I started my artistic journey focusing primarily on glass. Glass is an amazing medium – it interacts with light and color in so many unexpected ways, and forming it into shape is a process that is both challenging and rewarding. The learning curve for glassblowers is quite steep, but the dream of making a living with glass makes it a worthwhile pursuit.
If you had asked me what I wanted to make most out of glass when I started, I would have answered ‘marbles’. Even though I learned how to make glass vessels such as cups, bottles, and vases, I always gravitated back to marbles.
Another fascination of mine has been with orreries. An orrery (sometimes called a planetarium) is a clockwork model of our solar system, typically made in the 18th and 19th centuries to demonstrate the relative orbits of the planets around the sun.
When I searched for actual orreries, I could not find one that really encapsulated what I imagined. These devices are part science and part art. But I wanted to highlight the artistic side with my own aesthetic, so the task fell to me to make one myself. This was daunting task, and my first prototypes were rough, literally held together with tape and glue.
The clockworks are obviously a very important part of any orrery. The gears and other metal components serve a practical function, but are also a strong artistic element in my opinion. As a result, several metalworking machines such as mills and lathes are now part of my studio.
My workspace spans several areas: a machining, woodworking, and flameworking shops are all required for the various components, plus a work bench for assembly and testing.
Although a significant portion of each planetarium I make consists of metal and wood, I feel it is the glass that brings them alive. It pleases me immensely to be able to apply my glassblowing background to create these suns, planets, and moons. I like to focus on exoplanets – planets outside our solar system. This allows me to make planets any size, color, or configuration, enabling the viewer to draw their own conclusions about the worlds they see.
I call my creations Exoplanetariums.
Small Works 2022 includes 200 works of art by 200 artists from 32 states and runs through Friday, December 23, 2022.