New Zealand Part 1
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).
Photos from our Seminar "The History & Art of Glassblowing"Here's a couple of photos from our seminar at Cortona Cafe on Dec 12th, 2009. Stay tuned for a public posting of our slides. We had a great time. Thank you, everyone, for your support!
Seminar on "The History & Art of Glassblowing" this Saturday!This Saturday, Dec 12th, at 4:00pm Brian will be giving a seminar at Cortona Cafe entitled "The History & Art of Glassblowing." He'll be sharing about his experience as an artist and will talk about Sophietta and the exciting new projects on the horizon.
For more details and to RSVP, please visit the Facebook Event Page
The Mezzanine Level at Cortona Cafe
Origins of our name "Sophietta"
Finding a fitting name for our business was challenging. It needed a name that reflected the Italian tradition of glass, sounded sophisticated and modern, and didn't come across too stuffy.
We tried to translate words into Italian, and then tried to translate Italian words into English. Nothing quite fit. Finally, one evening I was sitting around with my fiancée and she asked me to list some of the tools we use in the glassblowing process. Jacks, tweezers, straight sheers, diamond shears, sophietta…..that was it! Sophietta, a tool we use to inflate vessels when they are in the finishing stages of the blowing process (see image on the left). Glassblowing tools have changed very little in the last thousand years, so using the name of a traditional tool to name our business is perfect. It's also one of the few tools that have carried its Italian name over to America (they renamed just about everything when the American studio movement got underway in the 60's). We hope you enjoy our goblets and our website. I will post a video soon that shows me using a sophietta to inflate the cup of a goblet.
Welcome to Sophietta.com!
Welcome to Sophietta.com! We are a company born in the tradition of Venetian glass, with an ever-present eye on modern design. Like a piece of art, what started out as only an idea is now shaped into reality. Our goal is to provide our customers with beautiful, handmade glassware for their dining tables that they can enjoy for years to come. Each piece is made by hand, so no two pieces are exactly the same. Slight variations in size and weight are evidence of their handmade quality. Each piece is signed, further evidence of their unique quality and as a guarantee of authenticity.
We hope you enjoy our website and look forward to bringing beauty to your table!