Steve Ackman

Stained Glass

Simple elegance... That's the goal for my three dimensional stained glass objects. Rather than adorning a creation with a multitude of filigree, decorative soldering, beads, bangles, and jewels, I prefer to select the glass to fit the mood of the piece. It's not that I never use any of those "decorations," it's just that I use them very sparingly. Glass is all about the transmission, reflection, refraction and diffusion of color and light. Complementary and contrasting colors and textures are what determine the character of a work. The interplay between glass and light creates contrast between sparkle and shadow, brilliantly saturated chroma and dark hues. Depending on the light, a particular piece of glass can be either a plain drab white, or an explosion of iridescence. It is the glass which dances with the light, and it is the dance which communicates emotion.

Kiln-formed Glassware

I've been fascinated with fire for as long as I can remember, and there's nothing more satisfying than throwing a sheet of glass in the kiln and bending it to your will. Glass sometimes doesn't cooperate, though. On the rare occasion, you can put the same make and color of glass with the same mold that you've used numerous times before, and that glass will fold, or fall, or stretch in ways you've not seen before. Part of the fascination with this kind of glass work is opening the kiln in the morning to see what the night-fire has wrought.

Making the mold is where most of the creation occurs, though. Before you can bend the glass to your will, you must define that will in the body of the clay. The creativity within clay is virtually boundless, while the compliance of the glass to that clay is quite limited. It is the introduction of the versatility of clay to the rigidity of glass under the electric fire of the kiln, and finding how far you can stretch the overlap between the two that creates and defines the challenge of this technique.

Glass Beads

Once again we have the interaction of fire and glass. Here, the manipulation of the glass is so much more direct and immediate; the flame of the torch so much more visceral than the electric elements of the kiln-fire. Here, you push and pull, stretch and compress, shaping the gooey mass to your liking. At these temperatures, there are no colors, save orange and yellow. Soften some blue rod, wind it onto the mandrel, then white, and black. The glob on the shaft resembles something from a B-horror movie. Shaping it, the colors flow and flatten together, unseen. As the mass slowly cools, swirls begin to appear, then areas of dark and light are discernable, and finally, when the colors begin to appear, you discover whether you have managed to envision the outcome... or, if you made the outcome match the vision ;)

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last updated 8 Apr 97

Steve Ackman, 1997 ©
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