Midnight Lustre Vase
This midnight lustre vase is from Adam Aaronson’s “Lustre” series of unique handblown glass vessels. It has wonderful black, gold and brown tones.
Adam’s “Lustre” body of work is related to his “Imaginary Landscape” collection of works. However, the pieces and effects in the“Lustre” series are much more abstract. Adam draws from a variety of sources for its inspiration. These include the impressionist paintings of Turner, Whistler and Monet. But he is also very much influenced by the subtle reflections of light in water.
Adam calls the making process that he has developed over the years, the “late colouring” technique. Interestingly, this method has parallels in enamelling, ceramic glazing, printing and painting.
“Everything happens with the glass on the iron between 500º and 1100º. As my palette consists of powdered glass colours, firstly I lay these out on a steel table. Secondly, I cover the full-size hot glass vessel in silver leaf and roll it over the powders, picking up several layers of colour”. The next stage is for Adam to reheat the piece. This process involves melting the colours onto the surface. Sometimes he applies more colours directly onto the vessel, again reheating at each stage to build up tone and texture.
“When the colours are red hot they become indistinguishable. Therefore I have to remember which colour is where and how intense it is. I suppose it is a bit like a composer writing music, knowing how chords will sound together.”
When making works in §the Lustre series Adam generally only uses one or two colours as lustres. This is because the metallic compounds withing the lustre colours don’t mix very well at high temperatures.
But the most exciting part of the process is at the last stage. To achieve the shiny lustrous effect on the surface, Adam changes the atmosphere in the re-heating furnace, known as the “glory-hole” from an oxidising atmosphere to a reducing atmosphere, by turning down the fan that powers the burner. Suddenly dramatic flames then shoot out of the glory-hole and Adam gingerly and momentarily introduces the vessel into the flames. At this final stage the piece is still on the end of the finishing iron, known as the punty iron.
“This is the real alchemy of glass. Too little time in the flame and nothing happens, too long and you end up with muddy colours. I can only achieve the miraculous, reflective, shiny effect by staying in the flame for exactly the right amount of time . That’s the beauty of lustres”
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