Simply Beautiful
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Michael RuhRuh: My physical surroundings provide the inspiration for my work. Some of my glass vessels are inspired by the delicate patterns on sandbars after the water has receded or the lines drawn into fresh snow by leafless, windblown shrubs. Similarly, the layered construc-tions of cocoons and wasp nests are reflected in the carved lines on the inner surfaces of my vessels, which leave a trail of shadow and light.

I call my sconces and pendants Squid lights, somewhat generically, because of the tube shapes. When I was in college, I worked in a ery shift, in addition to de-veining shrimp and all sorts of other delectable activities that go on in a kitchen. After I cleaned the squid, I would pile them up on a stainless steel tray, and all the squid tubes would be lying on top of each other. I think that must’ve been a pattern that stuck in my head for many years, and that’s how I started making the Squid lighting.

Michael Ruh’s blown-glass Squid lights
Michael Ruh’s blown-glass Squid lights are a prime example of his use of minimalist color and detail to create a complex, natural design statement. Ruh is currently looking for U.S. showroom representation.

I’ve tried to find the simplest way possible to embellish the glass I’m making without adding more glass trails or different speckles of color to it. I create textures on the inside of the glass vessels in the most minimalist fashion I can possibly think of: by scribing it with some special tools that I’ve made. When light passes through the vessels, the lines are barely visible, but they create a very distinct shadow.

The thing that’s especially exciting about the colored glass I use is its transparency. You’re able to see color, but you are also able to see through it. Glass holds color, yet it does not hold light. You can see color, and you can see light. My favorite colors are a cross between brick and burgundy; a champagne color; and a very light turquoise. I also love lime green and olive green.

I’ve been attracted to glass-blowing since I was a child. I saw a glass-blowing demonstration, and I got hooked. Many, many years later, I had the opportunity to take some glass-blowing lessons, and that was it. It was absolutely fascinating.

There’s nothing like the material in its molten state. It’s indescribable to see its movement: It’s how the material itself moves when it’s being manipulated that’s absolutely mesmerizing. A number of my friends who are glassmakers come over to the studio and just sit and watch me work, [and] watching people working with glass is also one of my favorite pastimes. There’s something about the material itself that is completely captivating. 

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