Glass Wave Plates


Edition of 9, each a unique piece.

Free-formed slumped glass, both clear and varying shades of blue.
Approximate sizes 30 to 40 cm length, 30 cm wide, 15 cm at highest point.

Commissioned by Grainne Sweeney, National Glass Centre, Sunderland

When, recently, Lijn was commissioned to create an edition for the National Glass Centre, she suggested trying to make some plates or platters shaped like waves. Why waves? In the family of solids, glass behaves like a liquid even when appearing to be a solid. Flowing water and molten glass seem to be two ends of a spectrum of liquidity; both translucent, one cool and the other hot.

Lijn has used optical glass prisms and lenses in her work since the early 1960’s, creating totemic figures and mini installations. In1987, she gave a talk at an international glass conference at the Royal College of Art that led to an invitation to do some experimental work at the Hergiswil Glasi. In the 17th century wooden Swiss glass factory on the edge of Lake Lucerne, Lijn worked with glass blowers on a series of heads she called Torn Heads. Having produced drawings, from which two basic wooden moulds of the head shapes were made, she worked with two technicians, one blowing the glass and the other cutting and pulling it into the shapes she wanted. Lijn noticed that they had an interesting way of working with a wooden mallet or specially shaped pre-soaked baton that they used to flatten a hot glob of solid molten glass. Once flattened, they managed to shape the fuming pancake into a bowl or a plate. Lijn thought it would be interesting to use this technique to make plates shaped like waves.

There is something primeval about working with molten glass. The glass emerges from an oven as if from the centre of the earth. Blowing or shaping it must be done at high speed. The material is unforgiving. It is also very difficult, unless one is working with moulds, to make repetitive forms. Each piece, depending on the heat and the timing of the technicians’ almost gymnastic movements, emerges unique no matter how hard one tries to make an edition of similar pieces. That stubborn uniqueness is a quality of the material that Lijn finds particularly endearing.

Wave plate images 1 – 9 courtesy of the National Glass Centre.
Wave plate still life image, photo Grainne Sweeney.