FROM GEOMETRIC THROUGH DECORATIVE TO SYSTEMS IN GLASS STONE WHEEL ENGRAVING.
BY Maciej Dyszkiewicz
Stone wheel engraving, the technique which reflects precision ,the best of all the glass engraving techniques.
In a traditional sense this technique and its designs speak of geometry, where the quality of cuts is the virtue.
Only flawless cuts will bring the maximum brilliance to the cut and polished surfaces. The technique is also about contrasts, especially texture contrasts. In fact this quality awakens the single most important thing about glass, the optics.
All my engraved work aim at these qualities as well as go beyond the traditional approach. For the most part stone wheel engravers deal with clear glass, The only way to express contrasts between cut
areas was through textures and form. Blowing my own glass I made the color as important as the engraving. With these tools the possibilities seem endless, having all these varieties makes it very easy to wander through designs without a path. It took me about seven years exploring engraving with different colour applications before
I came up with something, what I call, a system.Being trained as a traditional
glass stone wheel engraver and learning to blow my own glass, I had to come to terms with colours, and how to apply them so I can fully use my engraving skills. I wanted to develop
a system where with every piece I could go a step further with my engraving, because the colour, especially its controlled placement allows for it.
After trying the most common, the overlay technique, I came to a conclusion that the most exciting multi coloured (colour bar) overlay variations are so different with every single blowing that there was no chance of engraving continuity from one piece to the following one.
Shards seemed to be a solution . Also the most neutral shapes, circles and ovals, I thought were logical choices.
The only thing now left was to find the colour combinations, and let the imagination do the rest.
To someone unfamiliar with the stone wheel engraving technique I should explain that colour obscures the vision for the engraver while working. Perfection of line is much easier achieved on clear glass, when you see the wheel cutting, while you apply the glass to it. The stone wheel engraver experiences the most freedom on the top of the wheel.
How do you see when your glass is coloured? especially with the opaques.
The shards helped me in that matter. I could apply them in different distances, so I could see my cutting between the patches of opaque colour.
At first, the patches were apart and quite unrelated, the cutting did the most of the connections.
My first series "Dmuchawce" - the action of spreading the seeds, the floating of seeds in the wind ( in Polish)
" Dandy-lion" ( in English) was still a search.
A search for colour variations and relations, and although I new I could relate those patches with the engraved design, but if I could do it with both ways (relations of coloured areas being the other) I could achieve more unity.
At the same time I was interested in more sculptural work where I could add and explore deeper, the relief cutting.
"Birds" was my next series. As always in my work again here optics play one of the most important roles, it is
almost a natural approach with the stone wheel engraving technique.
With this series I had to change the position on the grinding wheel. Closed forms are mostly cut underneath
the wheel, otherwise you couldn`t see most of the things you`re doing on the wheel.
This position on the wheel is ideal for faceting (large areas of cut away glass, most of the time polished to create
the optical areas) common best known example-diamonds with polished shiny facets.
For a while it kept me going , the open vessels from the series " Dmuchawce" where the curved lines
would dominate as they could be manipulated and observed through the opening of the vessel .
The other normal way of observing the engraving process would be through both walls of the vessel with the condition that the transparent colour isn`t too dark.
I couldn`t use this way as I sandblast the walls before the cutting to make the fine cuts appear better on the frosty texture.
If I did it after cutting , I would have to mask every single cut to preserve its satin texture, which stands in good contrast with the sandblasted surface.
The curved lines of series "Dmuchawce" were combined with optical cuts which allow to see the interior or the other side of the vessel.
With closed forms, the series "Birds" I satisfied my need to work more sculpturally with high reliefs and faceting.
Working underneath the wheel, as I said, forces the stone wheel engraver to a lesser freedom with the line as he can`t observe his progress through the opening of the vessel.
Under the wheel there is less freedom and less perfection (stone wheel engravers take a lot of pride in the perfection of the cut) , that concerns mostly curved lines.
In a way this limitation was a welcomed factor as it gave a bolder look to the "Birds".
If I used lines they were mostly straight.
Going through variations of positioning the shards, I noticed more and more my tendencies to bring them closer together as if I wanted almost to mix them or have an immediate sense of relation between them.
Finally they started to touch each other and have an impact on shaping the neighbouring shard during the blowing.
Sometimes they would group and create some sort of a mechanism where inner forces were pushing, lifting, pulling up and down and from side to side.
That`s how the new series "Systems & Mechanisms" was born.
The uncertainity, how much it was me deciding the final positioning of shards, and how much the colour, the patches pushing and shaping each other, makes situation less predictable.
The engraving is the refining tool to further the connection between shards
I thought about symbiosis in nature where organisms feed of each other and benefit.
I wanted the human presence in the system of coloured patches, but it suppose to be a symbiotical presence.
The forms, the shards created were not alive enough, after the vessel cooled down.
To awaken them back to life , it was to create some vehicles for the movement.
Gears, pulleys, conveyers, elevators. But how to agree nature and the human world?
Man made mechanisms rarely go hand in hand with nature.
Nevertheless, I'm attempting the idealized situation , the symbiosis between the machine and nature.
As we intrude more and more into our surrounding with different technologies, creating new species, polluting the environment, struggling with noise, stress and the speed of life , we often express our doubts and recall with nostalgia the times of clean air and water.
We long for quite tranquillity, where being surrounded by old silent buildings, or walking through forests, where nature sounds are the only music.
The series "Birds - Architectural" are my escapes to the idealistic world, where we live
with nature in harmony.
The vessels from this series are neither birds nor buildings. I bring vocabulary from both worlds and I fuse one into the other, again word symbiosis comes to my mind, but only in the first stage of designing parts have to assimilate into each other . After that, they`re one.