本文作者为澳大利亚玻璃艺术家Gerry King，Gerry King于2016年受邀参加了第五届中国（博山）琉璃文化艺术节，并作为特约讲师为当地的陶琉从业者举办了中国玻璃（琉璃）艺术高端学术讲座，艺术节期间参观走访了诸多博山琉璃及玻璃企业，他对博山琉璃文化以及其中几家优秀的骨干企业留下了深刻印象，因此Gerry King在本文中使用大篇幅来表达他对博山玻璃、琉璃的真切感受。
INTO THE FIRE
AN ESSAY BY Dr. Gerry King
Spectators marvel at demonstrations of flameworked glass, entranced by the brilliance of the flame, the mesmerising constant revolution of the piece, the stretching, the molten glow of the glass essential
to fully join two pieces and occasionally, the maker using his/her mouth to blow directly into the glass to expand a bubble. Surely there must be for the flame worker as much an attraction to the flame as to the glass, a sense of defying nature, tantamount to being a magician or alchemist.
Flame working is variously known as lamp or bench working in accordance with progression in its technology. Continually furthered by Australian and New Zealand artists it is an advancing field, being worked in unison with other glass techniques and other materials. Their works, solid or hollow, vessel or figure, clear or coloured are testament to the high level of skill required to work between the parameters of too hot or too cold, too fast or too slow, too soon or too late. The skills are complex and hard won. The flameworker must continually compensate for gravity as the heat of the flame softens the glass. The intensity of the flame is varied, the glass moved to hotter or cooler areas as necessary and moved away from the flame when the desired level of softening is achieved. Like a circus performer juggling while on a tight rope the flameworker must simultaneously coordinate in several ways without assistance. He/she normally works alone, most commonly providing the continual rotation without a mechanical aid. As with all exceptionally skilled makers the act tends to look effortless, graceful and inevitable. The consummate skill is veiled by the ease with which it is applied.
Artist Cas Davey at work.
Stop the Trade by Alistair Mead.
Does this great skill lead to art? Look beyond the skill; look at the image, look at the unique meaning imbued into the object as the artist marries glass, that most magical material with the caress of the tantalizing but potentially ruinous flame. Though it might not seem so to the student, when making a glass artwork with a flame the easier part is mastering the skill. Expertise in flame working is earned with frequent and repetitious practice, and understanding of the material, the really tricky part is to ‘get the art into the glass’. This is not to deny the need for adroitness, persistence and the capacity to perceive minute differences in movement as the glass is subjected to the pull of gravity and the allure of the flame. Expertise in making art is won by learning to cultivate the serendipitous, to recognise the addition, subtraction or alteration which complements the aesthetic scenario before that scenario is fully conceived. An artwork cannot be fully understood by the artist before it is finished.
Think of art as a pregnancy. There are precise requirements but conception doesn’t depend upon training and skill. Art, like a child takes its own path to maturation, nurtured but not entirely predictable. Skill alone does not seduce an artwork from the canvas, from the block of stone, from the flame. The parent may predict some characteristics of the child but others will develop in the course of the gestation.
The artist will have an initial plan but an artwork is discovered in the making. As Napoleon was once known to say when choosing a commander for the next battle, ‘I know he’s a good General, but is he lucky?’ The General, like the artist needs more than skill. The leap from artisan to artist necessitates a sensitivity denied to many, the capability to impregnate an image with an intellectual content beyond the pictorial elements of the composition. As a story is more than a collection of words an artwork is more than its compositional elements. It contains subject that in some sense can be read as a story can be read. [Given that there isn’t a universally agreed definition of art I offer the foregoing as satisfying the most immediate requirements of describing the essential difference between an image or form that is an artwork and another that is not an artwork.]
In acknowledging that skill isn’t art, flame worked glass or indeed any use of contemporary glass is not alone. It is so with all art media, skill to represent the subject does not alone make a painter an artist. While skill is of course most commonly utilized in fabricating an artwork and indeed many artists have the highest level of ability to manipulate their medium, skill and intention are not criteria by which an artwork can be defined or recognised. Undeniably, skill is frequently employed by the artist and is no more evident than in the artworks of master flameworkers who recurrently labour within the grasp of disaster, manoeuvring the glass as hot as is possible, continually twisting and turning the piece to keep it from becoming a victim of the flame as a moth may be destroyed by that to which it is attracted.
Yet skill alone will never make a work of art and art will never be entirely dependent upon skill. The 20th Century exposed Western art to artists removed from the skills of the great European painters of earlier times. Franz Kline used a house broom to sweep the paint onto the canvas, Jackson Pollock flicked and splashed paint and Picasso outsourced the skill component to a potter who made the forms that the artist then pushed, pulled and painted. This is not to suggest that an artwork is likely to be made at the flame without skill. While conceivably there could be an unskilled flameworker producing a work of art it is improbable for the dictates of the material are such that consummate ability to control the glass more ordinarily leads to the opportunity to imagine and the opportunity to make an artwork. Yet the making of an artwork is in the mind, not in manual dexterity.
Neither is this to suggest that all exhibited works are intended or destined to become art. Many are works of craft, finely conceived and immaculately wrought. The basis of the merit of these works is that they are executed with the highest quality of crafting rather than imbued with subject matter. Despite the
Nepenthes by Christian Arnold.
Mare of the Rainforest by Raymond Mifsud.
seemingly endless ‘art/craft wars’ lingering from the 1960’s there can be mutual respect conferred by the artist and the craftsperson. Indeed the one individual often enacts both roles. Not infrequently, craft works underpin the financial viability of makers while creating artworks fertilizes their practice. There is at times an inferred hierarchy ranking craft lower than art, sometimes with design somewhere in between. More logically, it can be recognised that each has its value and each its own zenith.
Flame working is an ancient technique, older than is recorded but represented in any inventory of the great glass works from ancient times until the present. Current practice is to use a burner fuelled by Liquid Petroleum Gas enhanced with a supply of oxygen for borosilicate glass, or for soft glass LPG and air. For small pieces or for silica glass LPG and hydrogen are used. The earliest technology was likely to have been a fire, perhaps controlled by a cone shaped ceramic chimney that focused the flame at a work area and drew air from the bottom to increase the temperature. This is thought to be the method utilized by Egyptian bead makers around 3,000 BCE. A similar apparatus had been in use in Northern Africa and Japan up to 2,000 years ago and flame worked beads were known in the Roman era. From the 14th Century flame working has been utilised extensively in Murano alongside furnace working. [In 19th Century Venice great numbers of beads for trading with Africa were made at the furnace and later decorated with flame working techniques.]
Subsequent developments led to an oil flame being used, its heat intensified by directing a small stream of air into the flame, initially from a tube inserted in the flame workers mouth and later from hand or foot operated bellows. Developments in scientific research in the 15th Century necessitated precise vessels unaffected by a variety of chemicals and of a specific shape and volume. This stimulated the advancements in techniques and equipment for flame worked glass.
Perhaps surprisingly, in 16th Century Europe there was awareness of deforestation and the large quantity of fuel required for furnace blowing. This stimulated a trend towards flame working smaller items that in turn allowed lower retail pricing resulting in a great number of glass items in homes. By the 18th Century there were localised industries across Europe producing small decorative items for the public. In France figurines of people and animals were produced until the early 20th Century in the town of Nevers. In Germany the village of Lauscha was devoted to the production of Christmas ornaments and in Italy the glass studios of Venice produced at the flame millefiori beads [a technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns]. The term is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).
For the purpose of botanical study in the 1800’s actual plant specimens were pressed and dried, forgoing the original colour and three-dimensional form. This limitation was overcome by the use of replicas made from flame worked glass. In Germany from 1887 to 1936 Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka toiled at the flame producing 847 life-size models representing 780 species and varieties of plants from 164 botanical families as well as over 3,000 models of details such as enlargements of plant parts and anatomical sections. The major collection of their work, some 4,400 pieces was commissioned as a donation to Harvard University, then a centre of excellence in the study of matters botanical. Legend has it that when examined by US Customs the glass replicas were so convincing that they were classified as actual plant specimens and relegated to quarantine. Now internationally celebrated the collection is viewed by approximately 200,000 visitors annually.
Generally, lampworking is inherently more suited to smaller works than is the case with furnace working. The exception is large works made on a glass lathe that uses multiple flames, more often for industrial purposes. Individual artisans and medium sized production companies keep the world amply supplied with beads from the elegant to the superfluously decorated for any and all occasions. Often produced in India they are souvenir
King of the Sea by Christian Arnold and Laurie Young. Tango Phalaenopsis by Laurie Young.
favourites acquired in many countries with a firm handshake and promise by the vendor that they are the ultimate example of local custom. Artist or craftsperson flameworkers of beads fill classes, demonstrations and workshops to the brim, exponentially enhancing zeal for this passion. Bead making may underwrite many a flame working business with these morsels of colour and pattern.
The heady days of the 1960’s / 70’s witnessed contemporary glass entering art schools in many countries. Public and professional attention was drawn first by furnace workers then by kiln workers. Flameworkers were initially overshadowed but that would change. America was aided by the sharing of Venetian skills, particularly by master flameworkers Gianni Toso and Luccio Bubacco. Flame working is now a fully fledged partner in contemporary glass, exhibited in notable galleries and acquired by museums and acclaimed private collections.
Until the 1960’s Australian universities employed flame workers to fabricate chemistry equipment and whatever else might be needed. Imagine a group of glass pipes heated side by side until they joined and then one end stretched to virtually a needlepoint yet maintaining the hole in each pipe. A useful characteristic of glass is that the tiny holes in each pipe maintain the proportion of the original larger holes in the other end. Now nearly superseded Australian university flame working departments have all but vanished. Just three or four companies in Australia continue commercial flame working.
In New Zealand a comparable diminishment of university flame workers proceeds. Of the nine universities there are only five with flame workers. The studio glass artists and craftspeople have been somewhat a life preserver for traditional techniques as commercial production of handmade glass diminishes in Australia and comparable countries.
Boshan is one of the eminent glass making regions of China. With the vast contrasts of a rapidly developing country there are family operated glass factories of studio scale alongside major corporations. One smaller business is Zibo Aimei Glass Manufacturing that has both furnace blowing and flame working teams, each with less than fifteen key staff. A few minutes away is Shandong Hongda Glassware that uses up to 200 tonnes of glass a day to produce every conceivable domestic container utilizing both robotic technology and manual gathering from the furnace. In the last decade the government has paid high attention to the development of flame working and other glass making industries and provided annual government subsidies for glass artisans and further glass industry support. Flame worked glass products are very popular with the local population and almost every family owns some pieces. The Boshan flame working artisans endeavour to make their works true to life. The subjects are mainly vivid realistic flowers, fish, insects, birds, animals, cartoon and human characters. The China National Light Industry Association has granted the Boshan region two national honorary titles in flame working. There are a great number of technicians, artisans, workshops and factories engaged in flame working. Unsettling though it may be, all the smaller glass works available in Venice are now made in China.
Flame working has been taught in South Africa at Tshwane University since 1996. It has equal weighting with furnace, kiln and cold working course work. Graduates often continue as flameworkers as the technology and production costs are more manageable than those of the other techniques. The contemporary glass programme was developed as a result of an initiative and support from The Consol Group, the manufacturer of glass vessels in South Africa.
Between the 1960’s and the 1980’s in the city of Hsin Chu, near the western coast of Taiwan there was a substantial flame working industry producing export items of Christmas ornaments and decorative lighting. Demand withered and financial considerations led firms to export the remaining
Cactus Garden by Peter Minson. Seeing Red by Su Bishop.
Necklace by Susie Barnes.
Animal of Unknown Origin by Richard Clements.
employment to China. The glass industry in Hsin Chu has diversified with a few master flame workers making artistic and decorative works alongside glass casters and furnace blowers. The region remains renowned for its Glass Museum of Hsinchu City that hosts a biennial international glass festival.
In Australia exhibition quality flame worked glass has been championed by Kirra Galleries particularly with its annual FLAME ON GLASS exhibitions and public demonstrations from 2003 until the present. These events serve as a compendium of highly regarded practitioners, some of great experience, others having matured with the development of contemporary glass in Australia. These exhibitions include the works of many notable glass artists. When Australian glass artists formed the association, ‘Ausglass’ in the 1970’s there were few flameworkers. Richard Clements surprised many of the furnace blowing majority with his creative and adaptive use of flame techniques to produce works that well fitted the parameters of contemporary glass.
It has been said that to achieve art there must be three contributors, the artist, the critic and the gallery. Admittedly, a critic made this comment and others may disagree with the inextricability of that trinity but certainly artists are dependant upon galleries to expose and promote both individuals and their particular field of expression. Exhibitions such as FLAME ON GLASS are the stimulus for ever greater works. In the promotion of Australian and New Zealand contemporary glass artists, both flame workers and otherwise, Kirra Galleries has played its part resoundingly. Kirra has well supported its stable of artists both in Australia and internationally and been the oxygen fed into the artist’s flame, enhancing the heat, brightening the glow.
Dr. Gerry King
Light Dragon by Mark Eliott. Photo credit Pamela Lee Brenner and Johannes Muljana.
Life Forms by Cas Davey. Lotus 1 by Giselle Courtney. .
Beetle by Raymond Mifsud. Eastern Rosella and Blue Gum by Kathryn Chaston
BBBBB JJJBonsai by Peter Minson.
Bonsai by Peter Minson.
Ocean Half Bead Neckpiece by Kathryn
然而，单靠技术并不能让一件作品成为艺术品，同时艺术也绝不能完全依赖于技术。二十世纪的西方艺术曾受到早期欧洲著名画家弱化技术的影响。Franz Kline用一把扫帚将颜料扫到画布上，Jackson Pollock用手指轻弹、泼溅颜料，Picasso（毕加索）将部分技术外包给陶工，陶工先做好模型之后，毕加索在此基础上推、拉、画。这并不是说一件工艺品可以在没有技术的情况下完成。一个技术不到家的灯工制作者完成一件作品是很有可能的，但用料原则要求非常高，需要完美掌握玻璃的控制技术，才能带来构想和制作艺术品的条件。总之，艺术品的创作来自于巧妙的构思而非熟练的手艺。
1800年代曾有个植物学研究，将植物样本压缩、脱水，在原色和3D形式之前。这个限制随着灯工玻璃制作的复制品的使用而得以突破。1887年到1936年德国的Leopold和 Rudolf Blaschka二人辛勤地致力于灯工制作出847件原型大小的模型以代表780种物种以及来自于164个植物家族中的各种植物，还有超过3000件局部细节模型，比如有放大版的植株部位，局部解剖面等。这些作品的大部分，其中4400件被委托捐献给哈佛大学，那里有一个关于植物学的卓越研究基地。据说，由于这些玻璃复制品太逼真了，以至于美国海关在检查的时候，将之认定为真实的植物样本，并归入需要检验检疫的类别中。而今每年大约有20万的游客来参观这些作品。
自1996年起，南非茨瓦尼大学开始教授灯工技术，其与炉制、窑制玻璃、冷加工玻璃等课程并重。大多数的毕业生通常会继续从事灯工制作，因为灯工技术以及生产费用比其他技术更加可控。 Consol （康索尔）集团是南非玻璃容器的一家制造商，因其发起的计划与支持，南非现代玻璃项目得以发展。
Gerry King is an artist and designer specializing in contemporary glass. His work is exhibited, collected and published internationally. It is held in twenty public collections worldwide. He holds seven academic awards in art and education culminating in a Doctor of Creative Arts. In the 1980's, with others he developed the Glass Studies degree at the University of South Australia. He is engaged as a consultant, author, workshop leader and conference lecturer internationally. In 2016 he was the guest lecturer at the Boshan Glass Festival.
It was published by Kirra Galleries, Melbourne Australia.
They did that on connection with a flame glass festival they have each year.
It is called Flame on Glass.
Into the Flame has the ... ISBN 978-0-646-97393-7
It is an international catalogue system to record writing that is published.
澳大利亚墨尔本的基拉画廊每年举办一次名为“Flame on Glass”的灯工玻璃艺术节，基于此，本文由基拉画廊特约撰稿出版。文章Into the Flame的国际标准书号是ISBN 978-0-646-97393-7。ISBN是专门为识别图书等文献而设计的国际编号。