Hot Glass Gallery, Art Glass Studio, On-Line Exhibition and Catalog

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Chris Heilman is a contemporary master of the centuries-old techniques of hand blown glass.

Like aquariums frozen in suspended animation his Coral Reef Sculpture Series captures the tranquility and timelessness of the deep. Brilliantly colored fish swim motionlessly through delicate seafans and clusters of coral. Each sculpture evokes a marine fantasia in glass.

"As all artists, my work is inevitably inspired by my life," says Heilman. "My Coral Reef Series evolves from my recent interest in scuba diving, which gives me the opportunity to express my fascination with the mysterious world of inner space, the coral reef. Myriad colors of encrusting sponges, design of coral colonies and detail of coral reef fish land opportunity to exciting new ways of personal expression and expansion of technique in the glass media. My intent lies in creating a complex tapestry of color Juxtaposed with design through layering of torchdrawn glass cane imagery."

The remarkable detail is achieved by using the traditional lampmaking and murrini techniques. Heilman spends a considerable amount of time pre-making the numerous band-pulled glass rods and canes, called murrini that are used to create the design elements inside each sculpture. The earliest known murrini were made around 1500 BC by the Egyptians.

Creating each sculpture himself, from initial design to final execution, Chris Heilman torch-melts the rods and murrini bits so that it is like "painting" with brilliantly colored molten glass layering each piece from the inside out, he sculpted a three dimensional underwater seascape. The final stage involves encasing the interior assemblage in clear molten crystal. Creating each piece can take up to five hours with the finished sculpture weighing from five to twenty pounds.

"I strive for authenticity," explains Heilman, "but I don't plan or sketch the pieces. It happens spontaneously. I make the actual fish I have seen, but I think technically of the colors together; the pieces, to me, are about color, about playing with color."

Heilman maintains his studio just south of Seattle. His sculptures have been exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the United States and are included in the permanent collections of the Portland Museum of Art, ME; The Museum of American Glass, NJ; and the Swarovski International Corporation in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1991 one of Heilman's sculptures was presented as a Spirit and Enrichment Award to Jacques-Yves Cousteau by the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida.

Read More About Chris...Article from Maine Biz® - June 1998

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© Chris Heilman Hot Glass
Renton Art & Glass Studio
211 SW 41st Street, Bld 9 Suite 211
Renton, WA 98057