Glass and light share a long history in art. In ancient times, glass was used to mimic rare gems, its preciousness was important enough to be mentioned in the Bible (Job 28: 17). Glass’ ability to absorb, redirect, and reflect light on the intense coloured surfaces of the imitated stones played a major role. Much later in Europe, glass was cut and painted, and arranged to convey stories. Church windows used the light that transmitted through the massive windows to convey didactic stories that were painted on glass panels. In contemporary art, light is used to encapsulate and create an illusion of tangible space, defining negative spaces that become the object itself. The renown Czech artists Stanislav Libenský (1921-2002) and Jaroslava Brychtová (1924-) discovered that through negative modeling a new conception in sculpting with glass could be developed; and light became an essential component on the creation of narratives within sculptures itself.
This year, as a Collaborating Partner of the International Year of Light 2015, Berlin Glas e.V. will be organizing the workshops in its youth programme – Kids Blow Glas – to focus on light, glass and art.
Glass has inherent properties and its expressive potential is vast. Our youth programme started in 2012, reaching out to offer workshops in glassblowing to youths between the age of 12 and 19. We work with other youth organizations in Berlin, as well as high schools. The programme does not limit itself to learning a new, exciting craft, but aspires to teach kids to work in teams, to communicate and ultimately give them a sense of belonging and build their confidence. With the International Year of Light happening, we will focus on the multitude of features associated with glass, its physical properties, and ways of using light as a way to create and express concepts, such as Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová had done. The Czech pair worked with molds, casting the glass. Kids Blow Glas is focused on glassblowing; therefore, we shall approach light a little differently.
Our first workshop in March will bring a neighborhood youth centre for a 5-day workshop. The kids begin by learning the basics about the hot-shop, handling the pipes, learning to approach and sit at the bench and keeping the glass hot. The furnace, which burns at 1,160 degrees Celsius, presents the first challenge: getting the glass onto the blow-pipe! We will then begin with paperweights, which involves gathering color on top of the clear glass collected from the furnace. How are these colored glass frits made and what happens to the color when they are hot and then eventually cool? How does the light affect the transparent glass? What is the difference between absorbed, refracted and reflected light? These are some of the questions we will discuss during the workshop!
 Wisdom an Excellent Gift of God…16: It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, In precious onyx, or sapphire. 17: “Gold or glass cannot equal it, Nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold. 18: “Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; And the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls.…
Nadania Idriss is the executive director of Berlin Glas e.V. Originally from California, she moved to Berlin in 2005, following 7 years at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. She has a specialisation in Middle Eastern Art and is a Phd Candidate in Art History at Free University in Berlin. She discovered glass in the mid 2000s at Pilchuck Glass School, and in 2009 she founded Berlin Glas e.V. to offer hot glass for artists and the general public.