Featured Objects from Magic of the Lamp

Featured exhibition objects from The Magic of the Lamp: %%Flameworked%% Glass from the Permanent Collection.

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    Bandhu Scott Dunham has been working with borosilicate glass since 1975, when he began to teach himself flameworking techniques while he was still in high school.

    As an undergraduate at Princeton University, he received informal training from the university's glassblower. Like many of the artists in this exhibition, he pursued his studies in glassworking at schools such as Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State, Penland School of the Crafts in North Carolina, and UrbanGlass in New York City. In recent years, Dunham’s work has shifted from vessel-making to abstract sculptural forms.

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    Vìra Lišková studied with the well-known professors Jaroslav Holeèek, Josef Kaplický, and Karel Štipl at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. From 1949 to 1961, she designed table wares for the Moser Glassworks in Karlovy Vary. In the early 1960s, she began to make flameworked utilitarian pieces in borosilicate glass. Her work evolved into abstract and figural sculptures. Lišková was the first flameworker to use borosilicate glass for large-scale sculpture.
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    The chess pieces are made in the form of Jewish and Roman Catholic religious figures. A Jewish rabbi and a Roman Catholic bishop (kings) join a group of holy men and women holding Judeo-Christian symbols of faith, including crosses, Torahs, menorahs, and single candles. Each chess piece has the appropriate costume, hairstyle, and accessory of its rank.
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    Cesare Toffolo, who was born in Venice, is a member of a family of well-known master glassmakers from Murano. At the age of 14, he began to work in his father’s studio, where he learned the fundamentals of flameworking. Toffolo is one of the founders of Centro Studio Vetro, a nonprofit cultural association that began in 1997 on Murano. It promotes glass art in Italy and abroad through its magazine, Vetro, and through its organization of summer glassmaking courses in Venice.
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    In the 18th century, Nevers supplied raw materials to other lampworking centers in France, including Orléans, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris, and Saumur. Their artisans competed with those working in Italy, Germany, Spain, and England. Since few objects from Nevers are documented, it is difficult to attribute figurines and entire tableaux with certainty. Larger figurines are typically built up of glass with internal wire armatures, which give them strength and allow them to be easily mounted in groups.
  • Artwork
    Cesare Toffolo, who was born in Venice, is a member of a family of well-known master glassmakers from Murano. At the age of 14, he began to work in his father’s studio, where he learned the fundamentals of flameworking. Toffolo is one of the founders of Centro Studio Vetro, a nonprofit cultural association that began in 1997 on Murano. It promotes glass art in Italy and abroad through its magazine, Vetro, and through its organization of summer glassmaking courses in Venice
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    From about 1865 to the 1880s, Carl Heinrich Florenz Müller (1845–1912) made lampworked glass vessels in historical styles in Germany. He excelled in copying antique glasses in Venetian style, which were soon sold by unscrupulous German and Dutch dealers as antique originals. Later works, such as the tall flute glasses, were freer interpretations of Venetian prototypes. Müller finally turned to the making of electrical equipment, a new technology, and he produced some of the first X-ray tubes.
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    This bottle’s design is based on Florentine liquid-in-glass thermometers, which make use of a physical principle first observed by Galileo. As the temperature of the water changes, its density also changes, forcing the glass floaters to descend or ascend. All of the lampworked figurines are associated with the symbolism of the Passion of Christ.

    The bottle was probably made by the master glassblower Alexandre Soudart (about 1850–1914) of the Verreries Réunies de Sars-Poteries. He bought the bottles at the glass factory and created their whimsical contents at his home after-hours. During Pentecost, he sold the bottles to pilgrims visiting the shrine to the famous "Black Madonna of Liesse."

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    Ginny Ruffner, who was trained as a painter, is an influential artist and teacher internationally recognized for her flameworked sculptures in glass. While small-scale flameworking was traditionally executed with soft, soda-lime glasses, Ruffner adapted her knowledge of harder, borosilicate glasses, used in scientific glassmaking, to art. Her upbeat sculptures, which refer to personal experiences, memories, and ideas, are sandblasted and covered in paints and pencils.
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    This theater depicts the Wedding at Cana, with figurines in Venetian and Turkish costumes seated in the loggia of a Rococo palace. Their heads and limbs are lampworked in glass, and they can be moved by levers and pulls on the outside wall of the theater.

    In the story of the Wedding at Cana, told in John 2:1–12, the host runs out of wine, which signals a premature and potentially embarrassing end to the celebration. At the urging of his mother, Mary, Jesus saves the day by turning the water in six large jugs, intended for the Jewish custom of purification, into good wine.

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    Born in Dresden, Karl Koepping studied chemistry before enrolling at the Munich Academy of Arts. Around 1895, he began his experiments with glass, turning blown glass tubes into small stemmed cups. Because he was unable to make larger forms, many of his Art Nouveau–style floriform goblets were fashioned by the master German glassblower Friedrich Zitzmann (1840–1906).
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    Born and raised in England, John Burton was a self-taught flameworker who pioneered studio flameworking in the United States. He was an influential teacher and author, and he was the first studio flameworker to develop a university program. This program, "The Art of Glass Design," was offered at Pepperdine College in Los Angeles from 1968 to 1973.
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    Susan Plum spent her childhood in Mexico, and she has lived and worked most of her adult life in the United States. For her, glass is a metaphor for light and a way to "concretize the invisible." She uses Pyrex® glass exclusively for its high silica content and its strength. Woven Heaven, Tangled Earth was inspired by her research into ancient Mesoamerican cosmological systems.

    Plum writes: "The woven work in glass that I have done over the last several years was originally inspired by the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the first weaver of the Americas. I later discovered that Mayan and other Mesoamerican traditions use the weaver’s loom as a metaphor for the universe. The loom of the universe is believed to be constructed of filaments of light from which the Heavens and Earth are said to be woven. These woven strands of light can become entangled around the Earth, and it is the job of Mayan shamans to untangle this ‘discord.’ Thus, the act of weaving, for the Maya, symbolically rebuilds and re-energizes the world."

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    Born into a family of flameworkers, Hubert Koch is one of many artisans who were trained in the town of Lauscha in Thuringia, a famous regional center for glassworking.
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    James Minson, a native of Australia, is part of a family of scientific glassblowers. He studied at the Sydney College of Art and at Tama University in Tokyo. Following a 12-month residency at the Niijima Glass Art Center, Minson moved his studio to Seattle, Washington. He is known for his colorful borosilicate glass necklaces, sculptures, and chandeliers that reflect his interests in music, deep-sea diving, and orchid collecting.