Glass Seaweed and Fragile Oceans

Glass seaweed sculpture in progress.
Glass seaweed in progress.

Recently I began creating a large glass seaweed sculpture inspired by ocean flora.  During the past year I have been creating sculptures inspired by various garden plants and ocean forms.  I was especially interested in sea corals and sea anemone with their intricate linear patterns.  Recently I stumbled across a book called An Ocean Garden.  The Red Seaweed photographs really inspired this current sculpture.  For me this glass seaweed sculpture has been an epiphany.  This focus on ocean flora combines my interests with ocean life and conservation.

Working sketches for glass seaweed sculpture.
Working sketches for glass seaweed sculpture.

Working with Sketches

I have kept sketches and handwritten notes of my sculpture since the early 1980’s.  This practice of drawing, image-collecting and note-taking is pure magic to me.  Drawing is where all the excitement lies in sculpture.  I am always collecting images and sketching out ideas the flash through my mind throughout the day.  My book is very large and always open!  This series of glass sculptures are really a form of drawing with glass.  For this glass seaweed sculpture, I made a series of sketches that explore the patterns of the seaweed plant. I was most interested in the types of seaweed plants that have multiple, swaying tendrils from a vertical stem.

Glass seaweed sculpture with temporary supports around the top edge.
Glass seaweed sculpture with temporary supports around the top edge.

Creating a Strong, Sinuous Structure

When I began this glass seaweed sculpture I wanted to create a large-scale work.  This meant using a wider diameter rod such as 8mm boro.  I spend a lot of time working on the structure and stability of a sculpture.  Making the work visually interesting and strong is a real joy for me.  Some pointers I have learned in reading about large-scale flameworked glass is that you must anneal often.  This has really been the case for me when using larger rods.  There are trade-offs when you scale your work up.  You will spend a lot of time cleaning and annealing your work.  On the other hand my work is about ideas and sometimes you have an idea that demands scale.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy Sculpting with a Glass Art Hand Torch or Creating a Glass Jellyfish Step by Step.