In between glassblowing sessions in her atelier, we caught up with artist Randi Solin of Solinglass to talk taste, technique, and taking the heat.
Define your aesthetic for us.
This is such an interesting question! I feel like I mix many styles together and create my own. In my glassblowing I use Italian techniques that I have altered—a big dose of American overlaid onto the Italian style. I also incorporate an Asian aesthetic with the forms that I am creating and am drawn to.
I follow a simplicity that allows for my colorations to really be present and come forward. When it comes to my colorations my aesthetic is influenced by Abstract Expressionism. My glass is very unique so whether you enjoy it or not there really is nothing similar.
You have said you design your pieces on paper. How do you turn 2D drawings into unique 3D creations?
I am a horrible drawer so I make these rudimentary drawings with tons and tons of words scribbled all over the paper. I know what I want in my head. I can see the colorations and textures—so I try and convey that through words. The next step is to get into the glass shop and start making a prototype or maquette. A lot of time what I see in my head cannot be translated into glass…but I learn through the process what can be. Sometimes I fall in love with an inch of a piece and then work on creating a piece based on that one inch.
Which artists have influenced you the most, and why?
In glass I absolutely love Laura de Santillana. Her work expresses something so deep and so quiet. Then there are numerous painters. Most of my influences are from painting: Pollock, Miró, Kandinsky, Rothko. I love texture and layers.
What can glass convey that other media can’t?
Light first and foremost—bending light and optics. I guess plastic can do this but there is a different kind of soul with every material and glass speaks of fragility and yet permanence. I think about the fact that glass can live throughout time, long after we are gone. My pieces or other glass pieces will be left behind for the archaeologists to theorize about in the future. It will not change over time like a painting—that is, as long as it’s annealed properly.
How do you handle the heat when you’re blowing glass?
I joke that after blowing glass for over 32 years I have the blood of a very old lady that lives in Florida. Our bodies get used to it over time. Don’t get me wrong: It’s very hot. The working temperature of the glass furnace is 2100 degrees. We have to dip into that to get the glass. I sweat a lot and drink a lot of water. When working on large pieces I use protective sleeves and sometimes gloves. I have assistants that also shield the heat from me as much as possible.
A selection of glass artworks by Randi Solin is currently on exhibition and for sale at The Mezzanine Gallery at The Met Store as well as at the Lobby Store, The Met Breuer. Call 212-570-3767 for purchasing information.