When you have the opportunity to see a piece of glass art by Seattle
artist Suzanne Guttman it is not difficult to recognize the passion in
her work. Flowing glass shapes and colors are inspired by the
environment surrounding her, evoking what she calls a “balance of grace
and strength” that momentarily persuades the viewer into reasoning that
the pieces grew right there out of the Earth. Unless you watch the
delicate and meticulously choreographed dance that is required of glass
blowing, you may not realize the interesting steps included in the
creation of a piece of her blown glass lighting or other glass art.
Although each individual in our community of talented glass artists
has his or her own unique technique and style, the fundamental steps for
creating a piece of blown glass lighting are relatively consistent.
Suzanne was kind enough to walk us through the high level process of
creating one of her modern blown glass pendant lights.
Firstly, the necessities of a glass artist’s workshop
include must tools and equipment such as: raw glass, a furnace (at
2200° F) a glory hole (at 1200° F), yokes, a blow pipe and punties, a
marver plate, wood blocks and paddles, an annealing kiln (at 900° F), a
small torch, shears, jacks, pliers, tongs, and molds. Creating beautiful
and long-lasting glass art is a commitment to having the right tools,
and understanding and respecting glass itself. Without the proper
techniques, an amateur is likely to create unstable pieces that cannot
withstand the tests of time, movement, or thermal fluctuation.
begins to create a pendant light by gathering clear glass to make a
“starter” bubble. From this point on, she and her team synchronize their
every movement and execute each pre-meditated step in a timely sequence
in order to achieve an agreed-upon design. The dance begins!
A colored glass is applied over the clear bubble as an overlay or
with glass frit. Suzanne typically combines an overlay of Alabaster
white for the inside of the pendant and a color of choice on top. A
white interior on a pendant helps diffuse the light of a bulb inside,
and also allows the color on top to stand out more vividly.
After the color is applied, the mound of glass is stuffed into an
optic mold. There are several types of optic molds whose purpose is to
create visual interest in the glass by manipulating its thickness in
various ways. The optic mold creates thick and thin evenly dispersed
channels of color, which creates the lines or swirls you see on the
resulting pendants. The artist can then twist and marver the hot glass
to create the desired evenness and pattern.
Next, Suzanne gathers more molten glass onto the piece to shape and
blow it to form the bottom portion of the pendant. The piece is blown
into a wood mold to achieve the exact desired shape, such as a the
signature Bordeaux pendant shape. This piece is then placed carefully
into the annealer for roughly 24 hours. Annealing “cures” the glass so
that it is stable and not as vulnerable to failure.
After a piece is done annealing, it is finished and cut to size with a flame-cutter and then drilled for wiring.
pushes every emotion for me,” says Suzanne. “It is a mental and
physical challenge that connects my soul to creativity. The process of
creating is a magical, spiritual journey. I am always awed and never
bored, I love this art form.”