Traditionally a material used for scientific work, there are now a number of flamework artists who work with borosilicate glass to make a wonderful array of pieces, both practical and decorative. There are also a few technical glassworkers who have blended their traditional scientific skills and training with a more artistic approach to make some amazing sculptural and blown work. Ian Pearson, who lives and works in the North of Scotland (http://www.glasscreationsthurso.co.uk/), would be one, and another would be Alois Hechl (www.hechlglas.com). Alois visited us last month, spending some time in my studio and getting to grips with the Lake District summer (cold, this year), hills (steep) and beer (Hawkshead Gold). His work is unique and to watch him in action a rare treat.
Coming from the South of Austria, apparently the reason for his natural charm and enjoyment of life, Alois has a studio and shop in the town of Villach, in the heart of Carinthia, from which he sells drinking vessels, water and wine carafes. He also creates installations based around large, blown glass ‘bubbles’, linking them to the landscape and using their surroundings as inspiration for the form of the final work.
Every flameworker has their own style and we are fairly far apart in our individual “handprint”. I love colour, and I love nature. Both creep into my work at every opportunity. Alois loves clear glass and to blow on a large (for a flameworker) scale, functioning at his happiest with a big flame and wide, thin glass tube. I would say that his charm and slightly off-the-wall humour creep into his work, mixed with a serious commitment to producing good glassware.
Look him up – and if you can, get hold of his drinking glasses or, if you can stretch to it, a carafe. They are special and unique and a pleasure to own and use. Which is really, whatever your handprint, what glass should be about.