“I’m always surprised by the reactions to my work, but I hope everyone who sees it finds amazing eye candy in it—whether it be colors, detail, pattern or glass’ ability to suspend objects in space.” One would argue that there is more than simply eye candy in David Patchen’s breathtaking blown-glass pieces. Patchen’s pieces are truly unique creations that exist as experiments in light, color, and composition. Several resemble colorful sea anemones or coral, both of which influence his work. “My inspirations are indirect but generally come from my experiences scuba diving, where I often see patterns and color combinations I find intriguing.” Patchen’s brilliant patterns in his work are created through bubbles of clear molten glass and the techniques of <em>cane</em> and <em>murrine,</em> “essentially colored rods of glass and patterned tiles of glass, respectively, that I create, cut to size, then arrange to design the patterns of pieces. Once heated back up, these compositions can be incorporated into a blown piece,” Patchen explains. The process takes two people, involves temperatures as high as 2100 degrees Fahrenheit, and only about ten seconds of actual glass blowing. With such a precise and high-risk environment, major mishaps sometimes occur. “I’ve had assistants drop the pipe with a hot piece attached, and I’ve accidentally whacked my leg with a fifteen-pound gather of 2100-degree molten glass right out of the furnace.” (Long pants saved him.) “And once during a demo my assistant dropped all my color on the floor.” Still, Patchen says the physical aspects of “split-second timing, seamless coordination with an assistant, intense concentration, and a good bit of muscle” really draw him into the work. Patchen grew up just outside New York City and was a musician for several years before he found glass, though he always had an attraction to it. “My grandparents had some pieces of glass that I always found intriguing as a child, and I had a curiosity about working with molten glass for decades.” At a show in San Francisco, now Patchen’s hometown, he saw a glass-blowing demonstration. “I was transfixed and absolutely blown away, pun intended. The idea that you could make something amazing and beautiful out of a lump of what appears to be glowing honey still excites me every day.” Patchen’s work can be seen in fifteen galleries across the globe from Seattle to Austria to Japan, where Patchen just finished an artist-in-residency. April 10 and 11 the Temple Arts Festival in Nashville will feature several of Patchen’s pieces on display and available for sale. See Templenashville.org for more on Temple Arts or davidpatchen.com for more on David Patchen.
by Freya West