Art Glass by Peter VanderLaan & Mary Beth Bliss
Peter VanderLaan and Mary Beth Bliss began collaborating on hot glass pieces in 1979. Their earliest work was a series of beautiful forms blown by Peter with Mary Beth's etched glass drawings melted into a brilliant matte lustre surface. A remarkable spectrum of design possibilities was explored both jointly and separately by both artists over the ensuing years: carved pieces, laminated pieces, beveled glass, etched glass, functional glass and sculptural glass. Yet no matter how far they journeyed into the labyrinth of possibilities offered by glass, they never forgot those early figured pieces.
In an updated process based on her earlier work, Bliss has taken dichroic sheet glass and produced complex graphics in it. Coupled up with sheet glass made by her husband, the patterns have yielded a some remarkable composite layering of imagery in Peter's blown forms.
For many years the couple has produced a series of blown forms, paperweights and jewelry utilizing Bliss's etched dichroic creations that totally challenges the limits of the current use for dichroic glass, while celebrating the forms wrought by VanderLaan's quarter century (plus) of immersion in glass. Today, while occasionally creating new works of art, they are enjoying semi-retirement from the everyday rigors of studio work.
Peter VanderLaan is known as one of the world's foremost authorities on glass formulas. He creates his own colors and has produced custom colors for other glass artists. VanderLaan also supplies many studios with his high quality crucibles.
|Statement by Peter VanderLaan:|
Peter VanderLaan has been hopelessly addicted to glass as a material for thirty-odd years. “I have rolled up crushed car windshields and melted them, stripped putty and aluminum siding from salvage glass and melted it, screened arroyo sand and melted it, and have derived sophisticated formulas using food grade lime in the middle of the pacific ocean and melted that. I have melted volcanic rock. I have thrown snowballs into my furnaces for hours. I have been disappointed and elated by glass all in the same minute. I am always drawn back to it. My current work challenges the perceptions of conventional beveled glass.
"Beveled glass is usually very symmetrical and rigid. It dazzles, but looks like costume jewelry. I want to break away from the symmetric and make the viewer wonder what part is glass and what part is not. I want a tension in the work that screams "fragile" when it in fact is very strong. I also want an illusion that makes the viewer wonder whether what they are looking at is really there. I especially love the reactions from other glassworkers. These pieces are fun and I really like having fun. In 1985, I took a job supervising thirteen fire departments for Santa Fe County. I blew glass in the evenings and on weekends. It was the first time in my life that I had been able to simply design in glass without worrying about selling the pieces. That was a tremendous freeing experience for me. I left the fire service in 1988 to return to glass full-time and I am happily continuing to make design my primary consideration.”
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June 16, 2017.
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