The art of blown glass takes on new meaning in Matthew Szösz’s Inflatables series. About 15 years ago, the artist was interested in challenging assumptions about how the material could be worked and what form it could take. “In the craft and design field, the way that we make things has a profound effect on what we make,” he tells Colossal. “Blown glass and thrown pots are round; houses and furniture are rectangular. I spend a good portion of my time experimenting with process to try and use a new way of making to create new families of objects and forms.” The resulting sculptures capture a playful tension between fragility and strength, ephemerality and durability.
Using glass panes or sheets from salvaged windows, Szösz carefully plans the shape of the final form and cuts numerous pieces that are measured to slightly overlap so that when fused together, they create tight seams. Ceramic fiber paper separates the layers to prevent the material from sticking to both the kiln and itself. At 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the piece is swiftly removed from the kiln and inflated, balloon-like with compressed air. The glass is malleable for only about a minute at most before it cools to a hard object. “There is very little shaping that can be done during the inflation, so the process relies entirely on the preparation of the material,” Szösz explains. “Once you pull it out to inflate it, what you get is what you get.”