Transcript for Glass Gift

Ethan Bond-Watts, artist and student

"People might come in and say "Holy cow, it looks like a school of fish." Others come in and they say it's like the universe. Others see cells or DNA, but really the piece is intended to embody relationships of complexity, interdependence, and chaos which really are patterns that we see at all scales and at all places in the universe."

"It would have been really easy to see this as a purely technical problem, get into the mind frame of a linear process of the technical steps to hang all these pieces of glass, and to lose sight of that aesthetic creation. And really that's part of it: balancing form and color is really where the sculpture finds it's life."

"Glassblowing is a really ancient art form, invented by the Egyptians, but we use a technique that most resembles the technique that the ancient Romans used. There is a ceramic crucible of molten glass; we take hollow steel blowpipes, and it's kind of like gathering honey on a honey ball. You dip the tip of the blowpipe into the glass; turn, turn, turn; and then scoop it."

"We are constantly turning to keep the glass on center, and I start blowing a bubble, then I start shaping the glass with my tools while my assistant, in this case my brother, keeps inflating the piece. We go for some color; we roll the hot bubble in powdered colored glass. The real magic of this piece happens after the final set of moves. So what happens is I have a partially inflated bubble, I get it ripping hot in the furnace, I come out and I'm kind of swinging it and dripping it. And just like that blob of honey wants to drip right to the ground, an inflated bubble will also elongate or become squatter depending on how gravity is affecting it. So I'm kind of teasing out this long bubble, then I grab my shears, and I grab onto the bottom of the bubble, and I start stretching it. I hand the blowpipe over to my brothe, who leaps onto the bench. So Tucker is blowing, I'm stretching, I'm giving him guidance: "Hang a little bit more, blow a little bit more, stop." It's this really fluid kind of jiggling into shape. You need to really move the way the glass moves, and as soon as you stop moving like that, as soon as you become rigid and mechanical, the glass will not do what you want it to do."

"So it was a good friend of mine, Craig Bunten, who helped me hang the pieces. It worked really great with Craig because we have a lot of trust, and we have great communication skills with each other, in part because we are rock climbing buddies. A lot of the same traits that make a great rock climbing partner also make a great assistant in hanging glass four stories up. So the heights, the trust, the non-verbal communication was really critical."

"What I had originally done was I planned out the overall form and color composition, then I assembled my building materials. So that was a long process of making the structural superstructure, blowing all the glass, and coming up with the whole hanging assembly. Then when we are actually hanging. It's like painting in space with glass. So we have the overall composition that we were shooting for, and it was a really painstaking process of moving pieces around, adding pieces, taking some away, to try to achieve the overall form and color composition that we'd planned, but also the gestalt, the experience of movement, and of flow, and of growth, which is really the essential property that I was trying to communicate."

Watch the video.