Elements of Glass

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Nature uses force to script matter, and we do the same to manipulate raw molten glass. We draw out of our methods of making glass, the elements that have distinct character, and the artistic imperfections that come from the hand, to realize designs, that are ‘real’ expressions. With the ‘Elements’ development, we saw an opportunity to focus on the connection between design and science, using the forms to represent the various states of matter. We interpreted these natural elements that surround us in New England, with seven one of a kind, sculptural pieces. Three of which are featured in the Montshire Science Museum, from September 2019 to March 2020. It is an opportunity for the public and for children to experience how glass is a transformation from sand to the transparent material we are all familiar with, but in new forms. 

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We believe that our craftsmen have captured a sense of wonder and beauty portraying natural elements in glass and by pushing glass to its aesthetic and technical limits. These shapes show a mastery of light through glass and brings us at Simon Pearce to the forefront of creativity and innovation, through a design collaboration with master glassblowers.

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Photo Credit: Montshire Museum of Science

The partnership with the Montshire Museum of Science started when Marcos Stafne and his team came to our facility in Windsor, Vermont, to discuss ideas around how the two upper valley organizations can cross-pollinate concepts and create something unique for people to experience.  They liked the Elements prototypes and were intrigued with the science behind glassmaking, and brought these two concepts together for an exhibit at the museum.  Sherlock and Katie, who create the exhibitions, evolved a wonderful way to interpret the glass Elements, revealing the process, and the science.

From the Montshire press release;

“For this collaborative exhibition, the Montshire partnered with Simon Pearce, a Vermont-based company specializing in handcrafted glass with a creative philosophy rooted in functional, sophisticated design. The Montshire Exhibits team worked closely with James Murray, Simon Pearce’s Vice President of Design, to create a beautiful experience in which science meets design.”

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Montshire Staff, shown here, from left to right: Katie Kalata Rusch, Matthew DiClemente, Anne Fayen, Loren Rutz, and Sherlock Terry.

All seven elements we prototyped are described below:

Fire

Fire

Fire is the element that transforms the other elements. Glassblowers also need fire to create the glass itself. They capture the gesture and movement of flames in glass. The item is sculpted with the energy and flair of a burning flame. Each piece turns out entirely unique and can be illuminated on a LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Dwight Yoder, Dave Osburn and Steve White.

Water

Water covers seventy-five percent of the earth’s surface. This design was specifically inspired by the rushing waterfall at the Mill. The glassblowers captured the expressive ebb and flow of water that changes throughout the seasons. It is a very difficult design to make and only a few Simon Pearce glassblowers are able to make it.  The development of this water vessel, and wrap technique led us to offer other lines using the wrap concept, such as the Waterbury and Echo Lake collections.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Mike Cushing, Mark Williams, Jason Tucker and Ray Thorburn.

You can find the separate blog post on this design here.

Wood

Wood is a pervasive element in New England, and is revered for the seasonal activity from chopping/limbing trees for firewood to handcrafting it into familiar objects. Here ‘wood’ is represented as a branch with truncated limbs, and a sandblasted hollow core. It is another difficult piece to craft, few glassblowers can capture the exact gesture and form. Wood is one of the five Chinese elements.  Each piece can stand on a LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Jesse McComas and Anthony Wroton.

Infinite Space

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Infinite space is the mother of the other elements. It represents the void, or emptiness that is necessary to approach a higher spiritual being. It is the gesture of a figure eight and is a free-form sculpture, with subtle surfaces and requires a high degree of skill to get the symmetry right. Each piece can be illuminated on an LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Jason Cole and Jeremy Bastille.

Earth

Earth element is about structure and foundation; in nature it represents all that is solid and nourishing, which also speaks to global environmental issues. The design intent is to represent the whole globe and the topography of total earth, and also the swirling dynamics of mixing of elements, which has been captured in the glass.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Mike Cushing, Mark Williams, Jason Tucker, Ray Thorburn, and Chris Rogstad.

Air

Air is a freeing and opportunistic element. The form represents the swirling forces of wind, similar to the aerial view of cloud formations of the weather, while also having an open center for a connection with infinite space. In glass, flat disks can be difficult to achieve when compared to shapes with more mass and volume, so this shows the control and skill the glassblower. This piece is displayed in a specially crafted metal stand made by Jan Mollmark.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Perry Schwab and Ryan Adams.

Metal

Metal represents both rigidity and flexibility; being a protective element it is strong but very adaptive to change. Metals are found in nature and in man-made structures, such as suspension bridges and other feats of engineering. The sculpture was created in clear glass with an infusion of silver leaf, to further highlight the connection to the metal element. It can be illuminated on a LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Jake Cole and Jeremy Bastille.

You can read more about the Montshire Museum exhibit in this Valley News Article.

The Waterbury Collection

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In design, we continue to be inspired by the natural surroundings here in Vermont. The immersion in Nature easily influences our perspective on developing objects, as the natural elements are filled with interesting forms, textures and colors.  When we consider a new glass line, we strive to capture the artistry that comes from the handmade formation of glass, and the impressions that Nature makes on us.  Fluid and malleable glass is almost unlimited in the possibilities of what can be achieved, and we impose our ideas and reflections on it.

While hiking the Waterbury Trail, we happened upon a small waterfall, and were stuck by how the element of water is always a delight for sense of sight, sound and touch. We also ventured to nearby Moss Glenn Falls for a more dramatic experience.  We  wanted to capture the essence of water flowing and the swirling textures that occur in a new glass.  We started R&D of the glasses based on sketches, but looked to the glassblowers to turn out each glass with a unique interpretation of the watery impression.  Each glass captures a moment in time, with an artistic gesture.

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The collection started with a tumbler, and then we scaled the same design up to a hurricane shape, which looks incredible with candlelight going through the swirling effects.

To compliment the tumbler, we created a carafe with a simple elegant form that lends itself to the layering process of gathers to create optic effects.

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Thinking about lighting, and the interaction with gathered glass effects, Simon created the Waterbury lamp in two sizes, to compliment the collection.  As the glassblowers work with these voluminous shapes, the layered effects of the double-gathered glass give a feeling of water movement that is visually stunning.  The lamps come to life when you see the light going through the glass, much like the dynamic impression from the streams and waterfalls of Vermont.

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