Glass Art: From Millefiori to Tiffany
Discover the oldest and the most versatile human-created material: Glass! From the simple and practical, to the abstract, colorful and amazing. Glass artists around the world are working to harness the potential of this dynamic and exciting art-making material. From New York to Italy and Ukraine, embark on a creative trip reading the stories of four passionate creators who tell us how their hearts melted for Glass!
Ekaterina – Founder of ET Handmade
How did you discover Millefiori?
The first time I’ve seen Millefiori glass pieces was the first time I visited Venice many years ago. I was charmed by its beauty, by its vibrant colors and so unmistakable neat patterns. It was impossible to get my eyes off of it because Murano glass has a kind of mystic magnet in it that catches you and all you want is to see its gloss and lights playing in depth between opacity and transparency. That day, I knew it would become my passion.
How do you improve your skills, learn techniques? Which technique are you perfecting at the moment?
Trying to create new things, realizing ideas, sharing it with other artists and finding inspiration in unexpected places. At this time, I’m experimenting with different Millefiori designs and trying to find combinations that will work together. This will become new unique colorful line very soon.
Have you visited some Murano artist studios? Do you have a favorite creator that you admire?
I often come to Murano to source the material for my work, there are different furnaces opened for demonstrations – it’s always a really magic experience to watch how traditional glass masters work. I love the work of the Ercole Moretti brand, I admire how they apply their artistry and contemporary vision to every possible dimension of the glass art.
Love at First Sight
Julia – Founder of Serious Aloe
How did you get into glass art?
I have a degree in economics, but was always attracted by creative professions. And I was much better at creating something with my hands than sitting the whole day in the office. One day I saw a photo of a glass shape on the Internet, and that was love at first sight! “What is it? What is it made of? I want to learn to make the same things!” were my first thoughts. So, the very next day, having secured support from my husband and my cat, I began learning the new trade 🙂 I quickly mastered it, but I wanted to have more in-depth knowledge of this technique. By the way, it is called “tiffany stained glass”. So, I went abroad to take a course from one of the best stained-glass artists. Even now, almost two years afterwards, I continue to work on self-improvement, and hope this path never ends.
Where do you get inspiration for new designs?
Today, my work is focused on Serious Aloe: production of wedding ring boxes. Ideas come up very often and spontaneously: when I see an oddly-shaped house, when strolling in a forest or even when watching a TV-show. Also, when I work on a new collection, I imagine myself as a bride and begin to fantasize what ring box would be ideal for my upcoming wedding. Sometimes, I feel like I got married at least a thousand times! 🙂
What materials do you use for your creations?
I use thin glass, tin solder, facets, brass and patina. I am extremely perfectionist, and can wait for a month or even more to get the patina I consider the best, which sometimes may come almost from the other side of the world. But nothing can win over looking at a shape and seeing perfection, that’s the best feeling.
Your glass work combines minimalism with geometric forms. What is your artistic approach?
Oh, that’s difficult, perhaps because I have no specific artistic approach 🙂 Ideas live in me all the time, making me even forget about eating, urging to be materialized. My house is literally strewn with drawings and pictures! And today, two years later, having worked with numerous materials, I realized that glass is my true love!
Who are your main customers and followers?
Future brides, mostly. But also, there are many of those who love geometric décor and houseplants. I like to work in different areas.
From Engineering to Jewelry
Virginie – Founder of Virginie Millefiori
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you happen to leave Paris and come to New York?
After living in Paris for almost 8 years, my husband and I wanted to experience living in a foreign country to broaden our horizons. In 2010, he found a post-doctoral fellowship in NYC so I quit my day job and decided for the first time to give myself a chance at being a full-time designer. I haven’t looked back since!
How did you discover and learn the art of Millefiori and what did you admire about it?
When I started making jewelry I had no formal artistic or artisanal background: I am an engineer for physics and chemistry. At first, I wanted to explore sculpting techniques with an easily available material so I looked for modelling clay but stumbled upon polymer clay at the arts and crafts store. I started watching tutorials for techniques using polymer clay and the Millefiori is the one that kept coming up because of its intricate designs possibilities so I got hooked!
Since then, you have shifted to metal jewelry. Why?
With my ever-growing collection of Millefiori pieces I started to participate in local crafts fairs in Paris. While people were admirative of the work I often got comments like their kid were using the same material at pre-school and it made me feel like a low-end artist! I decided to enroll into a silversmith class with Ecole Boulle in Paris and I had this wonderful teacher who shared her passion for the beautiful artisanal work and I was hooked all over again!
Chiemi – Founder of Studio Chiemi
What is the role of Nature in your work with glass?
I’ve always loved nature as far as I can remember. Spending time in nature and taking care of plants makes me feel peaceful, and seeing flowers delights my soul. I’ve always loved creating things as far as I can remember, as well.
So, whenever I think of creating something, I naturally end up creating something with a floral design. This happens when I’m cooking also. I sometimes think that my brain has floral designs on it. Hahaha… I’ve started working with glass during the 1990’s, and I took a glass fusing workshop in Alexandria, VA in 1999. I immediately fell in love with the technique and took the Greyhound bus home with a brand-new small kiln for glass fusing. Around that time, I saw a beautiful transparent glass paperweight with lots of beautiful tiny flowers encased in it. That was my first encounter with the Millefiori glass, and it was a love at first sight.
I wanted to work with Millefiori to create something that I had not seen before. I studied glass fusing further and Millefiori to start creating one-of-a-kind glass items with Millefiori.
Not only are you a Jeweler but also an Astrologer, are these two passions linked in any way?
There’s a common energy between making jewelry or any art object and practicing astrology which is a study of relative positions and movements of celestial objects and their meanings to human. Arthur Sackler said it best: “Art and science are two sides of the same coin. Art is a pursuit of passion with discipline, and science is a pursuit of discipline with passion.”
I also think doing both art and science make you better at both! It is crucial for a jewelry/glass artist to know the technical specifications; otherwise, you waste a ton of time, wondering why you’re not able to achieve the results that you want. It is also crucial for an astrologer or a scientist to be able to think out of box in order to figure out a potential solution to a problem. Aside from that, I think the reason why I do both is because I’m a very curious person who loves creating things, understanding things and solving problems. Doing both art and science is how I choose to express and manifest the energies of my soul.
You are hosting both Millefiori and Astrology 101 classes on Keenobby, what can participants expect from these experiences?
What my Millefiori pendant class and my Basic Astrology class have in common is me! Haha… You can expect to have a fun and relax in both classes. The Millefiori pendant class in particular is known to lower your blood pressure! Or that’s what some of the class participants have told me.
In the “Make Your Own Millefiori Pendants Class”, you get to learn about glass in general and Millefiori specifically. You get to see the tools I use and my glass work examples in person. You also get to see the glass fusing process via my slideshow. You get to pick a glass pendant to go home with out of my beautiful glass pendants. And finally, in the second part of class, you get to design and create two Millefiori glass pendants of your own!
In the “Basic Astrology class”, you get to learn how astrology exists in everyday living, how it can be used to benefit us and what an astrology chart looks like. In the second part of the class, you get to know the 12 Sun signs of the zodiac like never before! Some of the things that you’ve been wondering about yourself or others may be answered in the class.
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Written by Keenobby