Archeological Glass Artist
Learn about a glass-blowing enthusiast's "archaeological series."
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Kent Kahlen stumbled into the art department at Santa Ana Junior College one day, saw a couple of students working on glass projects, and he was blown away by the process of glass blowing. Since then he has been obsessed with glass art, and his obsession has paid off.
Kahlen calls his signature works the "archaeological series," because he creates Neoclassical Greek shapes like urns and amphorae that have seemingly natural holes in them, as if they were unearthed artifacts instead of new works.
His process begins by hand-blowing the glass vessel of his choosing. During the blowing process he colors the glass, inside and out, by rolling the hot glass in colored glass powder called frit. Once the piece is fully shaped and broken off the rod, it is cooled fully overnight.
But Kahlen isn't satisfied with a brand new glass vase or urn; he'd rather it look ancient. So he designs "damage holes" for his vessel and sketches their dimensions right onto the glass. Once those are to his liking, he coats the entire piece with a rubber resist, which creates a sort of protective shell on the glass. Then he uses a craft knife to cut away the rubber over the areas he's designated as the damage, exposing the bare glass framed within the rubber. Once exposed, he sandblasts that glass out of the vessel, creating gaping holes that look like they naturally broke off. By cutting the freeform shapes out of the rubber resist, rather than simply surrounding his designs and blasting them out, Kahlen can control the exact flow and shape of each missing piece.
The end result is a visually striking puzzle, a classically crafted vessel that feels historic yet is something wholly new.