I own a couple of these beautiful handblown goblets. Over the years I have given plenty of them as gifts. In 1988, when I moved to Penland, North Carolina, I met Judson Guerard, the hot glass artist who creates these magnificent pieces. Judson, his wife Sally and I have remained good friends for more than two decades! After numerous visits to their home and studio in Bakersville, NC I thought it was time to feature Judson's art work.
How did you get introduced to hot glass?
Well, the simple cute answer was that I didn't have a focus and [hot glass] it appealed to me. I liked the process and the work that you can make. This particular way just appealed to me. I took a weekend class at Blake Street Glass in Denver and I found the process was likable.
At what point did you make that transition from student to artist?
When I made those goblets. That's when I first felt that I had some potential. And even though I never took any art classes, I did have a background in aesthetics from grad school.
How do you describe your design aesthetics?
There are times I wonder what the hell they are (joking)! The underlying thing for me is there's a luminescence glass can have that I find very appealing. Its always elusive to find the form that it works together with so for me its the quality of light. The way it gets diffused and becomes mysterious and ethereal. Luminesce keeps me fascinated and engaged.
Tell me about the "Chaos" series.
They have a sculptural element. It was a way for me to do several different processes through glass than just making a vessel.
Is the universe ordered or chaotic? On one extreme, God manages everything. That's one extreme of understanding the world and the other extreme is that all the universe is random and that these are just a happen chance of molecules that create the world. I'm somewhere in between. Life is intelligible but there's also a randomness to how things occur. And so the vessels tend to have a round symmetrical shape while the surface tends to be more random and weathered looking with different textures. Chaos is my way of visually presenting the orderliness and randomness that's in the world.
Your current works, titled "River Rocks" go in a different direction than the Chaos series. Can you talk about them?
They're more emotive than thought driven. A French philosopher named
who said something to the effect that the challenge was to make new metaphors out of old metaphors. In a sense that's what these [glass] river rocks are... taking something as simple and primal as a worn river rock and in a sense making it precious by creating the image out of glass, giving it the desire to touch it. I also keep coming back to luminosity, the quality of light. Translating the meditative quality of watching, in a way, and abstracting the rocks themselves to light in form as they are when they are in the river.
Tell me one specific aspect about hot glass that appeals to you?
Fluidity... things that are liquid are fairly hard and frustrating [to work with]. The fluidity of glass appeals to me. When you can trap that fluidity and catch it spontaneously you get a real representation that transcends the simplicity of the action you're describing.
Judson designs a beautiful collection of ornaments. I've got mine on display year round!
The man behind the art, Judson Guerard at work. I gained a higher level of respect for the process after trying to blow glass during my visit. Anything but easy!
When I need to escape the "speed" of the city, this is where I go, Judson and Sally's home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Feeding the llamas! Not something I get to do everyday in Atlanta! They also have a dog, cats and reportedly, a mountain lion that prowls around the area!
If you're ever in the Western North Carolina region, think about visiting Guerard Glass. Judson is always working in the studio so chances are you'll catch him in action, blowing glass.