Bill and Jon Slade
Handblown glass artwork by Bill and Jon Slade featuring their unique and one-of-a-kind layering technique that produces a dynamic, colorful piece with silver lacing design within the sculpture. This father and son team is based in Jacksonville, Florida.
More on their Artistic Process:
Bill Slade is both an artist and chemist when he creates his exquisitely beautiful paperweights and sculptures. To achieve this degree of total control, he must prepare each batch of formula by hand, carefully measuring and weighing all the dry ingredients. He then loads the formula into the roaring furnace, which is kept at 2400 derees Fahrenheit. It is slowly melted down overnight, becoming pure crystal by the following morning.
Bill slade then begins what he describes as his “Dance of Fire”. He gathers up the molten glass on the end of a long rod, one layer upon another. After every gathering of molten glass, Bill manipulates it with hand tools to create an ethereal design before encasing it in another layer of Silver-Veiled Glass. Some of his works have up to ten layers of glass (each with its own internal design) before he is ready to create the exterior shape. During this entire process, he must keep the glass molten by repeatedly going back to the furnace, for if it becomes too cool, he can no longer shape it and achieve his designs. At the same time, if the glass is overheated, it becomes too loose and will run off the pipe onto the floor.
Achieving each unique shape requires total control of the rod, glass, and self. Here is where “The Dance” begins in earnest; reheating the glass, shaping the exterior with wooden paddles as well as using the centrifugal force of gravity. Bill must keep the glass hot enough to shape and yet not so hot as to lose its shape. If allowed to cool too quickly, the glass will crack or shatter. The finished sculpture is removed from the rod and placed in an oven, allowing it to cool overnight very slowly. The final process of this three-day creation is the grinding (and sometimes polishing) of the bottoms of the pieces. Only then will Bill engrave his signature on the side of each of his works of art.
Since first blowing glass nearly forty years ago, Bill is still fascinated by the fluidity of the glass itself. “Even after a sculpture is finished, it’s still classified as liquid. This is the whole essence of what I’m trying to convey in each work. Perhaps living in Florida for so long has also influenced me. After all, I’m surrounded by the ocean, lakes, and rivers, so it’s only natural for me to see the fluid motion extended to my art.”
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