West Horsley glass-blowing artist Adam Aaronson
- Credit: Archant
Having recently moved to a new studio in West Horsley, glass-blowing artist Adam Aaronson is finding inspiration for his unique and very colourful work in the surrounding countryside. Surrey Life’s Janet Donin went to meet him...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2014
When did you first become interested in glass? I was about four years old when my sister and I saw some Bohemian glass in a local shop. We loved it so much we saved up and bought a small bud vase for my mother’s birthday. That style of glass has now become very collectable.
How did your journey into the world of glass begin? I could easily have become a potter or photographer, but when I left university, I persuaded my mother to convert her antiques shop into a glass gallery. Then, later, we opened a gallery in London’s Piccadilly specialising in contemporary British glass, which was great fun. Ten years on, we opened a studio where artists in glass could work and it was then that I started working with glass-blowing myself. It took ten years for me to develop my skill base, but every day I learn more.
What is it that fascinates you about glass? I’m captivated by the speed and spontaneity of glass-blowing; however, increasingly, I’m moving away from functional forms like vases and exploring the potential of the glass object. These works are intended to have a primitive quality that preserves the fluidity inherent in the glass medium.
Where do you find inspiration for your work? I’m very fond of the reflections of light on water and the ever-changing patterns light creates. I’m forever looking at the sky and sunsets always enthral me. Glass is the ideal medium to express the idea of continual change, not only in its molten state but also in the way light creates endless nuances in the finished piece.
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Tell us about the process of blowing glass? Creating any piece takes a lot of planning, but basically we heat what’s called a blowing iron until it’s cherry red. This is then dipped into a crucible of molten glass where the liquid glass is gathered like treacle from a jar. By blowing down the iron, the glass is inflated to a light bulb shape. More molten glass is then gathered to build up the mass and colour from glass granules or powder can be introduced. The glass can then be manipulated into the form you want by hand, using a wad of wet newspaper, which is a fantastic insulator. Finally, the object is separated from the iron and put in an annealing kiln to cool down overnight.
Do you always work alone? Well, nobody can make pieces over a certain size entirely on their own so it’s sensible to have someone with skills to work on preparation, doing the first blowing or heating up the colour for instance. It’s a form of choreography but basically I have my hands on throughout the process so I have complete control.
Have you a favourite piece? My Flame vases, which I designed a few years ago, are particular favourites, but they are rather self-indulgent and rather mad technically as each have as many as 24 elements within them and take a team of about 10 people to help me produce.
What are you working on at the moment? I prefer to work spontaneously beginning with an outline in my mind’s eye that evolves as I am working. My latest large scale blown glass pieces, called The Imaginary Landscape, incorporate the ‘late colouring’ technique where a full size hot glass vessel is covered in silver leaf then rolled over powders to pick up a layer of colour. Reheating melts the colours onto the surface before more are applied to build up tone and texture. Remembering which colour is where and its intensity is a bit like a composer knowing how chords will sound together.
How do you like to relax away from work? My main relaxation tends to be walking. Sheepleas, which is just up the road, has acres of woodland and meadow and it’s a great place to explore with my cocker spaniel, Archie.
What’s the best thing about living in Surrey? Within an 11-mile radius we have 15 National Trust sites or equivalent to visit so we’re completely blessed in that sense. And we’re surrounded by lovely towns like Dorking, Godalming and Guildford. And since moving to Surrey, I think I’ve been to the theatre – the Yvonne Arnaud – more often than I ever did in London. I really should have moved here years ago.
Finally, what plans do you have for the future? I need to consolidate the studio. We’ve only been here for nine months but it is my biggest studio to date and it’s taking time to get just right. I also have various exhibitions planned both here and in Europe so it’s going to be quite a busy year.
To find out more about Adam and his work, visit http://adamaaronson.com. Adam Aaronson Glass Studio, Foxbury Barn, Epsom Road, West Horsley, Surrey KT24 6AR