Monday, May 27, 2013

Harvey Littleton and the American Studio Glass Movement

I love art glass, I love the colors, I love the infinite shapes and I love that there is so much gorgeous art glass to choose from. Until recently when I thought about art glass, the city of Seattle came to mind. While Ohio has long been a center of glass production on an industrial scale it was in Toledo Ohio where the american studio glass movement got its start.

Harvey Littleton was a ceramic artist in-spite of the wishes of his father a physicist who developed Pyrex glassware. In the late 1950's Harvey had the opportunity to spend several months in Spain and Italy. While in Naples and later in Murano he discovered that the glass factories used little demonstration furnaces to craft things for tourists. This convinced Harvey that a single artist could melt and work glass in a studio setting.

When Harvey returned to the US he began using his ceramic kiln to melt glass. He spent a number of years convincing universities and artists of the feasibility of studio glass making. Finally in 1962 he was offered the
use of a shed on the g

rounds of the Toledo ( that's Toledo Ohio) Museum of Art. With the help of chemist Dominick Labino, Harvey offered a weeklong glass blowing workshop. His new career as teacher and evangelist for glass was off and running.
Harvey's ceramic work and early glass work were beautiful vessels and bowls. However he is known for his glass sculptures which stretched the known boundaries of glass blowing.

Littleton Vase 1965
Littleton  Lemon/Red Crown

Monday, May 13, 2013

Piggy Banks

A piggy bank or penny bank is a coin container. Iin English "pig" is the animal and also a form of earthenware used to make pots and jars. Since people often saved their money in these jars they became known as "pig jars" and then evolved to pig bank.

I was thinking about piggy banks for two reasons, first because our son just graduated from college so I'm hoping our piggy bank will get a little break and secondly because there is a giant fiberglass pig in our driveway. Kahnie the Pig is a piece of Cincinnati history in that she represented the Kahns Meat Company. For a long time meat packing was big business here in Porkopolis. Kahnie is around 10 feet tall and 20 feet long. Her actual owner is the American Sign Museum. She is at our house because my husband is going to restore her to her former glorious pinkness. Anyone want to guess how many pennies she would hold?There is a Giant Pig in my driveway.

Klein Bottle

What has no volume, no edge, and is one-sided? Well technically nothing. I'm not sure a Klein bottle is really a vessel since it can't contain anything except itself. Even the word bottle was originally a mis-understanding of another German word. It is kind of a mathematical joke so I am going to call it a spiritual vessel.

Klein bottles were first described in 1882 by Mathematician Felix Klein. He probably said, " Wow, that's cool a closed and non-orientable object." That means a Klein bottle has no edge, it is one-sided. His buddies said," Felix, quit joking around. Math is serious, what are you going to do with that, make hats?"

So no matter how hard you try in our three dimensional world you cannot make an actual object which has only one side. There are however many beautiful representations of Klein bottles.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Watering Cans As Art

 We have all seen and possibly used the ubiquitous galvanized steel watering can. It has a handle and a long spout. At the end of the spout there is often a "rose" ( a cap with small holes) to break up the stream of water so as to avoid crushing the plants with too much water at once. Since the 17th century when watering cans or pots were first used, people have found other uses for watering cans besides watering plants. For instance road construction workers use watering cans to pour that black goop and many people use their can as a planter. Watering cans come is all shapes and sizes. They are made of every material you can think of. Personally I like the look of the classic steel watering can.
animal shaped watering cans from Faraday's Kitchen Store
4 ft. high fiberglass sculpture from