glass blowing

Art and Design, glassblowing

New Year (Glass) Wishes


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Over the last few years I have been taking photographs of my glass and finding that the more I zoom into the work, the more interesting the landscapes are that I get.  This is a process that believe it or not does not involve any post-production manipulation like filters or special effects. Everything that you see is as the camera saw it.  The difference for me with many of my pictures is HOW I choose to shoot the work.  Again, this is using direct sunlight, no special effects of any kind.  The key has been how I shoot the work, the lenses I use, the light I have and the object that I am photographing.  In my case, I have determined that some work photographs better than others in this way.

As we near a new year, I am reflecting a little on some of the pieces that came about this past year and I thought I would share some with you.  These are just a few of them.


 

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Some of my pictures look like surreal landscapes, maybe even from another world.  This is due to the fact that I am giving people a view into glass that most people do not see.  I am shooting glass objects at a high degree of magnification and under very high resolution.  As a result, I might turn a half-inch square into a 72 inch square.  Under these conditions, levels of detail emerge that the naked eye simply may never see.  In other cases, I am not photographing quit this tightly.  In this case, the glass will most often LOOK more like….glass.

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I like both ends of this spectrum and I have shot thousands of photographs now using my own blown glass as a subject.  You might wonder what I am trying to achieve.  Its a good question. In the beginning, I had no idea where the work was going.  I was photographing my work because a friend had sent me some photographs she took of some of my orbs up close. They were high resolution.  I blew one up and kept blowing it up until I realized that the lens she used continued to give good resolution of the glass surface.  This got me thinking and exploring.  I still am not sure where this type of work is going, except that I like it and I am going to continue doing it.  Something interesting happens when you allow yourself to not know where something is headed; it is suddenly free to go anywhere….even places you had never considered before.

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As I get older, technique does not dazzle me as much as it used to.  Its important, don’t get me wrong, its just that there is more to artistry than just technique. Sometimes our biggest problems lie in what we are unable to imagine….because we have limited ourselves creatively too much.  I see this all the time in school where people want to play it safe and get a good grade. The real fun is out on a limb, never sure when you might plop down on the ground.  Its there, on that limb, that the good fruit is nearly always plucked.

So often I find I am limited by my own biases of what I think I should be doing or that I am capable of doing that I literally squeeze out vast tracks of possibilities in my creative life.  As artists, we have to do this in order to create work that is coherent and focused, but this is a sword with two sides.  I use this work to keep me with something new and different running in the background.  And really, does it need to be anything?  After all, what are most of the “beautiful” materials in the world but a deep visceral reaction to things that are shiny, brilliant and brightly colored? When we say “eye candy” this is what we mean.

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Often “eye candy” gets smeared with a sense of vacuity though, as though this feeds the eye but not the soul. I am not entirely sure that this is so. In fact, I think that our need for great color and brilliance is so total that we could probably look at these kinds of things and be fed at a deep level.  In fact, this is just what we do when we look at a cut diamond, or a shiny metal surface.  What I am saying is that we ought not feel bad for loving the simple pleasure of a brilliant color.  After all, art emulates nature, and what we see in my glass is what we also see in nature, and it is that very nature that has informed our likes and dislikes.

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I find that when I am creating this work, I am an explorer.  I am seeking to see how far into the glass I can go to see what there is to see, to even go beyond the eye and its capacity to see the ordinary in order to pluck something from it that is extraordinary.  These are interesting pieces in their own right, and as they continue to emerge in an ever-interesting array of new forms and landscapes, I remain engaged in seeing where it will take me. Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone!  Here’s hoping that 2016 is a great year!Thanks for all your support!

 

glassblowing

For A Snowy Day


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For the last month I have been busily making ornaments (done!) and small Gaia lamps (done!), and am now doing the grinding and drilling of the vases to light them.  I have begun making the large pieces now, and have two of eight made, at a studio in Northern Virginia.  Over the last week I have had two people claim their perks from the campaign.  One was a family who had a series of pieces made; two paperweights, a small drinking glass for a delightful little lady, a  small gold ruby ruffled vase, and a large pink and purple Nautilus bowl. Its been a lot of shuttling back and forth in cold weather, but worth it.

Once the pieces have been drilled and lit, all items will next be packed and shipped.  The weather has been glitchy the last couple of weeks, resulting in the family that came recently to reschedule due to a power outage.

©Parker Stafford
©Parker Stafford

Today, with snow coming down, I hope to get out to the studio to get more large vases assembled before the weather gets so bad that we have another power outage.  Fingers crossed!  Unfortunately, in the area where the studio is located, power outages are far too common.

So before I head out I am including these pieces that were made a number of years ago as examples of pieces that can be made once the studio here is operational.  These pics are all from the same piece, which goes to show just how much variety that can be packed into a piece such as this.  I hope it helps brighten your day, especially if you hail from our neck of the woods, which is facing as much as a foot of snow in the next 24 hours.  Enjoy!  Stay warm!

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Art and Design, glassblowing

Crowdfunding Campaign Update!


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Mug_FInal_On_BlackI began my crowd funding effort on Indiegogo.com a few weeks ago, and the clock is ticking away, and I thought I’d take a moment and update you on this holiday-straddling fund raising effort.  While it seeks to launch a new product, the reach of this effort goes beyond just the launch.  It opens a studio that has had more new designs coming out of it than ever before, and has been limited by the ups and downs of the economics of this past year. There was a furnace door that literally fell apart in January of this past year that forced the closure of the studio, and then the loss of some courses I normally teach each semester at the local University set me back financially such that I never fully recovered enough to fund the re-opening of the studio at the busiest time of the year.  Lots of people have been asking when will they be able to come blow glass again?  “It was so fun!  We can’t wait to bring more of our friends when you reopen!”  has been the refrain from many people.  But what to do? If I could not do it, could my fans and friends help?  Could the power of the crowd, the village, the grass roots do it? Could there be enough people out there who think this is a cool enough thing that they’d be moved to get behind it…even if it meant only sharing it on Facebook?

The result was to reach out and make this a community effort.  Opening the studio will also mean that locals will get to come and learn about glassblowing by blowing glass themselves. I have had many poeple ask about this yearly tradition.  I have been putting them off and also suggesting they support the campaign so that their donation might do double-duty; helping open the studio AND allowing them to take their donation and apply it to a mini class or workshop.  For those who do not want to blow glass themselves, just having the furnaces running means you can watch as objects of beauty take shape before your eyes.

My campaign, which is on Indiegogo.com has a number of analytics that lets me see where my donations are coming from.  I have had just under $400.00 worth of donations come from this blog platform.  Facebook has thus far been heads and shoulders above the rest with about 1K in donations coming from my business page and personal page.  My own contribution to gathering donations seems to have gotten first place.  These are sources that came to Indiegogo by way of an email from my friends or family.  I have had about a thousand visits of the campaign since it began.  I get to see where page views are coming from, and the most is from the U.S., but Ireland and Great Britain is in line, with France, Italy, and then a long tumble of other views from all over the world.  A handful have been from Russia.  It has been interesting and educational.  People are looking for the next big things to fund, obviously.

Currently I am at 60% funding.  I have 40% yet to go.  the campaign ends on the 7th of January and honestly, the campaign has surprised me every step of the way.  I have been bewildered, mystified, frustrated, and elated, all at different times.

Frustration has come in the form of people not understanding how it is that I am not wanting their money bu their willingness to show that they think the campaign is worthwhile.  Really.  With 30 people all thinking this is worthwhile, they are all sharing the news and helping to build a network of interested people.  Do the math; 30 people with an average of 350-450 people on their facebook friend list all seeing news of the campaign = 10,500-13,500 people .  You can see how quickly the numbers add up.  And the donations come in.  With numbers like these, you don’t need BIG donations, you just need smaller ones when the reach gets this big.  I have been nudging and asking and cajoling people who want to do a story on this work, but so far, there have been no takers.  But as my advice was given, I am not taking anything personally.  I am on to the next opportunity to find what will work.  And its working. This is truly a community effort, although the community has emerged as being all across the world, all over our nation and into Canada.  I have been sending out press releases, I have been on the local news (links to the story below).  It has been very educational.  If nothing else, I have expanded my reach, done a lot of networking, and done a kind of marketing I have never done before.

There is more to go.  Will you share news of this on your social media?  Check out my Facebook.  I have shared a few pictures of glass that has been made by members in my local community.  Its been fun.  I do a lot of outreach.  I offer classes at an affordable level that are fun and educational.  I have had every size kid there is from the youngest being 5 years old to the oldest being 91.

So here is the campaign link to see the perks you can still order from the campaign!  Check me out on Facebook, too!

The story on WSLS

Facebook!

Campaign on Indiegogo!

Thanks to everyone who has made the campaign what it is so far.  I could not have done it without you!  <3

Art and Design, glassblowing

My Indiegogo Campaign Link (Draft Mode!)


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Mug3 Version 2#1
Proposed Design For Coffee Mug Design Perk on Indiegogo. ©Parker Stafford

The campaign for the Gaia Lamp is swiftly getting underway with a link to the campaign on indiegogo.  Right now it is in draft mode, which means that I am making adjustments and changes can be made.  If you have suggestions from perks to ways to tighten up the copy, I am all ears (and eyes)! This new design is really great, bringing  to your homes or someone whom you love, a warmth and creative flair!  Its art glass AND lighting all in one!  Everyone who has gotten to see them have all remarked how it transforms a room. Wonderful anywhere mood lighting is needed.  Bedrooms, foyers, living rooms, the possibilities are endless.  While there is one sample that shows the work, I have a number of different sizes from approximately 7″ tall (mini night-light version) to the full-sized version on the campaign site (approximately 12″ tall) as well as a globe in the works.  ALL of these design have been made before, just not as a light feature, so there is no question about HOW to make them.  This campaign is full steam ahead!  So….share this with your friends because the more coverage I can get, the greater the possibility that I can reach my goal!

http://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/22b29132

Want to contact me to find out how you can become involved in this exciting effort?  It can be as simple as sharing this post and the links with your friends and fellow bloggers. It can also be more involved, such as reviewing copy, and giving design advice about the campaign.  There are perks available for this type of involvement!

Proposed Mug Design For Indiegogo perk. ©Parker Stafford
Proposed Mug Design For Indiegogo perk. ©Parker Stafford