February 28, 2020

Two artists share their glass-blowing passion with students

glass, swirls, circles

By Aaliyah Bryant —

Dante Marioni and John Kiley led the “Sutherland Endowed Chair in Glass Lecture Series” at the Cressman Center Feb. 20.

Kiley started working with glass in 1991, and Marioni started over 40 years ago.

As experts, they have to take safety precautions such as wearing protective eyewear and not touching hot materials since the melted sand that makes the glass is at a high temperature.

Kiley mentioned that he is inspired by a spherical shape while Marioni is inspired by pattern. They both agreed they could combine the two to make beautiful artwork. With both men creating such wonderful pieces and the amount of people that were there at this event, their art is known and loved by many others.

At this event, Kiley and Marioni made their collaborative piece and a couple of wineglasses. Ché Rhodes from the Art Department explained the process.

Rhodes said they use a long pole called a blowpipe. They then add the melted sand material at the end of the blowpipe and spin it around to make it more even.

Rhodes said to make it larger they would either add more material or blow the blowpipe. To make the glass colorful they start off with a base of clear glass, then add a colored glass on top of it followed by another layer of clear glass.

He said the patterns they made on the glass is made from a large metal clamp. They would rub the clamp across the spherical glass or clamp the edges. There is another piece of glass that holds the piece on the end of the sphere.

Marioni and Kiley then detach that part and add another on the other end of the sphere. This is because they can’t manipulate and heat both ends of the sphere at the same time.

As Marioni and Kiley made their glasses the desired size, they kept the melted glass hot so they could fuse the two spheres together. The end result was a spherical masterpiece.

They made the wine glasses next, using basically the same process but shorter.

Most pieces are made from the base up as it is easier. To make a pattern on a wine glass, Marioni and Kiley stick the not-so fully formed glass in a cup with patterns engraved in them.

As they made the wine glasses, they added a ceramic brick material to make the glass less sticky. They fused the two parts together to make a wine glass.

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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