By Laura Goldstein
The “glory hole” furnace is blazing red hot as Jaan Andres extracts his blowpipe and breathes into it ever so softly, almost like he’s playing a musical wind instrument. That’s when the alchemy of glass-blowing begins and the intricate birth of a molten vessel starts to take shape. “I just love the unpredictability of glass but your timing has to be exact,” says Andres who is working on a decorative collection entitled Tribe II, to be showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative booth at IDS-Vancouver, September 20-23rd in the Convention Centre’s West Building.
A selection of his intricately crafted bowls and sculptural pieces can be found at the SwitzerCultCreative Showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.
Having grown up in the picturesque Haliburton region of Ontario, Andres was indirectly influenced by his uncle, celebrated Canadian abstract painter Jaan Poldaas. After moving to Calgary he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from ACAD and a Board of Governors Award for glass in 2007.
“I always loved the genre of graffiti – still do,” he laughs, “but I grew out of that as I entered art school in 2003 and then happened upon glass-blowing and that consumed my focus.”
Without knowing the exact source of his deep-seated inspiration, Andres began obsessively using the technique of coiling clear glass in a sedimentary building method. But it wasn’t until he attended the JamFactory’s Associate Training programme in Adelaide, Australia from 2009 to 2015, that he realized the huge impression that stratified rock had on his work. Perhaps inadvertently, the country’s rugged landscapes also made a subliminal impact on the glassblower and helped shape his aesthetic.
“My vessels became much more sculptural. It’s not about the motif of rock itself but more what they represent. I think rock faces are some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring surfaces in the world because they depict time in a physical sense,” he explains. “Shortly thereafter I saw a documentary on ice cores and realized that I had also been making similar pieces in the hot shop – long elongated cylinders of coils. Like the rings of trees and layers of rock sediment, ice cores can date back thousands of years. My jaw dropped! I realized my work is ultimately about nature and in reverence to repetitive growth.”
All of Andres’ pieces are textured, often using rich jewelled hues as a base over which he wraps coiled clear glass. His Axis Bowls incorporate wind-swept swirls that sit at a slight tilt while Ruby Sentinal is a tall, sensually-shaped bud vase or sculptural decorative object.
Andres has been exploring the more traditional technique of using canes and tiles to create more patterned forms in glass. “Everything around us is speeding up. Recently, my work uses both sedimentary and, what I perceive as its opposite, accelerated textures. By that I mean, when a pattern is drawn to a point, that is a physical representation of acceleration.”
When not teaching classes at Terminal City Glass and working on his own projects and commissions, Andres has been blowing glass for three years for BOCCI, Omer Arbel’s contemporary design and manufacturing company for sculptural lighting based in Vancouver with a showroom in Berlin.
He has also been experimenting with his own lighting designs. Lumen resembles a glacial ice core sculpted in the hot shop and carved to a smooth finish in the cold shop. It’s mounted on a triangular piece of timber which suggests the object’s shadow. Andres hopes to bring it into production in the future as a sconce or table lamp.
“I fell in love with making glass and one of the reasons I moved to Vancouver was because it’s more of a fledgling glass market here. It’s also an industrial design hub for makers to grow their business in an affluent city that appreciates hand-made work.”