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Several months ago I was fortunate enough to travel to New Zealand with my friend and mentor Preston Singletary for an Indigenous Artist gathering in Rotarua. We arrived a few days ahead of the gathering so we could make some of his work at a shop in Auckland. It was the first time in several years that I have been able to assist Preston in the glass shop.
I had never been to New Zealand before, so this trip was a brand new experience. It’s a twelve-hour flight from Los Angeles and luckily we were all able to get some sleep on the plane. This picture of Preston was taken the morning we arrived. We got in around 7am and we were in the glass shop by 11am, straight to work!
Flying in to Auckland, the first thing you can see is the rugged coast of the North Island. It’s beautiful and it reminded me a bit of the Scottish coastline. The water is more blue and warm of course! The coast gave way to rolling hills in the countryside. Think of the Shire! I was half expecting to spot little barefoot creatures running around in the pastures outside of Auckland.
Preston did a lot of sculpting in the hotshop. Ten years ago (the last time I worked with him) Preston was blowing into molds to achieve the shapes he wanted. Now he does all this by hand with specialized tools that he designed. It’s inspiring to see an accomplished glassblower continue to improve over the years.
The head that he is making in the picture had Maori designs sandblasted into the face after we finished it in the hotshop. This is part of an ongoing collaboration Preston has been working on with the Maori artist Lewis Gardiner.
A big thank you needs to go out to our friend and host Pauli. Owner of Isola glass outside of Auckland for letting us sleep in his home and take over his glass shop for a few days. Thanks Pauli (that’s him on the right).
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What is Sophietta?
The idea of Sophietta comes from a love of art. It is the result of twelve years
spent studying glass techniques and living the life of a student of art. All of our
designs are derived from examples of traditional Italian glassware found in Renaissance,
Baroque, and Vanitas paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries,
but with a modern simplicity.
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