Flanked by a material

by DH McNabb

     There is light.  It exudes from the lamp; shadows and reflections are cast upon the wall.  My eyes follow a blinking line, a cursor.  We have to name everything.  In making all things definitive what is left to define?


     The cursor blinks, my eyes glance through a material, my reflection is faint upon a screen.  A transdimensional occurrence is evident, the threshold between me and the blinking is proof.  The screen is flat and still except for the cursor and the words that follow.  My hands rummage at the bottom, scurrying to portray this as a cohesive thought.


     Making is about transference, from my eyes, to my brain and then executed through my hands.  I am a glassmaker so it’s not just about my eyes and brain and hands but those who collaborate with me, those I work for or with.


     Glass is a communicative endeavor, a struggle.   It’s not something you get in a year or five or ten.  It is about being an ambassador and a translator for a material.  The process of conveying and informing others through the making of glass things is at the forefront of a practice.  Action as statement, object as question.  What are these transferences?


     Material integrity: it’s not about what one can make but what one can expose.


     I reach for a glass.  It doesn’t matter if it is half full or half empty, I made it. Beer is fresher in the glass, the pouring from keg, pitcher, can or bottle releases the flavor. The frothy head floats, the bubbles too.  A liquid suspended in a liquid.


     I, you, we live in a Glass Age.  A reflective world where mirrors are not always present but a lens might be.  We have a necessity to communication, the interface is the material – think about the internet, think of your phone, think outside and through the window, be aware of the light that is on and above you.



For the 2300° at the Corning Museum of Glass I wanted to produce pieces that utilized the space.  Corning has a unique feature with the fused silica window in the glory hole, or reheating chamber.  The video camera that peers in through the window allows a view into this usually secluded space.  Thus rendering the happenings of the glory hole’s 2300 degree environment to the public through the use of overhead projection. By melting and cooking batch, the raw state of glass, and then making a small vessel out of it I am able to freeze and exhibit the process that yields the clear material that we are accustomed to.  Next I folded an airplane out of sheet glass, this shows the transferences of one material to another, paper to glass.  It is also reminiscent for me of learning to fold paper airplanes from my father on the air base he worked on when I was a kid.  Next I slumped a goblet that I made to show the slumping process.  This was witnessed by the audience through the use of the glory hole camera.  The cups contorting and flattening out was rendered observable.  Lastly, I made a cone and dipped fresh molten glass on it in order to show the materials rigid and organic capacity.

I greatly appreciated the help and support I received during this demonstration.  The most important thing I hope people can take home from this or any glass demonstration is that glass is a collaborative medium and a material that is essential to our everyday lives.

See more photos of DH at 2300°: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwRGzLT

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