Editors’ Spotlight: The Glass Guru, Inc, part 3

| 0

Bob Thompson

and His Fabulous Glass from Around the World

Bob is not only a member of our guild…..but spent most of his life working with incredible glass products from all over the world that were used in mostly architectural projects. He lives in Portland OR and has also been a longtime supporter of our guild plus done classes with and purchased glass art from many of our members. He is sharing some of his unique history with glass here. This last section will show his more recent innovative use of mostly non fusible glass using special UV glues. (Note from Greta: I had seen some clear holographic glass out in the garden area at OHSU years ago and always wondered about it, It was so pretty and unusual….and it turned out to be one of Bob’s holographic products! Mystery solved!)

Bob Thompson, our Glass Guru

The photos in this section show some of the many creative examples of Bob’s glasswork using UV glues rather than kiln work and also include examples of the glass sheets with colorful holographic patterns between layers.

Even though I considered Portland to have the ‘Mother Lode’ of decorative glass in the country, only about 5% of the business came from the local area, while the majority was distributed to projects in the major cities and design centers around the country, Canada and Hawaii. An office building in Chicago was clad in Asahi glass that looked like a light gray, mottled marble, a house in Hawaii that had a hexagonal glass floor over a stream, underneath a hexagonal glass table, underneath a hexagonal glass skylight where you could watch the lychee nuts fall from the trees overhead.

“We had to laminate some clear glass to Spectrum ‘Amber Streaky’ glass to use in the overhead, surrounding valences in the U.S. Embassy in Turkey and Dan Crow was nice enough to coat some Spectrum ‘Waterglass’ in cyan dichroic for a ‘knock-your-eyes-out’ NIKE display in one of their stores in California. I also had to edge glue two pieces of a wild, psychedelic Spectrum ‘Iridescent’ glass together in order to fit into a large, back-lit display window in the Nyssa Winery in Dundee. The wife, who selected the glass, had attended the Woodstock Music Festival.

In total, working with some of the largest and most creative architects and designers in the country has been a fascinating, challenging, exciting and satisfying experience. It allowed me to write the ‘Interior Glass’ section in the ‘Interiors Graphic Standards’, published by John Wiley and Sons, the ‘Bible’ for Interior Designers and architects throughout the country. It was also a privilege to pass on some of this knowledge and dazzle the students in Joanne Thomas’s Interior Design class at PSU. It was a chance to show them many examples of glass that they would never have known existed.

In between doing everyone else’s glass projects, some 2230 at last count, I had the pleasure of dabbling in the artistic branch of the amazing material with infinite creative possibilities… glass. I was fortunate enough to be able to take classes from Linda Ethier, Morgan Madison, Gil Reynolds, Michael Dupille, the wonderful frit artist in the Seattle area at Northwest Art Glass and many at Bullseye Glass.

For many years, Gil ran the annual Hot Glass Horizons, a four day get together glass extravaganza featuring exceptional classes from the leading masters of the craft from all over the country. It was one of the best, most educational gatherings for those interested in all the different facets of the glass spectrum and offered a smorgasbord of opportunities to try so many different techniques. Every class led to an adrenaline rush to try this new and exciting adventure in glass. It also encouraged me to buy a kiln, never used and finally sold, lots of Bullseye glass and frit given away, tools that remain a mystery and boxes of molds still in pristine, unused condition.

One of the most memorable Hot Glass Horizons was in 2005 when we went to Corning, NY to see the fabulous Corning Glass Museum and the Steuben Glass Studio. You can walk from one end of Main Street to the other in about 20 minutes, but it could take days to absorb all that is in the museum. I recommend this pilgrimage to any serious glass artist sometime in their lifetime. Another wonderful opportunity was a visit to Murano, Italy to see glass at the birthplace of extraordinary glass.

After many years of glorious explorations and class exercises of limited and questionable success, I realized that time was getting short and my chances of achieving even a speck of Ann Cavanaugh expertise were getting dimmer and further from reality. I had been using UV adhesives in some of the commercial projects and liked the way it allowed me to work in three dimensions ( a definite attraction for an architect), plus, I wasn’t constrained by the limitations of COE’s and vague compatibilities, unfathomable kiln schedules, mold preps and high-priced glass. I was free to use all my textured glass scraps, anybody’s frit, cut up wine bottles, treasures from the Thrift Shop, nuggets from Michael’s and virtually anything made of glass.

It allowed the combination of fused and glued items, millefiori, beads and, with the addition of other adhesives on the market, rocks, metal and anything my fertile brain thought might artistically come together. It allowed the flexibility to do things on the work bench or dining room table at all hours of the day and night and to tap into the vast collection of flotsam and other memorabilia resources accumulated over a lifetime.

I embrace the ‘recycle and collage’ approach that allows the use of all those things we latch on to that we think would be ‘just perfect’ for that special project that resides somewhere in the dim, distant future. Over the years, I have saved up files and files of design ideas and sketches that pop into my head, periodically channeled from those creative spirits in the Universe for my use in the next multiple lifetimes. It has been a fascinating and infinitely interesting journey. The exposure to the miracle of glass will transform your life. –Bob Thompson