On Slumping: Brian Western of Western Art Glass

Redefine

Our new column Redefine asks artists to define one term involved in their process. Through this definition, we as buyers will learn a little bit more about the art from conception to realization. We'd like to not only increase awareness of what we are actually purchasing, but also increase appreciation for the process itself, thereby celebrating the handmade lifestyle. Today, Brian Western redefines slumping. Read how Brian turned a traditional technique into one that defines resourcefulness:

Who: Designer Brian Western of Western Art Glass
Redefine: "Slumping"

In the conventional world of glass manipulation is “slumping“…bending glass into or over a mold taking the glass through various heating and cooling phases up to 1200 to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brian not only shares his process below, but he shares his enthusiasm and passion for his art as well. While clicking to purchase a handmade product online is quick and easy, buyers often miss out on quality interactions between themselves and the artist. Brian has given us a bit of that interaction below. His personality shines as bright as one of his pieces.

In my unconventional neighborhood of discarded and forlorn beer and wine bottles, heralds poor-man’s slumping--using the curve of the reclaimed bottle without the use of a kiln. I’ve always been fascinated with the curl of leaves and leaves dancing in the wind. Early on, I read Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien, an account of an artist trying to paint a landscape that his limitations wouldn’t allow. The leaves on the trees in the landscape is where he shined. Hmmm, I said to myself, Work within your limitations. My attempts at making leaves using flat glass were less than desired. I wondered how to achieve the curve without investing in a kiln and electric bills that I couldn’t afford. Sitting at The Muddy Pig, contemplating curved leaves in between slurps of Rochefort 8s and little appetizers, I nearly fell off my stool at the immediacy of the answer. Why not use the curve of the amber bottle for the leaf curl I desired? Why not indeed!
Here's the nuts and bolts of the proceedings for a Pilsner Urquell oak leaf: after drawing the shape and lines of the leaf and veins, you drink a Pilsner Urquell paired with a couple of left-over fried tacos from El Norteno. Prepare a jar of ice-cubed water and begin boiling some water while you traipse down to the basement to score the bottom of the bottle...open another and continue nibbling chips and salsa...immerse scored bottle in ice cold water...wait for boiling water…pour this into the bottle and listen for the crack of glass while shouting--"Wally (from Time Bandits)!" Back downstairs with your cylinder of beer bottle glass...score cylinder down the center and repeat on the opposite side...tap, tap, tap, tap...break…realizing two halves of cylindrical glass. Then you place your pattern on the outside of the curved bottle side, score, tap, break...and eventually copper foil the individual pieces and solder them back together! Voila!

Shown above the jump from left to right

1 Little Elm Leaves, $58.00 from Western Art Glass
2 Wanderlust Heart, $40.00 by Western Art Glass
3 The Singing Face, $50.53 from Metamorphosi
4 Jack's Hanging Light, $60.00 from Bottlehood

(Images: Western Art Glass)

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