Raven Skyriver’s pieces start out like most other pieces in the hot shop: a blob of molten glass on the end of a pipe, a bubble, the whole thing constantly rotating to remain on center. The glass moves from the bench to the glory hole and back; it gets marvered, colored frit is added. But somewhere along the way, the piece morphs into something different and truly impressive. For one thing, Raven works large—his off-hand sculpted pieces are often a full two or three feet long, some closer to four. For another, he succeeds at an impressive realism in his sculptures. The finished pieces are not simply a whale or a shell, but rather a sperm whale or an abalone shell complete with the coloration and subtleties of shape that distinguish one species from another.
“My work is almost exclusively derived from the marine ecosystem,” Raven explains. “I attempt to place the creatures back in their environment by capturing the fluid nature in molten glass and transferring it into the perceived weightlessness of a swimming creature. I always strive to imbue the work with a hint of life.” Indeed, each of his pieces is evidence of his keen and dedicated observation—from the detailed patterns and textures of a turtle’s back or the scales of a salmon to each creature’s movements and personality.
There’s an intensity to Raven’s hot shop process quite in contrast to the serene beauty of his finished pieces. To make Gyre, his 28-inch green sea turtle, Raven worked with a whole team of skillful glass artists, each one spinning, paddling, rotating, holding, directing, and responding in concert. No fewer than three torches heat the turtle’s fins, tail, and neck while Raven, in the middle of it all, works with expert speed and skill to incise a crease here or elongate an eyelid there. The mounting tension is palpable as he meticulously draws out the turtles’s likeness from the molten glass. It becomes plain that Raven’s work really is a team effort, and any slip or misstep could send the whole endeavor crashing to shards on the floor. (Watch Gyre come together in this awesome video!)
“The nature of glassblowing is teamwork,” Raven states. “The process in the hot shop is my biggest passion.”
We’re thrilled that Raven will be at Penland this spring to share that process and his expertise in the hot shop with Penland students. His 1-week workshop Asymmetry will run April 22-28 and will give experienced glass students new insight into sculpting out of round, working effectively with a team, and addressing technical challenges. See the complete workshop description below and then register now to up your glass game.
April 22-28, 2018
This hot glass workshop will be all about sculpting out of round. We’ll focus on team work, timing, and problem solving on the fly, giving students a foundation on which to build intricate asymmetrical forms and teaching them how to overcome technical obstacles. If you are someone who works on symmetrical forms and you want to change it up, or if you simply want to sharpen your hot sculpting skills, this workshop has a lot to offer. Advanced level: your application must be accompanied by a CV detailing your experience in glass and five images of your work. Send these to email@example.com. Studio fee: $40. Code S03GA
Studio artist; teaching: Pilchuck (WA), The Studio at Corning (NY), Niijima Glass Center (Tokyo), Glass Furnace (Turkey), Aya Glass (Japan); exhibitions: Glasmuseet Ebeltoft (Denmark), Island Museum of Art (WA), Maryhill Museum of Art (WA), multiple solo shows at Stonington Gallery (Seattle).