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Craft Science

Hand-Blown Glass Vessels by Kiva Ford Are Exacting Miniatures of Scientific and Household Goods

March 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Kiva Ford, shared with permission

Artist Kiva Ford (previously) spends his days shaping minuscule vessels for chemists, engineers, and physicists. He manages the custom scientific glass shop at the University of Notre Dame, where he’s tasked with creating unique instruments designed for specific research projects. The exacting quality of these pieces is reflected in all of his hand-blown works, which range from Klein bottles and flasks to vases, pitchers, and jars holding anatomical sculptures in miniature.

COVID-19 increased the demand for his wares, Ford tells Colossal, and he currently has a number of colorful pieces available on Etsy. On March 19, he’ll be hosting a demonstration of nesting a small vessel inside a larger, identical work at the International Flameworking Conference in New Jersey. You can also find videos and images documenting his process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Science

In 'Glass Microbiology,' Sculptures Explore the Science Behind Modeling Viruses and Bacteria

February 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

T4 Bacteriophage 2011. All photographs © Luke Jerram, shared with permission

Digital models of bacteria and viruses are essential for scientists communicating vital health information to the broader public. Paired with news articles and government guidelines, the depictions offer powerful visuals for otherwise invisible harms, and although accurate in shape and structure, many renderings often feature colors chosen at the artist’s discretion—this includes the now-infamous depiction of the red, spiked SARS-CoV-2, which was named a Beazley Design of the Year.

Back in 2004, artist Luke Jerram began questioning the impact of this creative license, asking whether people believed that microbes are inherently vibrant and how exactly viewers are supposed to tell which renderings feature accurate colors and which are alterations. This interest sparked his ongoing Glass Microbiology project, which creates models of viruses like Zika, smallpox, and HIV as clear sculptures.

 

E.coli

Created approximately 1 million times larger than the actual cells, Jerram’s works highlight the intricate and unique structures without obscuring a viewer’s impression based on color. He collaborates with virologists from the University of Bristol to ensure the form’s accuracy before being glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones, and Norman Veitch help mold the delicate shapes, starting with the coiled nucleic acid at the center and later the outer proteins. Together, they’ve created dozens of models so far, including the long, worm-like ebola and a T4 bacteriophage with a rectangular head and multiple legs.

“Of course, by making it in glass, you create something that’s incredibly beautiful. There’s a tension there, between the beauty of the object and what it represents,” the U.K.-based artist said in an interview. “By making the invisible visible, we’re able to feel like we have a better sense of control over it.”

Jerram’s microbes are on view in two exhibitions this month: as part of Hope from Chaos: Pandemic Reflections at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore and at Henry Moore Institute’s A State of Matter. Explore the vast collection and dive into the science behind the works on the Glass Microbiology site.

 

Ebola

Zika Virus

Malaria 2015

SARS Corona

Smallpox, Untitled Future Mutation, HIV

 

 



Craft History

Archeologists Unearth a Roman Glass Bowl Dating Back 2,000 Years in Pristine Condition

January 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy Marieke Mom, shared with permission

Sitting a few miles from the German border, Nijmegen is the oldest city in The Netherlands, and after a recent archeological dig, it’s also the site that unearthed a stunningly preserved bowl made of blue glass. The pristine finding, which is estimated to be about 2,000 years old, is from the agricultural Bataven settlement that once populated the region. Featuring diagonal ridges, the translucent vessel was made by pouring molten glass into a mold, sculpting the stripes while the material was liquid, and using metal oxide to produce the vibrant blue. Archeologists uncovered it without a single chip or crack.

Around the time the bowl was procured, Nijmegen was an early Roman military camp and later, the first to be named a municipium, or Roman city. Archeologist Pepjin van de Geer, who led the excavation, told the De Stentor that while it’s possible the vessel was created in a German glass workshop in cities like Cologne or Xanten, it’s also likely that the Batavians traded cattle hides to procure it. In addition to the piece, van de Geer’s team has also uncovered human bones, pitchers, cups, and other precious goods like jewelry, which indicates the site was once a burial ground. (via Hyperallergic)

 

The excavation site

 

 



Art

Dreamlike Sculptures by Christina Bothwell Meld Ceramic, Glass, and Oil Paint into Otherworldly Figures

January 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Two Violets.” All images © Christina Bothwell, shared with permission

From her Pennsylvania studio, Christina Bothwell (previously) sculpts surreal hybrid creatures and figures that occupy the unearthly space between dreams and wakefulness. She works with a combination of annealed glass, pit-fired ceramics, oil paint, and small mosaic tiles, which each correspond to a conceptual element. “I always come back to the idea that the physical part of us is just a small part of who we are in our entirety,” the artist tells Colossal. “The translucent parts of my pieces are meant to suggest the soul or that part of us that is more than just our bodies.  The ceramic portions of my pieces represent our grounded, tangible parts.”

In her most recent body of work, Bothwell continues her explorations into the liminal and states of flux: a slumbering child appears to float from its sleeping counterpart in “Lucid Dream,” while another lies upside down in “Mood Swing.” Many of the sculptures are tinged with themes of magic, imagination, and escapism, which are reflected in the ways that human bodies meld with birds, monkeys, octopuses, and deer. She explains:

I was a sensitive child with eccentric parents who didn’t fit in. I didn’t even fit in with my family a lot of the time. It was like I was a changeling or an alien they were forced to live with. I felt like an outsider for most of my life, and it always felt precarious, unsafe, being who I was. For this reason, I think I identify with deer… despite their beauty and grace, they are not protected or valued (at least not where I live), and their vulnerability and innocence resonates with something deep within me.

Bothwell’s fantastical works will be on view at Habatat Gallery and Muskegon Museum of Art as part of the upcoming Beyond the Glass Ceiling, Influential Women in Glass exhibition and again this summer at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on Instagram.

 

“Simian Dream”

“Lucid Dream”

“Snail”

“Little Deer”

“Mood Swing”

“Speak No Evil See No Evil Hear No Evil”

Left: “Here and Now.” Right: “Safe Haven”

“Dream State”

Top: “New Sunday.” Bottom left: “Tea with Cows.” Bottom right: “Tea Party”

 

 



Craft

Kaleidoscopic Patterns Coil Around Miniature Snakes Exquisitely Cast in Glass

January 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Ryan Eicher

Intricate linework and trippy, geometric motifs flow through the minuscule glass-blown serpents by Ryan Eicher. The Maryland-based artist casts smooth, colorful gradients, rainbow stripes, thin parallel bands, and intersecting helices within the snakes’ coiled bodies, a challenge considering the structure of the patterns shifts as he shapes the forms. Each miniature creature stretches only a few millimeters wide, and many of Eicher’s most recent pieces feature a mishmash of lines and shapes created with artists like Future Glass and Emerson, among others. You can find details about those collaborative pieces on Instagram, and head to Etsy to add one of the tiny snakes to your collection.

 

 

 



Art

Imaginative Glass Specimens Are Suspended in Jars in Steffen Dam's Cabinets of Curiosities

January 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Heller Gallery

Held in tall, transparent jars are recreations of tiny jellyfish with wispy tentacles, plankton, and other delicate sea creatures by Danish artist Steffen Dam (previously). He sculpts the miniature organisms in glass and displays the exquisite creations in wooden boxes or medicine cases that evoke the 16th Century wunderkammers or cabinets of curiosities. Generally in the possession of aristocrats and monarchs, these encyclopedic collections predated museums and held objects that were valuable for scientific study and their ability to inspire wonder and awe. Although Dam’s sculptures reference the colors, textures, and shapes of real-life specimens, his imaginative works are inventive interpretations of evolution and biology.

Find more of the artist’s recent works on his site and at Heller Gallery in New York, where he’s represented.

 

“Wunderkammer” (2021), 
glass and illuminated wooden presentation box, 
35 3/8 x 27 1/2 x 7 inches

Detail of “Wunderkammer” (2021), 
glass and illuminated wooden presentation box, 
35 3/8 x 27 1/2 x 7 inches

“Pangaean Zoology” (2018), 20 elements in glass, 72 inches

“Marine Group” (2020), glass and illuminated presentation box, 13 3/4 x 39 x 7 7/8 inches

“Specimen Block” (2017), 
glass, 
11 3/8 x 11 3/8 x 1 1/2 inches

“New Medicine” (2017), 
glass and illuminated wooden presentation box
, 30 1/4 x 17 1/4 x 9 inches

“Marine Specimen Collection” (2018), 
glass, 
tallest 8 3/4 inches

Detail of “Specimen Cabinet” (2017), glass and illuminated wooden presentation box, 
39 1/4 x 24 3/8 x 9 3/8 inches

Detail of “The Journey to M31” (2021)

 

 

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