Thomas Spake - Glass Like No Other

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show has over a dozen different categories of fine craft represented among its 195 exhibitors. This week’s blog features the art of glassblowing, with last year’s prizewinner for Excellence in Glass, Thomas Spake.

Mark Sudduth

Cleveland Heights, OH

There is a quality in glass that is generated by the glass itself. Those qualities are elusive, intriguing and seductive. I make them as much a part of my work as possible. I work with thick glass because it exhibits qualities which interest me – depth, transparency, reflection and refraction. My attention to strong form is a very important factor in my work. This thought coupled with the cold work to cut, polish, engrave, highlight surfaces using lathes, merkers, dynafiles and flexible shafts incorporating stone and diamond wheels and other various tools evident in the canted forms and anklets, gives my work a unique presence.
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Thomas Spake

Chattnaooga, TN

2018 Excellence in Glass

I find glass to be a very impressionable material, so it has the ability to be transparent, translucent or opaque, giving it the capacity to mimic the world around us; water, clouds, rock, forests, mountains. My current work is an exploration of texture and pattern. By using unconventional techniques along with the inherent chemistry of the metal oxides that formulate the colored glass, I am able to create very complex patterns that imitate natural objects or landscapes. My simple forms and shapes are intended to act as a canvas for the glasscapes to inhabit.
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Kenny Pieper

Burnsville, NC

My work is a celebration of traditional techniques, opulent colors and classical forms.
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Pavel Novak

Collingswood, NJ

I was born and raised in the Czech Republic, a country with a long tradition of beautiful glass made with impeccable craftsmanship. I make my body of work from the highest grade of optical glass which I grind, polish, laminate, color, and sand blast. Every piece is one of a kind, and is the result of hours of labor. My work is inspired by clean geometric shapes. My pieces feature bold colors and crisp lines that optically reflect on themselves and refract light creating kaleidoscopic results. I ultimately seek a balance of symmetry and asymmetry, shape and color.
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J. David Norton

Akron, OH

My fused glass landscapes are composed of clear sheet glass, colored crushed glass (frit), and torch-formed strings of glass. They are all glass, no paint! They are composed of multiple layers to form a one inch thick slab of glass. They undergo a minimum of 12 kiln firings, to create a 3D effect. They are backlighted with LED light panels. My intention in glass is to create images that are more about emotion than reality. I want the viewer to cross a threshold and enter a place of respite, escaping reality for a moment.
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Mark Lewanski

Portland, MI

Woven glass is an enigma, a contradiction, a complex and beautiful mystery. It challenges the observer in his perceptions of material properties. It is at once soft, like a delicate fabric and cold, vitreous and eternal. Metaphorically, it is the intersection of dreams, the impossible made possible. Simply stated, I weave with glass. It's not an illusion, it is truly woven.
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Robin Kittleson

Geneva, IL

Kiln formed glass with a focus on the functional. Made from hand pulled murrini, a traditional glass technique, reinterpreted in a modern context.
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Fred Kaemmer

St. Paul, MN

I use conventional glass materials in unconventional ways to decorate the interior surfaces of hand blown glass vessels. This includes tumbling glass cane inside vessels to create fused nests of glass and applying silver and copper leaf, by hand and while the piece is still hot and on the punty, to the interior surface. Fusing the metal leaf to the interior in this fashion allows the metals and original colors of the vessel to interact and create somewhat serendipitous and new colors and patterns. It is this balance between serendipity and control that is at the core of my work and motivates me to try new things.
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Nicolette Jelen

Sag Harbor, NY

I create complex structures in glass and plexiglass boxes by engraving or silk screening on glass, layering them in the box to create a 3d effect. The boxes have LED bases. My mirrors are silvered and distressed, I use eglomise, a venetian technique that removes the silver from the back, replacing it with painting, guilding or paper that create swirling worlds behind the glass.
You will be redirected to this artist’s online store. Transactions, communications and shipping arrangements are the sole responsibility of the artist and buyer.

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