Today we’re going to be looking at the work of Elliot Walker, glass-blower and sculptor. Discovering some of the mysteries of glass-blowing, and getting a sneak-preview of some of the pieces Elliot has been working on ahead of our Spring Edition show!
How did you first get into glass blowing?
‘I started glass blowing about 4 and a half years ago, but in the beginning I wanted to learn glass casting, it appealed more to my temperament as glass blowing is usually quite an extroverted and collaborative activity, whereas I enjoy working by myself.’
‘However, once you start blowing glass it’s very addictive, and I got hooked very quickly!
For those of us who might not know, is there a way you could simply explain how glass blowing works?
‘It’s actually very simple to explain the basics, but there are so many subtleties and directions that you can choose to take during the process that once the basics are dealt with it can begin to seem incredibly complex to beginners.’
‘Essentially, glass becomes a very viscous liquid like honey when it is over 800 degrees C, and it can then be inflated from the inside. As the surface has some tension, it stretches and then solidifies into a bubble. This can then be reheated and inflated more. You can blow glass so thin that it will blow away in a light breeze, much thinner than a soap bubble; this is really great to see!’
What is it about working in the medium of glass that you particularly enjoy?
‘I only really enjoy the finished piece. The process itself
is exciting and you get a real buzz from it, but it is also hot and
uncomfortable, not to mention risky and expensive. I often think that if I
could make my work sitting on a sofa or in a nice bright studio, or like a painter-
I would, without a doubt!’
How does working in glass differ from other sculptural forms
‘It’s so different, from any other medium in that at first it’s quite hard to learn. For example, if I hand you a lump of clay and ask you to sculpt a dog say, you could probably have a stab at it and produce something similar. But If I gave you a gather of glass and ask the same of you, the glass would be a smoking puddle on the floor within 2 minutes. I can’t make dogs even now!’
‘But once your over that, it’s a great medium as it’s almost alive and your emotional mood can affect the outcome as much as your technique. If I'm angry when I start, or calm, the glass seems to pick up on this and reflects that back at me.’
What is the difference between Glass Sculpture and Art Glass?
‘Art Glass is a loose term that I really don't care for. It is basically glass that has been made to promote and emphasise the beauty of the material rather than made for any functional use. This mostly applies to blown glass vessels that have been coloured in various complicated ways. The majority of British studio glass would be classed as Art Glass by some. As to Glass Sculpture, it’s sculpture made from glass, and those making it would consider themselves sculptors first, and glass blowers second I expect.’
You talk of your work as having a conceptual or emotional focus, where do you draw these focuses from, in terms of your own work (as opposed to a commissioned piece) what inspires your creative processes?
‘I think that there is a split in my inspirations that is developing slowly as I produce more work. The first is to do with how subtle deformations of the body and its posture can affect me emotionally, in a similar way to watching contemporary dance. I've never been much interested in detail, more in sweeping gestures. I'm also interested in how my emotions effect the sculpture I make, this is really not something that I focus on, but I always notice that my favourite pieces have been made when I am feeling a certain way.’
‘The other influence on my work is depictions of 'God' through the human form, this is currently developing in my work at a slow pace, but is always in the back of my mind and prominent in my research and drawings.’
Have you exhibited at Handmade in Britain before?
‘No, I don't exhibit at many shows, as I mainly sell through galleries. But I do enjoy talking to people about my work.’
Have you got any pieces that are being made especially for the event that we can hope to see?
‘Yes, I am making a winged figure for the show that will be a focal piece, as well as showcasing some of my favourite pieces I have made over the past year.’
‘Everything I will be exhibiting has been made in the past 8 months, and many are quite unusual pieces in the fact that they are one offs that have their own names.’
Are there any other exhibitors you are particularly looking forward to seeing at Spring Edition?
'I really like the current ceramics scene in Britain and so I'm sure there will be fantastic things for me to look at, if I can get someone to watch my stand for a bit!'
You can find out more about Elliots work at ewalkerglassart.co.ukand www.facebook.com/ewalkerglassart
All the featured designer-makers in our blog posts will be exhibiting at Handmade in Britain's up coming event at the Chelsea Old Town Hall. To find out more about the event, and book tickets head to: handmadeinbritain.co.uk
Handmade in Britain 14:
The Contemporary Crafts & Design Fair
Chelsea Old Town Hall, London
Spring Edition is open:
Tickets are available online now at £5
Tickets on the door are £7/£5 conc.
Tickets on the door are £7/£5 conc.