The Swiss glassblower Thomas Blank (b. 1973) uses glass to create multifaceted objects that bear witness to the countless steps of their fabrication in his Bern studio: the careful heating and shaping of the molten glass, the flashing of the blown form with colored layers, grinding with a rotating disk, and finally polishing.
The object already took shape before Blank’s inner eye, and he then only needed to put his idea into material form in an elegant solo workflow in his Bern studio. He first blew the sphere out of red glass with the glass pipe and flashed it with an outer layer of transparent orange. After carefully knocking it off the pipe, the object was cooled in a controlled manner in the cooling oven. The actual ornament was then added afterward by means of so-called cold working. At regular intervals, Blank placed the nearly spherical piece on the diamond grinding wheel, working out large patterns according to a sketch applied directly to the glass. Blank learned this Venetian “battuto” cut, which gives the surface a hammered appearance reminiscent of silverwork, in Murano, where the architect and designer Carlo Scarpa had already experimented with it successfully in the 1930s. Polishing, carried out under constant cooling by flowing water, gives the workpiece the desired finish, while the artist’s engraved signature makes it into a clearly identifiable unique artwork. Blank was gripped by a fascination with the material of glass during his studies at San Francisco State University in the late 1990s. There he learned the technical and theoretical fundamentals of glass design, enabling him to create erratic objects whose surfaces beg to be touched. (Sabine Flaschberger)