Leigh Craven
Pate de Verre Vessels
The technique of pate de verre is most closely associated with the art nouveau movement, and artists such as Almeric Walter and G. Argy-Rousseau. The complex and illusive technique lacks mass production qualities, and therefore never gained the popularity of glass blowing. Many of the secrets of the technique have been lost in history, which prompted me to investigate the elaborate process.

The process begins by building a clay model of a form that I hope to create in glass. I encase this clay model in a thick plaster shell. The original clay model is than removed from the interior of the plaster, leaving behind a useable plaster mold. The mold is carefully packed with various colored glass powders and frits. These colors are thoughtfully visualized and then placed, as the colors do not reach their actual hue or saturation until the firing process is complete. Once the mold is packed with glass it is then fired in a kiln. The firing/fusing schedule lasts over thirty hours in length. The schedule slowly heats the glass to allow the frits to move, fuse, and reach desired color saturation and translucency. If the firing completes successfully, the plaster mold must be broken and chipped away to reveal a glass vessel.

The created works were inspired by nature, more specifically, botanicals. I did not attempt to mimic, rather I strived to embody the aura of flora. The pieces are extremely thin and fragile. These attributes enhance the delicate nature that stems from the elements that inspired them; with the softness of their jewel-like glow complementing their rough, organic edges.

The research that led to the creation of these works would not have been possible without the generous support of a Faculty Librarian Research Grant.