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Knitted, Woven, Handle with Care: It’s Glass!

Posted by
on May 18, 2018 at 01:13 PM

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You begin by noticing the charming combination of various coloured yarn. Then, you appreciate the fine weave that results in such an eye-catching fabric. The knit and purl that come together to create such delicate beauties seem to be the deft work of nimble hands, And, sometimes, the hands themselves can be seen frozen at work to become one with the creation. Are those caps and socks, or are these coats or shawls with such a fine fall of the fabric? Hey, no, wait!! That’s GLASS!

 

Yes, these are some of the finest glass sculptures created by two of the most talented glass artists in the world! Carol Milne (Canada) and Cathryn Shilling (London) are, indeed, passionate artists who have done a lifetime of dedicated work in glass sculpting, pushing the limits to establish top notch careers in the field. What brings them together in this feature is the fact that both sculpt glass into uncanny likenesses of fabrics – Carol’s fabrics are knitted while Cathryn’s are woven.

© Courtesy of internet resources

Originally a graduate of landscape architecture, Carol Milne discovered her penchant for sculpture as she was finishing her graduation and started sculpting in various media. Her explorative foray seems to have found an early commitment with glass, which is a medium she has passionately worked at since the year 2000 and created extraordinary pieces. Though her creations include other forms of sculpted glass, she is best known for her ‘knitted’ glass sculptures, which she has persistently worked at to create delicate, awe-inspiring pieces.

© Courtesy of internet resources

These fascinating pieces are actual strands of deliciously coloured glass that are entangled in actual knitting patterns to create realistic looking knitwear like stoles, socks and caps. Some of them are depicted along with a pair of knitting needles in the process of knitting them. Some out of these have the hands that work the needles as well, as if a still-life was captured of the actual action. Each of these sculptures displays mind-bending delicacy, invoking an instant admiration for the exquisite craft.

© Courtesy of internet resources

It is stating the obvious to say that Carol combines her love for actual knitting with her passion for glass sculpting to become the lone pioneer in the realm of knitted glass sculptures. The pieces are created by a process of casting glass developed by Carol by integrating variations in an old forgotten method of wax casting. She says, ““I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure.  Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together.  You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart.  And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together.  The connections are what bring strength and integrity to the whole and what keep it intact.” Well, what can one say about the fascinating workings of the talented artist’s mind? One can only revel in enjoyment of the brilliant creations, which also include wearable knitted glass accessories commissioned for a fashion show, tall and sinuous plant like concrete LED lights called ‘grow lights’, tessellating garden tiles and others.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

Cathryn  Shilling works from her London studio along similar lines on glass, only her pieces are not knitted, they’re  woven fabrics. Recognised as one of the finest glass artists in the world today, Cathryn has steadily explored and developed her signature style in glass sculpting since her return from USA, where she changed tracks from Graphic Design to Stained Glass Design, to London in 2004. Here, she studied the art of kiln formed glass and blown glass under the senior expert, Peter Layton, and started her own studio in 2009.

© Courtesy of internet resources

The fabulous pieces of glass fabric that feature in Cathryn Shilling’s works are a result of painstaking artistry. Venetian glass is drawn out into thread like canes which are then delicately woven together, colours carefully calibrated to result in exquisite combinations in the final fabric. These woven pieces are then fused in a kiln and the ‘fabric’ is given a final shape thereafter. The final creations are simply brilliant in their subtle articulation of a varied range of emotions.

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‘Wear and Tear’ is a series works made purely of kiln formed glass fabric in which the small pieces of kiln formed glass cane woven fabric are fused together to form sheets which retain the faults inherent to hand-fusing in a bid to evoke the perfect imperfections in all things natural. ‘Diorama’ is a series of circular dish-shapes made from kiln formed glass with dichroic mounted on ceramic bases, which try to paraphrase traditional dioramas which offered a glimpse into nature’s beauty to instil respect towards it. The most evocative series is titled ‘Cloaked’ in which kiln formed glass fabric is variously rolled hot around 2 feet high vases of free blown glass resembling human figures ‘cloaked’ in various garments like different characters of a play.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

Both, Carol and Cathryn, artists par excellence, have gifted the world a unique artistic experience through their path-breaking works. Exploring the inter-change of behaviour and application between two vastly differing materials like yarn (or cloth) and glass has not just afforded a greater understanding of the material itself, but has opened up new hitherto uncharted realms of artistic expression. It would, perhaps, not be unfit to say that the intrepid forays of these two female artists have ‘shattered a glass ceiling’ of sorts, and have achieved a remarkable glory though their impassioned work.

© Courtesy of internet resources

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