Glassblower Edmond Byrne explains how sketching, as well as historical influences, inform his creative practice.
“I do a lot of drawing.” The process of putting pen to paper is the catalyst behind Edmond Byrne’s filmy glass creations. “Before I make a piece, I do abstract drawings, and then I build moulds using clay and plaster that are informed by the marks and textures in the drawings.”
Originally from Dublin, but currently based in Surrey, Edmond first discovered glassblowing as a student at NCAD. “My idea of glass was limited to cut crystalware, but I learned in college that glass was a highly creative medium which can be adapted to different aesthetics.” He went on to work under Dale Chihuly, the American artist famed for his gargantuan glass sculptures. “It was truly a mind-blowing experience. At the age of 20, I was working with the most talented glassblowers in the world, making the most exciting and challenging glass at the time.”
The Kaolin Patina Bowl is part of a recent handblown collection for the British design brand The New Craftsmen. It is a large-scale blow, measuring 40cm in diameter. The rippled exterior of the bowl is tinted with an amber brown gradient that seeps into amethyst hues, and finished with a china clay patina. A contrast is made between this undulating amber exterior and the smooth brick-red hollow of the bowl’s centre. “I made them with completely different colours on the inside, so when you look in you get a flood of colour and texture. This interactive experience between scale, colour and the audience runs through my work.”
The clay patination technique favoured by Edmond is an endeavour to echo glasswork and sculpture of yore. “I’m intrigued by objects that have a resonance from the past. I add patina and cracks to the glass surface to recreate the weathering of ancient Roman glass.” This nod to history is something that he feels runs parallel through Irish design in general. “We generally draw from materials and processes that have been used on this island for thousands of years. This is the great strength of our heritage.” Despite working through a fragile medium, great strength is exactly the thing that vibrates through Edmond Byrne’s designs.