Four weeks on… and we still catch ourselves wondering…..”did that really happen?”. To be in the presence of such an amazing master of glass, such an extraordinary glass sculptor, is truly a unique experience and we’re sure we speak for all who were lucky enough to attend this unique and exclusive event…
So Martin and Marek arrived from Prague on the Thursday night, jet lagged and definitely tired, but still excited to be in Bristol, and very much in search of Bansky. We checked in at Devereaux and Huskie Glassworks on the Friday, which was where the event was hosted. A fabulous studio, about 20 mins from The Glass Hub in Wiltshire, James and Katie work to commission, making some of the most exciting glass in the UK, for various artists and designers. It was also recently used to film Monty Dons “Real Craft” series.
Friday afternoon was spent in search of (and success in finding) five of Bansky’s artworks in Bristol city. Katie and I also enjoyed showing three very tall European men around!
Saturday morning at Deveurex and Huskie’s, all ten golden ticket holders quietly waited while Martin prepared the final touches to his bench set up and requirements. His main tools are the oxy/propane torch and some weirdly sinister looking bespoke tools, which he uses to heat specific areas and manipulate from inside and outside the form. Martin then made several gathers, rolled in powder, and blown up as a vessel, quickly as if a simple large vase was to be formed. The “vessel” form is then constrained in several places, and a section allowed to slump slightly off centre… so begins the sculpture.
In order for Martin to manipulate from the inside, the form is opened slightly to allow the tools to “push” from the inside out. The neck is long, the chin develops and the back of the skull are all defined…..we were all by now silent and clicking away with cameras and pencils.
In the meantime, each heating is carefully and so skilfully made by Marek as they worked in union like a perfect dance duo……and the face begins to take shape, nose, eye sockets, open mouth, and lips. We were all gobsmacked at the attention to detail, and just as you thought it can’t possibly get any better, it’s then pushed further and further.
Ears, skull, final definition and then……punty.
To think of doing that punty!!! …..after three hours in the bench it seems so risky, but of course, even in a new studio and unfamiliar ground, the definition of a master is one who knows the temperature, movement and every minute detail, so the Czech boys were not at all worried.
The neck is then pulled, opened, sheared and opened in a fantastically unique fashion to open up into collar boned torso…and then..sinews..and of course..his adams apple. Then a quick tap, 4.5 hrs later, the piece is in lehr…….and off we go straight to lunch.. “Just like that”….A brief lunch, and then the boys were back in the bench as they made a solid sculpted hand to finish the first day.
And it did not end there. We all collected with others at The Glass Hub that evening, to enjoy more food, some alcoholic refreshments, and quickly lit the Minimelt……not quite expecting the floor show that we did……venetian stemware as if they had not done enough glass making that day. The minimelt was set up in the big barn, a lovely memory of the olden days, back 12 years ago, when we had a hot shop in there!
Sunday was upon us all too quickly, luckily the visitors had more restraint than some of us, and Helga had taken them back around 1am from the party…..and they proved in true Czech style, that a few beers does not inhibit glassmaking, as Martin and Marek gave us a brilliant final day.
Starting the days demonstrations, a skull was created, accurately and precisely blown, opened and sculpted (I want to say “carved”), or “melted” and manipulated into shape……even teeth were applied to this beautiful piece, and it was puntied and finally sprinkled with bicarbonate of soda, to give an Italian “Scavo” effect..(as if it had just been dug out of the ground).
Next it was a dog’s head, beautifully made, and showing supreme coordination and skills as the symmetry and flawless theatre of glass making skills became apparent, and a pure joy to behold. The ears were spectacular, stuck on as large flat flaps, then folded over, creating character and canine beauty! And the nose..aww..that is so perfectly marked.
After lunch, we were treated to Martins most popular request, the horses head, as again, he blew up the fastest large vessel form I’ve personally ever seen. This then is necked in, slumped, opened out, and flattened with cork pads……eye sockets, nostrils, mouth, facial sinews, cheeks, eyes, lids, then puntied and finally the ears put on….Awesome.
And so we finished with the sun shining, we all said goodbye and thank you to the most fabulous duo around. We are glad that they will be living back in Europe, after spending so long in the States. And we hope that the inspiration, talent and ambition this has ignited in each and everyone of us, starts a new phase of sharing skills in Europe. Because without masters like that, sharing their own individually developed techniques and skills..where would the glass world be?
Thank you Martin and Marek for sharing your talents and love of glass.
Devereux and Huskie for hosting and engineering the visit with us
And to all who came and made this such an incredible weekend.