Bottle, 'Unravelled', soda-lime glass/ ruby interior, blown by Benjamin Edols, wheel-cut by Benjamin Edols and Kathy Elliott, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1997
This bottle was blown by Bejamin Edols and the surface design was wheel cut by Benjamin Edols and Kathy Elliott, who have been working together since 1992. The first rough diamond cut was done by Ben, before Kathy finished the final cut and polish. The bottle is signed at the foot: Benjamin Edols. Kathy Elliott. Sydney. 1997; whichever of the two does most work on the decoration signs first. The 'Unravelled' bottle was blown in Robert Wynne's Denizen Glass Studio in North Manly, using a ruby 'Gaffer' glass from Giovanni Glass in Auckland, New Zealand, a company that entered the market in recent years. Prior to this, supplying colours for glass blowing was monopolised by German manufacturers.
Kathy Elliott graduated from Canberra School of Art in 1991, and Ben Edols from Sydney College in 1991 with a postgraduate diploma from Canberra in 1992. Elliott focussed on glass casting and Edols on glassblowing. Since graduation they have studied and worked regularly in the United States. While working in Corning in the USA in 1992, they used an access workshop that had blowing and engraving facilities. Having to make money somehow while they were there, they started to make their own collaborative works which were heavily informed by the Venini collection at the Corning Glass Museum that included blown and cut works.
Since then Kathy has done no casting, as the cost is prohibitive and because she became fascinated with the process of carving on blown works. Ben blows the glass, which is usually thicker than for uncarved pieces, sometimes working from a profile drawn by Kathy of a form she wants to work on. They use a soda-lime glass, with colours from for example Kugler or Zimmerman in Germany or the 'Gaffer' glass from Giovanni Glass in Auckland. The carving is done on a glass cutting lathe. The first cut with a rough diamond wheel is often done by Ben; the second cut is with a finer diamond wheel and the final finish is with a stone. Ben's designs are more even in their spacing while Kathy prefers a more uneven calligraphic line that might, for example, emphasise the belly or the neck.
Edols and Elliott have since moved on from their initial Venini-influenced work. However they liked the way horizontal striations made their pieces come alive, and continue to make works using this simple decoration. Ben also blows some works that are not carved. Regarding their more recent collaborative work, Kathy Elliott said in 1997, 'We are looking for more personal challenges. We are trying to get a synthesis between the pattern and the silhouette of the vessels, where there is a sympathy between form and surface. We want works that are elegant and beautiful - the bottom line is that they must be beautiful. We are also working with light and volume.' Both agree that working together in this way provokes each of them to challenges that separately they would not have considered. 'It pushes us out of our safety zone.'
Blown by Benjamin Edols, wheel-cut by Benjamin Edols and Kathy Elliott,
Exhibited at Glass Artists Gallery, 70 Glebe Point Road, Sydney, in 'Skin' exhibition, Oct28-Nov 26 1997. Featured on invitation.