the work was blown by a master glassmaker.

Types of glass

Blown glass
The glass blowers heat a glass ball at the end of a cane (hollow metal tube), and blow into this cane to inflate the glass and realize the internal vacuum. Then, they stretch, flatten, pierce this ball to give it its final shape. Once hardened, some people polish it to make patterns.

Molten glass
It is undoubtedly the oldest of the glass techniques. Egyptians and Phoenicians made amulets, precious jewels and decorations of the funeral furniture. Rapidly competing with blowing, this technique has gradually disappeared. Towards the end of the xix th century, the glass paste is fashionable again by Henry Cros, symbolist sculptor passionate about archeology. His research led to other vocations well received by the Daum brothers in Nancy.

This technique, originally discovered by the Egyptians, has been reinvented almost simultaneously by Henry Cros, Francois Georges Desprets Décorchemont and in the second part of the xix th century. It was quickly used, especially in the glass of art. Amalric Walter, Gabriel Argy-Rousseau showed themselves there.

The mold of the part to be produced is made of a refractory material (based on kaolin for example) according to various techniques including lost wax. After cooking, in stages to prevent cracks, the mold is cooled and filled with powders or granules of differently colored glasses according to the desired decoration. A new baking takes place and, after cooling, the mold is delicately destroyed by a chemical or mechanical means to clear the part whose shape and colors have been perfectly controlled.

This technique consists in laying one or more sheets of glass, possibly colored, on a refractory form whose baking relief they will marry. The hanger bombeur glass and lenses to make floor lamps, display cases of treasurer, globes clocks or married crowns that protect them from dust 2.

Glass composition, colored with metal oxides, melted and dipped in a cold water bath to reduce it to granules for the production of colored enamels or “bats” (bars); basic materials of glassmakers.

Modern regional glass art

The early glass movement (studio glass) in Australia was spurred on by a visit to Australia by American artist Bill Boysen, who toured the country in the early seventies with a mobile studio. Boysen traveled to Australia in 1974, where he promoted glass artistry by presenting a “revolutionary demonstration of glass blowing” to a gathering of around 250 attendees. Boysen’s mobile studio “successfully toured eight eastern states’ venues in ’74, thus greatly enhancing the credibility of hand crafted glass.” Boysen’s visit is credited with helping “inspire a generation of [Australian] artists to work with glass and eventually led to the creation of the national glass art collection” in Wagga Wagga, Australia. This important collection includes over 450 works of art and is “the most comprehensive public collection of Australian studio glass anywhere.” Since that time Australian glass has gained worldwide recognition with Adelaide in South Australia, hosting the International Glass Art Society Conference in 2005 on only its third occasion outside of the U.S. The Ranamok Glass Prize, presented every year from 1994 to 2014, promotes contemporary glass artists living in Australia and New Zealand.

Daniël Theys en Chris Miseur from the glass factory Theys & Miseur in Kortrijk-Dutsel, Belgium, which represent Belgian artistic glass work concerning the entire world.

In China, glass art first appeared in the Western Zhou period (1046–771 BC) and was called liuli. One of the oldest artifacts of Chinese liuli, a pair of burial ear cups, was retrieved from the archaeological site of Western Han Dynasty Prince Liu Sheng of Zhongshan in Hebei Province. Across thousands of years, the art gradually diminished until it was resurrected by artists Loretta H. Yang and Chang Yi in 1987 through the first contemporary Chinese liuli art studio Liuligongfang. In 1997, Yang and Chang released their technique and procedure to the public with the purpose of creating a diplomatic platform for education and advancement. The Liuligongfang technique has since become a key cornerstone upon which contemporary Chinese liuli is built with Yang and Chang widely recognized as the pioneers and founders of contemporary Chinese liuli.

Glass blowing began in the Roman Empire, and Italy has refined the techniques of glass blowing ever since. Until the very recent explosion of glass shops in Seattle (US), there were more on the Island of Murano (Italy) than anywhere else in world. The majority of the refined artistic techniques of glassblowing (e.g., incalmo, reticello, zanfirico, latticino) were developed there. Moreover, generations of blowers passed on their techniques to family members. Boys would begin working at the fornace (actually “furnace”—called “the factory” in English).

Japanese glass art has a short history. The first independent glass studios were built by Saburo Funakoshi and Makoto Ito, and Shinzo Kotani in separate places. Yoshihiko Takahashi and Hiroshi Yamano show their works at galleries throughout the world and are arguably Japan’s glass artists of note. Yoichi Ohira has worked with great success in Murano with Italian gaffers. The small Pacific island Niijima, administered by Tokyo. has a renowned glass art center, built and run by Osamu and Yumiko Noda, graduates of Illinois State University, where they studied with Joel Philip Myers. Every autumn, the Niijima International Glass Art Festival takes place inviting top international glass artists for demonstrations and seminars. Emerging glass artists, such as Yukako Kojima and Tomoe Shizumu, were featured at the 2007 Glass Art Society exhibition space at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Kyohei Fujita was another noteworthy Japanese studio glass artist.

Mexico was the first country in Latin America to have a glass factory in the early sixteenth century brought by the Spanish conquerors. Although traditional glass in Mexico has prevailed over modern glass art, since the 1970s there have been a List of glass artists#Mexico that have given a place to that country in international glass art.

The Netherlands
Glass art in the Netherlands is mainly stimulated by the glass designing and glass blowing factory Royal Leerdam Crystal. Such notable designers as H.P. Berlage, Andries Copier and Sybren Valkema, Willem Heesen (Master Glassblower as well) had a major influence on Dutch glass art. Later the studio glass movement, inspired by the American Harvey Littleton and the new Workgroup Glass founded by Sybren Valkema at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam led to a new generation of glass artists.

United Kingdom
Notable centres of glass production in the UK have been St. Helens in Merseyside (the home of Pilkington Glass and the site on which lead crystal glass was first produced by George Ravenscroft), Stourbridge in the Midlands and Sunderland in the North East. Sunderland is now home to the National Glass Centre which houses a specialist glass art course. St. Helens boasts a similar establishment but without the educational body attached. Perthshire in Scotland was known internationally for its glass paperweights. It has always hosted the best glass artists working on small scales, but closed its factory in Crieff, Scotland in January 2002.

Glass artists in the UK have a variety of exhibitions. The Scottish Glass Society hosts a yearly exhibition for members, the Guild of Glass Engravers exhibit every two years and the British Glass Biennale, begun in 2004 is now opening its third show.

British Glass Art owes much to the long history of craft. The majority of its glass blowers who operate small studio furnaces produce aesthetically beautiful though primarily functional objects. Technical skill as a blower is given as much importance as the artistic intent. Other notable Glasshouse artists are Steven Newell, Catherine Hough, Annette Meech and of course Simon Moore. There are a growing number of glass studios in the UK. Many specialize in production glassware while others concentrate on one off or limited edition pieces. An Arts Council funded, non-profit making organisation, the Contemporary Glass Society, founded in 1976 as British Artists in Glass, exists to promote and support the work of glass artists in the UK.

Other glass organisations in the UK are The Guild of Glass Engravers, the Scottish Glass Society and Cohesion. Cohesion is a different sort of entity to the other organisations in that it was specifically founded to promote and develop glass art as a commercial concern. It organises trade events in and around the UK and at the international level. Originally it focused only on artists based the north east of England but has since expanded its remit to cover the whole of the UK.

The Northlands Glass School was established in late 1990s in the far north of Scotland and offers residencies and masterclasses to arts students and established glass artists.

In November 2007 the glass sculpture Model for a Hotel was unveiled as an exhibit on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square, London.

United States
The United States has had two phases of development in glass. The first, in the early and mid-1900s, started in the cities of Toledo, Ohio, and Corning, New York, where factories such as Fenton and Steuben were making both functional and artistic glass pieces. Toledo’s rich history in glass goes back to the turn of the century when Libbey Glass, Owens-Illinois and Johns Manville led the world in the manufacturing of glass products. Their reputations earned Toledo the title of the “Glass Capital of the World.” These industry leaders, along with the Toledo Museum of Art, sponsored the first glass workshop in 1961. This workshop would lead to a new movement in American studio glass.

The American Studio Glass Movement

The second, and most prominent, phase in American glass began in 1962, when then-ceramics professor Harvey Littleton and chemist Dominick Labino began the contemporary glassblowing movement. The impetus for the movement consisted of their two workshops at the Toledo Museum of Art, during which they began experimenting with melting glass in a small furnace and creating blown glass art. Littleton and Labino were the first to make molten glass feasible for artists in private studios. Harvey Littleton extended his influence through his own important artistic contributions and through his teaching and training, including many of the most important contemporary glass artists, including Marvin Lipofsky, Sam Herman (Britain), Fritz Dreisbach and Dale Chihuly.

In 1964, Tom McGlauchlin started one of the first accredited glass programs at the University of Iowa, and Marvin Lipofsky founded the university-level glass program at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1964, Dr. Robert C. Fritz founded a university-level glass program at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Harvey Littleton, Bill H. Boysen built the first glass studio at Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, North Carolina, in 1965. After graduating in 1966, he started the graduate glass program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois. Dale Chihuly initiated the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1969. Tom McGlauchlin joined the Toledo Museum of Art as Professor and Director of Glass in conjunction with the University of Toledo’s Art program in 1971.

American Glass Schools and Studios
The growth of studio glass led to the formation of glass schools and art studios located across the country. The largest concentrations of glass artists are located in Seattle, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. San Francisco, Los Angeles/Orange County and Corning, New York also have sizable concentrations of artists working in glass.

The Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle has become a mecca for glass artists from all over the world. Those who attend Pilchuck, either college students or established artists, have the opportunity to attend master classes and exchange skills and information in an environment dedicated solely to glass based arts.

Pittsburgh Glass Center in Pittsburgh has residency programs for artists working in glass, as well as a facility for artists to make use of for their works. Pittsburgh Glass Center offers classes to the public on glassblowing and many other forms of glass art. Philadelphia hosts a small array of glass studios for artists that use glass. Home to the National Liberty Museum (featuring all exhibits by international glass artists), Philadelphia hosts the non-profit P.I.P.E. program, with residencies for artists that use glass as well as metal, electroforming on glass, and bronze casting. The state of Pennsylvania has a long tradition of the production of industrial glass and its influence has quickly been absorbed by artists working in glass.

The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, established in 1996, is an internationally renowned teaching facility in Corning, NY. Classes and workshops are held for new and experienced glassworkers and artists. The Studio’s residency program brings artists from around the world to Corning for a month to work in The Studio facilities, where they can explore and develop new glassblowing techniques or expand on their current bodies of work. Artists working in The Studio have access to the collections of The Corning Museum of Glass, and benefit from the resources of the Rakow Research Library, whose holdings cover the art and history of glass and glassmaking.

Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, located in the historic glass industry capital of Millville, New Jersey, is a nonprofit art and history education center that is home to the Museum of American Glass, which houses the largest collection of American glass objects in the world. The collection includes historical glass as well as contemporary work from some of the glass world’s biggest names. In addition to the museum, WheatonArts operates a world-class glass studio under the creative direction of Hank Murta Adams. The Creative Glass Center of America, which is funded by WheatonArts and crucial to its mission of continuing Millville’s legacy in the glass world, hosts a fellowship program exclusively for up-and-coming and mid-career artists working in glass. Well-known alumnae of the CGCA fellowship include Steve Tobin (1983) Kait Rhoads (1997 and 2008), Lino Tagliapietra (1989), Beth Lipman (2001), Gregory Nangle (2006), Deborah Czeresko (2006 and 2010), Angus Powers (2003), and Stephen Paul Day (1992, 1997, 2004, and 2009).

Source from Wikipedia