Art & Design Magazine

Mike Hunter- Modern Twist on Traditional Glassblowing Techniques

By Artscotland
What began as a childhood fascination for glass artist Mike Hunter became his self-taught profession. His work is proof of his dedication to the traditional techniques of the Italian masters and he is known for creating historically technical, gorgeous modern glasswork that has not been used commercially since the Victorian era. He describes his work as ‘…individual and contemporary blown vessels of elaborate adornment.’
Mike began his training as an apprentice at Wedgwood Glass of Kings Lynn, Norfolk from the age of seventeen. Even there the masters couldn’t answer his questions about the details of how some glasswork was made, and since then it became his mission to learn glassblowing techniques that would otherwise be lost through disuse. Mike views his experience in trial and error learning to have been invaluable to his current work. He said that ‘people’s conception of an artist usually revolve around some form of training’ but for him training is akin to restriction, and being self-taught he is able to set his own restrictions and limitations by what he can achieve in his work.
He now has his own studio, Twists Glass Studio, in Selkirk, which he opened in 1998. His favoured techniques involve cane-working, (working with rods of coloured glass) and he bases his pieces on the traditional designs of glassblowers from 16th and 17th century Italy and 18th century England. Through seven years of experimentation and dedication he has brought back the near lost technique of embedding coloured glass canes into the stems of glasses andMike Hunter- Modern Twist on Traditional Glassblowing Techniques tableware, such as these pieces in Artery Gallery.
He is also known for his use of zanfirico glassblowing, for which he has received numerous awards, including twice being named a finalist for the Glass Technology Award, among others, Zanfirico is an Italian decorative glassblowing technique involving intricate patterns of coloured glass canes arranged and twisted to comprise a pattern within a single glass cane. These new patterned canes are then used to create a glass work, such as the Zanfirico Vase displayed at Artery Gallery.
We have several pieces by Mike Hunter, as well as other glass artists, at Artery Gallery. Mike’s vases are consistently popular, especially his Zanfirico vasMike Hunter- Modern Twist on Traditional Glassblowing Techniquese, and his impeccable technique makes the colour appear to be floating, supported by clear glass. It is the zanfirico technique that gives the smooth glass vase a textured, woven appearance. Another of Mike’s eye-catching vases is his Murrine Vase, which is made of brightly coloured cross sections of canes, forming unique patterns on a smooth surface.
Glass art has the advantage of being both practical and beautiful by nature. At Artery we also have a selection of his glassware and other table art, including a variety of wine glasses, pitchers and decanters, all painstakingly handmade of the finest quality. His wine glasses are made with intertwined coloured rods forming the interior of the stems. Mike Hunter- Modern Twist on Traditional Glassblowing TechniquesAdditionally we have a collection of his Milli pieces, which is a term used to describe glass decorated with slices of coloured canes embedded in clear molten glass, which produces a distinctive decorative pattern of glassware that often resembles flowers. The Milli pieces displayed in Artery include tumblers, tall glasses as well as a pitcher, bright and summery, perfect for an outdoor party.
Knowing the techniques and the precision behind Mike’s glass work, one can better appreciate the handmade designs and patterns in each of his pieces. Pop in to Artery and have a look at Mike’s work. You may possibly find your own piece of traditional, modern glasswork.

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