The Quest for Optical Magic
Glass is a wonderfully capricious medium and exploration of the mystery of how patterns can be reflected in heavy glass objects has been something of a holy grail for me. Optical Magic is my term for this intriguing phenomenon where glass and light play tricks on the eye. It is hard to predict what the final result will be until the blown objects emerge from the laborious process of cold working with a brilliant fully-polished surface.
Optic Trail Bowls
These marked the beginning of my foray into Optical Magic in 2007 and I made them up until late 2012.
Birds Nest Geodes
An early success in Optical Magic where a jumbled floating trail of glass sat in the centre of a piano-black geode. These were made from 2009 to 2014.
I had a lot of fun making Spiky Geodes between 2009 and 2014. The interesting patterns that are reflected into the clear glass were produced by plucking and poking the outside of a very hot gather of glass with speed and decisiveness.
During my time at the National Glass School in Orrefors I developed a mottled, grey rock-like effect imitating pebbles which I had picked up on a beach during a holiday in the Cinque Terra in Italy. This finish later became a key element in my next Optical Magic creation.
Back in New Zealand in 2012 I used it on the Granite Geodes which have become my most popular and sought after basic design. Over the years various styles have been resolved, including some with hidden messages in morse code.
Between 2014 and 2016 the Titoki Geode was in production. They came about after I spent an afternoon drawing on different leaves with a marker pen searching for a new motif. There was something about the Titoki leaves that leant themselves to a fluid almost fish like pattern that created Optical Magic by swimming in the reflected inner bubble.
Inspired by Venetian cane work vases which I came across on a visit to Murano, Cane Geodes were produced between 2014 and 2015. At that time we had recently switched glass from a yellowish homemade Whangarei Polytech batch recipe to using Spectrum nuggets which were amazingly clear. My aim was to create a crisp Scandinavian effect, emphasising the clarity of the glass and so drawing the eye into the Optical Magic without any of the extravagant detail which is often seen in Venetian glass.
There are occasions when a few subtle hearts say it all and so it was inevitable that they would work their way into my collection. I have made Heart Geodes in various styles on and off over the years. This one was made in 2021.
Special Text Geodes
Like the Heart Geodes from time to time over the past eight years I have used Optical Magic to create one offs and limited editions with text. Aroha was made in 2020.
In 2019 Fern Geodes were made with their reflected patterns nodding at our iconic native New Zealand plant.
In 2020 the quest for even more magic resulted in my Batik style. The trails and frits produce a very wax-like finish which reflects beautifully on the inner bubble.