KOCHI: One day, Hasna Sal visited a local chapel at Mumbai as a young school student when she noticed how the light streamed beautifully through the stained glass on top of the building, and spread into a wonderful hue of white and yellow.“They say, what you learn and observe at a young age leaves an indelible mark in your life. That is the effect my visit to the chapel had on me,” said Hasna, a US-based glass sculptor.Though Hasna, who is originally from Kochi, studied architecture, it was her stint at the architecture school in Boston which brought her closer to her passion: glass.
And while teaching at the University of Kansas in 2002, she found out that many students would keep asking her questions about glass and how its addition to monuments and buildings had the ability to bring about an overall change to the architecture. “It prompted me to go deeper into its science and learn how important glass is to architecture. The more I learnt, the more I fell in love with the concept. Soon, I gave up my job as a teaching faculty to become a full-fledged glass sculptor artist,” she said.
But being a glass sculptor is not easy. This profession has its risks. “Every day, I handle glass, at 1400-1700 degrees heat, when it is melted at the furnace in my studio. You need to know at exactly what temperature glass becomes brittle. If you are not careful, it can break at high temperatures and you could end up cutting yourself. If you cut glass improperly then you are creating structural weak points on the surface which are not apparent to the human eye but it will shatter the glass in the kiln. The first few years of sanding, drilling, grinding and cutting glass were tough, tedious, messy and fraught with all sorts of catastrophies,” she said.
Hasna also learnt the various processing methods of glass from international sculptors. So, she studied glassblowing from Davide Penso of Italy, silkscreening from Tony Glander in Baltimore, Murrinos from Tatyana Bariknova of Russia, glassframing from Ansuh Choi of China. Her works have been exhibited internationally.
Over the years, Hasna has specialised in making glass sinks, which is selling quite well in the US. Most of the glass is purchased from Italy. “The sinks are mostly custom-made and I do it based on the demands of my clients. One of my clients, who loved trekking in the forests, told me that she wanted a green sink. In affluent families in the US, bathroom sinks are quite an ornamentation and people are willing to spend because that is the first place they are headed to in the mornings. I had another client, who wanted her sink to be an ocean blue, which I made specifically for her,” said Hasna.
The artist’s speciality is in the use of colours. “I feel many architects shy away from colour, because they are not very sure of how to mix colours well. I believe colour on glass has not yet been explored much which is why I specialised in them,” she said. One of her major frustrations as a glass artist was not finding enough colours in the market that she could use. “I had no liberty to create my own set of colours. As an artist, this was unacceptable. Therefore I decided to change track and follow the ‘fuser’s’ path. Glass fusing gave me the freedom to create my own colours and patterns, and this opened up a world of possibilities for me,” she said.