CHENNAI: Any art can be learnt if you have patience, passion and a will to practice, says Srinivasa Raghavan, a renowned glass blower in the city. While there are many glass sculptors who create glassware such as chandlers, goblets, lampshades and other glass souvenirs, Raghavan is one of the few artists in South India to make original glass sculptors.
“Glass making is similar to that of making bricks or pots. Only difference is the use of flame to make it! But even for bricks and pots, flame is used in the last stage of the process,” he says.
Recalling his journey in glass sculpting, Raghavan explains, “After completing high school, I took up Arts in college. Not knowing what specialisation to choose, I randomly opted for a glass blowing course and later started working for a pharma company as a glass blower where I used to make test tubes and conical flasks in the lab.”
But destiny had something else for him. The sheer monotony of making test tubes and lab apparatus left Raghavan restless and so he began sculpting glass figurines. During the course of time, he came across few like-minded artisans; after that there was no looking back. “When I had visited Hyderabad, I met a few traditional glass artisans who were into the business of making decorative perfume bottles that had intricate works on them. I was impressed with their work.”
Within few days, he began working with them and learnt the basics of this craft by just watching them.
Raghavan has been sculpting glass for over 20 years. He has created mundane glass rods with small designs, complicated glass sculptures such as bullock carts and chariots, and even multi-figured structures in a matter of minutes. How long does it take to make one sculpture?
“That depends on the intricacy of the design — some are made within seconds while others take hours,” he says who is inspired by the work of famous US-based contemporary glass artist, Roger Paramore.
Though fibre glass is a preferred choice with sculptors, Raghavan only uses borosilicate glass. “This material has flexible properties and the chances of the glass cracking are less,” he says.
Quiz him about the techniques of glass sculpting, the 50-year-old artist says glass is just like clay, and silica is a constituent of both. “The only thing is glass has no real melting point, it softens when its temperature changes. It is quite similar to free hand drawing,” he explains.
The focus of the workshop that Raghavan is conducting today is on the basics of glass moulding by using basic techniques. He will teach how to make sculptures using soft glass, and also demonstrate the various manipulative techniques.
“The best part of these workshops is you get to see enthusiastic people coming forward to learn and experiment with new art form. Sometimes even artisans turn up asking me to teach some new techniques,” he smiles but also sounds a word of caution.
“Unlike few years back, there are not many buyers these days. Unless you are a well-known artisan, it is difficult to sustain in this field for long.”
Srinivasa Raghavan’s workshop on glass sculpting is at Dakshina Chitra from 10.30 am onwards.
For details, call 24462435