I take on commissioned work because it brings new and unique challenges. Custom requests almost always push me into new artistic territory. The process of working with clients to create a design that suits their vision can be uncertain and it almost always evolves along the way. I am often amazed by the results of these collaborations. This is the story of one such experience.
A couple, who are antique collectors, approached me about a sculpture that they had recently acquired. They explained to me that the sculpture is a “Gerdago” Art Deco piece from the 1930’s and is one of several in a “Jester” series. Gerda Gerdago was an Austrian costume designer born in Vienna in 1906. Gerdago’s career began as a costume designer for theatrical productions and then used those designs in her sculpture work. The sculpture includes a light fixture to illuminate a glass ball that appears to be balanced on the jester’s foot, but the original glass ornament was lost or broken and when the clients obtained the piece there was a blue glass orb installed that was a bit too small for the fixture.
The project goal was to design and blow a new glass orb sized specifically for the sculpture. After some discussion, the clients and I decided on a color scheme that would make the orb appear like a “ball of fire.” In this case, the technical challenge was to blow a very light sphere with a rather large opening to fit the fixture.
The clients visited the Barrio Glassworks in Carlsbad, California, to watch me blow the piece. I made several versions in order to assure that we would obtain a satisfactory result. After the pieces annealled (cooled down slowly overnight), I completed the finishing cold work on the best one and delivered the fitted result to the clients the next day.