Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Chihuly: info about the floats

Here’s an excerpt from an article on Chihuly that gives some info about the Floats series.

Who knows, if you look hard enough, maybe you’ll find a Chihuly float washed up on a beach some day…




Man of Glass

Liz Seymour
Attaché, November 1998


… Chihuly came up with the Float Project last year [1997] when he was in Japan. "When I was growing up in Tacoma you could find Japanese fishing floats on the beach after every big storm," he explains. Most Japanese fishermen have switched to plastic, but Chihuly found the last remaining traditional float maker on the island of Hakkaido in northern Japan. The float maker, Mr. Kanamori, joined Chihuly and his team in Niijima, a glass center south of Tokyo for a frenzied eight days of glassblowing. Some of the floats they made were tossed into the Pacific; future floats might be launched with labels inviting people to add their messages to a Web site.

Chihuly returned to Seattle from Japan with 1,200 of Mr. Kanamori's floats. "What will you do with them?" I ask. "Do?" He sounds puzzled by the question. "I don't know, I might hang them from a bridge. Or string them together with stainless steel wire and put them out on Lake Union. It's one of those projects that . . ." the cell phone transmission erupts in static " . . . or maybe we'll . . ." his patchy, distant voice breaks up and the phone goes dead.

Later that day I visit his second Seattle studio, a 40,000-square-foot cinderblock building on a street of modest houses. A team there is experimenting with blowing and molding Chihuly works in plastic. If they succeed, the lightweight plastic will allow Chihuly to work on an even grander scale. He has reached the physical limit on glass floats at three feet across, but polymer floats could be much larger. There are many problems still to be overcome, including the fact that polymer can't be blown like glass, so many of the components must be molded, leaving an obvious seam. Nonetheless, enormous plastic pods like upended barracudas fill a gallery at the new studio; overhead, wide plastic Persians float against the ceiling, each one secured with a single Philips-head screw. It's an intriguing sight, but clearly no match yet for Chihuly's glass work. "It's early," he says. "We'll see." …

Copyright © 1998 Attaché




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