Abby Leon, Paradigm Gallery Director
Who doesn’t love the brilliance of glass? It can add dazzle to any occasion, especially during the holidays! Don’t we need that now more than ever? This week, check out these blown glass ornaments by artist Matthew Paskiet. Not only can he create the perfect bulb, but also many other technically skilled designs featured in the Paradigm Gallery at FWMoA!
I’m a glass artist from Holland, Ohio. The fifth of six children, I enjoyed creating from an early age. I remember my dad tinkering in the basement; he showed me how to cut glass when I was about eight years old, and I’m sure it was so he could keep me busy while he was getting some real work done.
This early inspiration was reinforced by exposure to the old glass blowers shop at a local amusement park; I always wanted to know what was behind the glowing door.
Years later, I know what goes on behind that glowing door, and I am still inspired to create new work and further current series. I am continuing to utilize murrini in my work; however, I have begun to experiment with wall installations and non-traditional glass working methods.
To create a glass ornament, Matthew starts with picking out the desired frit (see first photo from left below) to complete his design. Frit is crushed glass used as a means of adding color to a piece. Once the frit is selected, it is spread out on a sheet of steel, otherwise known as a marver. Matthew then acquires a gather of clear glass on the end of a preheated blowpipe from a furnace of molten glass to roll onto the steel work surface and adhere to the colored frit. Finally, he reheats the glass in another furnace, called the glory hole, to allow the color to melt into the gather.
The next step is to shape the glass through crucial timing and memory. You could compare it to a choreographed dance! After the initial shaping on the marver, Matthew will blow into the pipe at his workbench in order to create an orb. A blow torch is also used throughout this process to apply spot heat, allowing the glass to remain at a certain, optimal temperature for working it. The gas from the torch can also make the colors strike (a glass term for when the colors change from reheating. Sometimes they can even go metallic!).
Matthew then uses jacks to form a neck in the bulb, after which he will use tweezers to chill the connection and separate the glass from the blowpipe to land onto a nest (a ceramic fiber wool bed used to insulate the glass until the hook is applied). He then acquires another gather of glass from the furnace to place on top the bulb to shape a hook.
Lastly, the ornament is placed in an annealer to cool over night. This kiln slowly cools the glass, preventing it from cracking due to thermal stress. Now, they are ready to showcase! Here is what they look like completed:
Glass Ornaments, $20 each.
Not only are they beautiful for the holidays, but these suncatchers can be admired year-round! To see Matthew Paskiet’s ornaments, or more of his other series, come visit the Paradigm Gallery: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm (Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).