Spring 2021 Newsletter

Spring 2021 Newsletter


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In this Newsletter:

  • Good Riddance 2020!
  • Still Hot From the Kiln (New Work)
  • Artist Collaborations
  • New Series: Sentinel
  • California Modern Magazine feature
  • Murrine Institute of Technology
  • The Great Create Web TV Series
  • Making Tools for Zanfirico Cane
  • Media
    • Glass Magazine Dewdrops feature
    • Featured on Talking Out Your Glass Podcast
    • YouTube Videos

2020: In Like a Lamb, Out like a Germaphobe

Wow, that was a loooong year!  It began with a fun trip to Florida for demos and a show at Benzaiten Center for the Creative Arts, then it hit the proverbial fan. I had two solo shows + demos planned at later in the year at Kittrell/Riffkind Gallery in Dallas and Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte and of course both had to cancel. I really look forward to these trips, so I was bummed.

Beginning in mid-March, the studio where I blow glass shut down for 3.5 months--the longest break from glass in my twenty-year career.  While the world was turned upside down, there was still so much to be thankful for and health and family are two of them. Our family weathered the pandemic well and kids have been back in school for months and both parents are vaccinated. With 2021 headed in the right direction, the light at the end of the tunnel is very bright. I look forward to announcing many future shows and events.

Still Hot From the Kiln

A first look at brand new works headed to galleries next week:

Collaborations: James Devereux 

My most recent, and ongoing collaboration is with James Devereux, a UK-based glass artist.  After connecting through social media for years we finally met in person at the GAS conference in Murano in 2018 was jazzed when he mentioned he wanted to visit San Francisco and collaborate on a project. James and I made two of his Clovis sculptures out of my murrine patterns during his visit in late 2019. 

After James returned to the UK we decided to continue our collaboration via FedEx.  I created highly-patterned 'blanks' (like small bowls) and shipped them to James where he heated them back up in his studio, gathered clear glass over them and made two sculptures called Quillon.
Aside from being beautiful forms, a particularly interesting aspect of these is the hot chipped edge. James creates this texture by carefully hammering the edge of the sculpture while the glass is hot on the punty, chipping through the patterns to expose the interior and create the scalloped texture.  You can see a short video on my Instagram of James chipping the Clovis we made
 the Friday before the event. 

The two UK-made works were part of Vessel Gallery's presence at COLLECT; the International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design at Somerset House from 27 February - 1 March, 2020. Currently only this one is available, but we're planning on making additional sculptures together later this year.
New Series: Sentinel

I am loving these kaleidoscopic solid sculptures I'm calling "Sentinel".  These sculptures are the result two desires: to make solid work that would explore the optics of my patterns and to make use of past work that has failed (usually cracked) for some reason. 

Since glassblowing doesn't always work out perfectly, I had accumulated a great number of failed pieces over the last decade. I resisted tossing them since I love the patterns and put so much work into making them. I'd always seeked inspiration to find a new life for these works. This series uses one or two carefully chosen sections from one of these pieces that is encased in clear glass and twisted to provide some movement...and a new life.  

California Modern Article

California Modern magazine featured my work last issue.  With a focus on the degree of Italian style in my work, the profile in CA Modern is here

Murrine Institute of Technology
Early in the pandemic when the glass studio was closed, I had time on my hands and decided to pursue a project that had been on the back burner for years. 

From years of answering the question "How did you learn to make glass like this?" I explain the combination of years of experimentation, analysis, persistence and practice paired with very brief experiences with some top-notch glass artists.  But years of explaining what seemed disjointed and random, I realized I was describing a very informal, self-directed education with some demonstrations along the way.  After one demonstration to a collector group I joked with my assistant that I was the concurrent founder, dean, professor and perennial student of the "Murrine Institute of Technology". The fact that the initials were ironic didn't hurt, and MIT became the humorous shorthand for my educational journey in glass.

So with my extra time thanks to Covid-19, I had a designer create these logos and I had some fun t-shirts made up for my fictional alma mater MIT, which is now only a millimeter closer to full accreditation.

The Great Create Web TV Series
You may have heard of Netflix's Blown Away series where ten glassmakers compete in a reality-style competition. (If you haven't seen it, check it out.) The show is good fun and no, I'm not on it and don't want to be :) 

I did however, get talked into participating in The Great Create, a web TV series that will launch next month.  The Great Create pits two artists in competition to win over a single judge by making the most successful work inspired by the judge's own artwork.  I competed against a ceramic sculptor to make work that was inspired by one of the judge's paintings.  There should be some fun footage of my process as I blew a Foglio-series piece that echoed patterns and colors inspired by the judge's painting.  I'll share a link to the show on my blog, Instagram and Facebook as soon as I have it, and include it in the next newsletter.

Making Tools - Cane Twistertwo different types of zanfirico cane

The term "cane" describes all manner of glass rods. These rods can be used to create simple stripes in glass ('filigree cane') or they can be arranged in patterns, encased in clear glass and twisted while molten to create a range of intricate patterned rods ('zanfirico cane') that can resemble a woven net, barber pole or even helix-like DNA.  You can find these cane stripes and patterns in my work; sometimes comprising entire pieces and other times just as design elements.

In order to make simple stripes, a rod of 1000F degree colored glass is encased in clear glass, then the mass is heated until it's uniformly molten.  Then it's connected to a punty rod held by an assistant and stretched over 30-60 feet.  (You can see how this is done on my website)  The most intricate zanfirico cane involves fusing pieces of cane together for the center (rather than a rod of color) then once encased and attached to a punty, both people stretch the glass while simultaneously twisting the rods as fast as they can. For years this has been done by hand and it's tricky and exhausting.  Done too hot, the molten glass can turn into spaghetti on the floor; done too cold, it's a lumpy mess that doesn't pull or twist evenly or at all.  Did I mention it's tricky? 

As I'm not one to be bound by tradition or established ways of doing things, years ago I decided a drill would twist molten glass much faster and easier than anyone could by hand.  So I built a tool that would allow the molten glass to be securely connected to a drill, with a handle to help me control the glass and a heat shield to protect my hand from the radiant heat. While I used this tool for years I'd always wanted to re-engineer it with the best materials possible.  The pandemic offered me the time to reimagine this tool and I've since offered them for sale to other glassmakers.  It's been good fun to get them out in the world and see what people make with them.  I created a short video demo of how it's used.  If you're a glassblower or tool nerd, there's more information about these tools on my website.


Other Media
I'm frequently asked about previous articles and videos so here are some good links and downloads:

Follow Me On Instagram

While I'm blowing glass, I frequently post to my Instagram feed. So if you want a window into how my work is made, you can follow me on Instagram.

Questions?  Contact me at 650-740-9794 or email david@davidpatchen.com

For more frequent glassiness, follow me on
© 2016 David Patchen Handblown Glass, All rights reserved.

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