Rhode Island artist Tracy Glover shows us her new glass drawer- and doorknobs, tells us how she used them to warm up a modern dresser and talks about the importance of craft in the home.
Glover studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, and likes using Venetian techniques to make beautiful, functional objects in her studio, which was founded in 1992. Her table lamps have been featured in numerous magazines, and the difference between a room with a mass-manufactured table lamp and a room with one of Glover's is the difference between a passing trend and timeless style.
"If you've ever put your mouth on the rim of a hand-blown glass, you may have noticed the rounded edge as opposed to the sharper, flame-made edge of a factory-manufactured glass," she says. That one statement has made us look around our apartment and see the need for human connection in our living space. After all, it's our one handmade ceramic mug that makes us imagine an artist throwing pottery in Michigan, helps us visualize how the steam from our tea could fight off the edge of a cold Michigan winter. Our other mugs, well, they just remind us of vacation gift shops.
We enjoyed an question and answer session with Glover about her drawer-knobs and doorknobs &mdash released in May &mdash her inspiration, craft and her one collection.
Q: Where do the inspirations for your work come from?
The shapes of my lamps and the techniques I use are inspired by Italian and Scandinavian mid-century glass. But the colors and textures can come from anywhere. I am a rower and spend time out in the harbor of Narragansett bay. I row by a derelict and industrial section of town, but the colors of the storage tanks on the shore and the tankers on the piers are so beautiful even though they are streaked with rust. At sunrise, the colors really pop.
Right now, I am particularly inspired by the colors of this beautiful Russian submarine that is an actual relic from the cold war. It was moored along this stretch of the river but sunk during a freak storm. After a year under the water, the newly resurrected sub is now a wonderful combination of black, red and muddy brown. The color combination makes me think of Chinese lacquer boxes and Art Deco ocean liners.
Q: How you think hand-crafted items make a difference in a home?
There is a real difference between using something that is hand-crafted rather than factory-made. If you've ever put your mouth on the rim of a hand-blown glass, you may have noticed the rounded edge as opposed to the sharper, flame-made edge of factory-manufactured glass. It can be very sterile to only surround yourself with mass-produced goods. Having some handmade things scattered throughout your house makes it a warmer experience because it adds a human touch.
Q: What led you to think about designing glass knobs?
I always made hand-blown finials for my lamps and it seemed natural to start using those same finial shapes as drawer and cabinet door knobs. The idea of passage door knobs was an organic transition and I just started making them in the spring.
Q: How do you imagine these knobs being utilized &mdash on dressers of every style?
I bought a very modern and spare dresser for our bedroom but when I put it in the room it seemed too hard-edged for the space. I saved it by swapping out the steel knobs it came with for my clear, Primavera glass knobs. There was a nice contrast of hard and soft that completely transformed the dresser but still kept it modern-looking. I have also seen them used effectively on kitchen cabinets in many styles: from a stark, stainless steel kitchen to a warm Tuscan-style kitchen. The knobs can be modern or retro just by choosing a different color combination.
Q: What do you collect? (I know that glass artist Chihuly collects chairs, among many other things)
My husband and I like to collect art and will typically buy work that is meaningful to us in some way, such as the beautiful etchings of Richard Carleton, an artist who works in the next town over from us in Connecticut. We bought a couple of his pieces that were evocative of scenes I might row by, like one called "Cedar Hill Coal Skip." I appreciate how he can find the beauty in rusty industrial settings, like I do.
You can find Glover's table lamps, floor lamps, door knobs, as well as art, vases and note cards for sale on her Web site. We eagerly anticipate her next project: curtain hardware.
In D.C., she is available at:
A Mano, (202) 298-7200, 1677 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20007
Valerianne, (703) 242-1790, 111 Church St. N.W., Ste 201, Vienna, VA 22180
Urban Country, (410) 544-4142, 7117 Arlington Rd., Bethesda, MD 208142