Art Inspired by Nature: The Luminous Glasswork of Artist Randi Solin

December 2nd, 2009 § 2

solinglass-shard-series-autumn-bowl 6.5 x 10 x 10 (shards and cane)

Autumn Bowl, Shard Series, 6.5 x 10 x 10 inches

I am always excited when visiting studios as part of the ongoing series, ‘Art Inspired by Nature’, for The Gardener’s Eden. I love seeing other artists’ work environments and, even better, watching as they work. It’s a rare treat for an outsider to actually see a piece of art created from start to finish and to become, if only for a minute, part of that experience. Glass blowing is an art with a dramatic visual process, and the creation of a glass vase is a spectacular event to behold…

When I visited Solinglass two weeks ago, Randi Solin and her team of glassblowers welcomed me and made me feel completely at home while I peppered them with questions and photographed them working. A glass artist since 1986, Randi was a photography student at Alfred University in upstate New York, when she discovered her passion for glass. After completing her arts education, Randi moved west and continued to study glass blowing while working as a studio assistant, artist and teacher. In 1995, Randi began her own glass studio, Solinglass, while living in California. Today Randi’s studio is located in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she and her studio team of three, (George, Marie and Michael), work forming exquisite, award-winning glass vessels. Solinglass is available in galleries throughout the United States, (see list of location at the Solinglass website ), and is shown in many national exhibitions each year. Randi’s work is widely collected both by individuals and corporations, including Air France, Lufthansa and UPS, among others. In addition, Solinglass may be found in major national and international public collections including those of the White House, the Petersburg Museum, and United States Embassies in Guinea and Algeria. And I must also mention that the entire studio was excited to tell me that Randi’s Solinglass  work was recently chosen for inclusion in the prestigious Smithsonian Museum Show this coming April 2010. Congratulations Solinglass …

solinglass-shard-series-summer-bowlSummer Bowl, 6.5 x 10 x 10 inches

 

 

Because Randi’s blown glass artwork is so painterly and organic in style, I immediately felt drawn to her vessels, even before I had the opportunity to actually meet and talk with her. Each series begins with natural inspiration; the seasons, landscape, herbs and spices, botanical elements, abstracted shapes and forms. The artist then moves to a conceptual stage; translating her visions into glass designs through experimentation, planning and continuously evolving, signature techniques. The layers of sheer and massed color in Randi’s work give her pieces an extraordinary, three dimensional quality and a glowing, luminous presence. Watching her work is not unlike watching a painter, only this artist draws with ‘paint’ that is hot as molten lava, and blends with blue-tipped, blow-torch ‘brushes’. Her old-world tools include wooden paddles, long metal pipes and blow-cones, medieval-looking glass scissors and chisels, among other fascinating implements, all unfamiliar to my curious eyes…

While visiting the studio I watched Randi and her hot-glass assistants create a ‘Shard Bowl’ from the series – start to finish. Below are some photographs I took during various stages of the glass blowing process. Randi’s technique combines elements from both the American glass movement and Venetian, (from the island of Murano), methods. To understand more about Randi’s work, and to watch her blowing glass, I suggest visiting her website where you may view a short film on her process

 

Solin Glass R Solin

Randi Solin adding glass, glowing like lava, to the blow pipe. Glass is heated to 2,300, with a working temperature of 2,120 degrees fahrenheit. All of this heat and physical activity make for steamy work environment…

Solin Glass cooling pipe

Cooling the blow pipe for handling…

Solin Glass Team Working on Vessel

George and Marie begin to form the vessel, blowing and turning…

Solin Glass adding pigment

Randi adds color to the clear vessel with fine glass particles, hand sifted onto the hot surface. This first layer is similar to a painter’s first ‘wash’. The vessel is then reheated to liquify this powdery glass…

Solin Glass, Adding glass

Randi adds organic shapes, forms and patterns with glass cane and shards. The cane are long strings of colored glass, pulled into spaghetti-like strands while hot. When these strings liquify in the glory-hole, they move like drips of paint across a canvas…

Solin Glass Process

In the shard series, chunky, broken pieces of glass  form the large colored masses in Randi’s work. These multicolored pieces are a challenge to work with, as they all heat and cool at differing rates. Randi and her team begin to speed up their process; heating, cooling, molding and shaping the vessel as they work it. Air is continually blown into the vessel to maintain the interior bubble…

Solin Glass torch

In Randi’s glass studio, blowtorches and metal tools become paint-brushes…

Solin Glass Torch

Randi, her two assistants and the glass are all in continuous motion…

Solin Glass Team

Randi designs and works every piece individually, with the continuous support of her hot-glass team…

Solin Glass R. Solin

Solin Glass final visit to glory hole

The vessel, nearly finished, emerging from the glory hole…

Solin Glass, Randi pulling neck

Randi pulls the neck with tools…

Solin Glass, Ranid cutting neck

Cutting the loose edge…

Solin Glass working final neck shape

And blowing a graceful mouth…

Solin Glass turning

The turning process involves many tools and methods, from the complex to the simple, as demonstrated by this photo of Randi working with bare hands and wet paper on hot glass…

Solin Glass cutting vessel

Once removed from the pipe, the beautiful vase will cool in the annealer, a kiln-like, heat controlled oven. This will allow the glass to cool slowly and evenly, to avoid internal stress and cracking. Once removed, the vessel will move to Michael in the cold room for grinding, polishing and signing…

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solinglass-shard-series-bowl 8 x 10 x 10 inches shards

A finished piece from the series, Shard Bowl, 8 x 10 x 10 inches

Solinglass studio will be open to the public for the annual Cotton Mill Open Studio Weekend and Holiday Sale event, December 4th – 6th. This is a rare opportunity for collectors in New England to acquire discontinued pieces and unsigned studio-seconds, (all gorgeous). Prices at this event start at just $25. Directions and details on this event, including information about other fine artisans, are available at the Cotton Mill Studios website. Randi’s assistants, George and Marie, are also glass artists. Marie Formichelli Gaffers also shows her own glass creations, for information please visit Vermont Artisan Designs.

Thank you so much Randi, Marie, George and Michael, for inviting me in and generously sharing your time, expertise, process and beautiful glass vases with The Gardener’s Eden

solinglass-flat-vessel-saharaSahara, Flat Vessel Series, 13 x 10 x 4 inches. This series emphasizes the artist’s painterly approach to glass; the vessel serving as a three dimensional canvas for multiple layers ‘drawn’ and ‘brushed’ onto the luminous surface…

solinglass-flat-vessel-window-flat

Window, 13 x 10 x 4 inches, (part of the Window Series)…

solinglass-emperor-bowl-catalonia-bowl

Catalonia, Emperor Bowl Series, 7 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches. This series is inspired by a form of ancient pottery designed to hold a single flower…

solinglass-emperor-bowl-gold-ruby-with-sterling-silver-leaf

Gold Ruby, Emperor Bowl Series, 7 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches, Hand blown, free form glass, colored with gold ruby frit and a multi-layering of sterling silver leaf  – cut and polished

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To watch a video of Randi and her team, blowing glass in the studio, click below:

Solinglass Video

For further information about Randi Solin and for gallery links, please visit :  Solinglass

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Article and studio process photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all photographs of completed vessels are courtesy of Solinglass.

Artists featured on The Gardener’s Eden appear in an editorial context. No payment of any kind is received by The Gardener’s Eden for editorial article features.

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§ 2 Responses to “Art Inspired by Nature: The Luminous Glasswork of Artist Randi Solin”

  • All I ever wanted to know, see and understand about glass blowing…..Wow. That’s amazing, that’s each piece had created…handmade, hand crafted. Thank you

  • Michaela says:

    I am so glad you enjoyed the article. The visit to Solinglass was a thrill. Yes, there is so much work involved in each hand blown vessel. It is truly remarkable, and clearly both a great passion and labor of love for the artists.
    Thank you for stopping by, and for commenting. I have enjoyed reading your blog over the past few weeks, and posted it in the roll on the right.
    xo Michaela