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Raven Skyriver


p resen t ed by s t oning t on ga l l ery

R av e n


...doesn’t work in half measures. When he completed his largest piece to date in 2013--a blue whale clocking in at 51” long and 51 pounds--he could have decided to let that record stand. After all, it was one of the largest pieces blown in the Museum of Glass Hotshop, and took a team of ten people many hours to blow. But this young maestro isn’t interested in resting in his laurels: like the whales and salmon that he renders in glass, he is always moving forward, searching. Therefore, in this 2014 exhibit he debuts blown glass creatures that are even larger and more technically difficult to achieve--all while being impossibly graceful and seeming lighter than air. Glassblowing is one of the most physically taxing forms of art-making, requiring laser-like focus in an environment that is hot, busy, noisy, full of moving team-mates, and hazardous materials. Working in tandem with a team requires that the lead artist is precise, articulate and have perfect timing: a ring-master of in a ring of fire. To keep all of these factors in mind while focusing on the exact angle of a salmon’s delicate fin, the arc of a diving whale’s back, and the proportions of a walrus’ head and body is nothing short of astonishing.

Above: Raven Skyriver shapes a gather of glass with a pad of compressed newspaper at a blow at PRATT in Seattle. Left: Hand-torches keep the heat on a humpback whale. Photos by kp studios.

In this catalogue we are proud to present the works debuting in Skyriver’s fourth solo exhibition, Descent, as well as a more detailed look at the process behind the artwork. Look at the process photos--full of blurred motion, hands moving, muscles straining, flame whooshing--and then consider the images of the finished sculptures. They seem to float serene and silent in the void, worlds away from the frenzy that gave them form. Skyriver invites us to descend to a calm place where we can contemplate the perfect lines of these bodies, and where we can be continually amazed at the processes--both human and natural--that make these creatures possible.

bryde’s (bryde’s whale) Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted & Cold-Worked Glass, Metal Stand 21”h x 40”w x 9”d $12,300

huntress (steller’s sea lion) Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted and Sandblasted Glass, Metal Stand 38”h x 16”w x 18”d $12,900

return (king salmon) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Foil, Metal Stand 20.25”h x 32”w x 7.75”d $14,900

process & technique: s i lv e ry s c a l e s

1. Silver foil is laid onto a small gather of molten glass.

4. Rolling the gather on the marver, a heat-absorbing surface.

5. The foil breaks up as the glass is manipulated.

2. Silver powder is sifted onto the gather.

6. Flame from a hand-torch fuses fin to body.

3. Raven directs a flow of clear glass over the foil and color.

7. Flashing the fish in the furnace keeps the glass malleable. Images by the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA.

process & technique: quenching To achieve the life-like texture of the walrus’ skin, Skyriver dips the gather of molten glass briefly into water. This quenching process contracts the glass, forming a skin of cooler glass on the surface that looks like fine, leathery lines. The bumpy skin on this walrus signifies that it is a bull--or male--walrus.

morsa (walrus) Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted, Sandblasted Glass 12”h x 16”w x 29”d $11,600

process & technique: risky business Blowing glass is not for the faint of heart: a sculpture you’ve sweated hours on can be lost in the blink of an eye. The glob of glass affixing a piece to the pipe might give out under its weight and size. A second too long out of the furnace could cool down the glass and shatter it. A teammate might miss the catch when the completed work is cracked off the pipe. And just when you thought you were safe, it might even explode in the annealer if it cools unevenly. Like salmon swimming upstream to their spawning place, many sculptures don’t survive, making those that do even more rare and special. The image at left shows one of the most heart-stopping moments during a blow: transferring the glass from pipe to pipe. The whale’s head has been fully sculpted, but in order to form the tail, it must be disconnected from the pipe at the back, and re-attached at the head. The teammate on the left (Niko Dimitrijevic) has created a new attachment near the head to hold the piece, which Skyriver (seated) tests with his jacks. Skyriver will then pour cold water onto the glass at the tail--making a brittle seam--and crack the glass off the pipe. If the new attachment at the head is strong enough, he can sculpt

Museum of Glass hotshop manager Ben Cobb catches

the tail and fins.

the whale as it is cracked off the punty. He will run it into

If not...the team takes a break, and starts all over again.

the annealer for gradual cooling. Images by the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA.

descent (blue whale) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 24”h x 52”w x 20”d $24,000

Raven Skyriver is--in my opinion--one of today’s master artists, and I don’t throw that over-used epithet around willy nilly. His work is so far and above that of anyone working in glass, and is possibly the finest artist of that medium today. -duane pasco

process & technique: pat t e r n s i n p o w d e r

Teammate Meg White draws a pattern in colored powder before the blowing begins. The powder rests on a steel plate, which will later be heated up so that the powder matches the temperature of the molten glass.

The gather of glass is rolled over the pattern, picking it up like putty on newspaper. As the gather is shaped, the pattern will stretch and elongate into the coloration seen in harbor seals.

In one hand Skyriver works with shears, pulling and cutting the seal’s back flippers. In the other he uses a pad of compressed newspaper for shaping and holding the molten glass--it is the closest he comes to actually touching the medium.

Skyriver shapes the face while the glass is hot and malleable. He uses hand-tools such as tweezers, scissors and jacks. The glass must be kept at an even temperature, and is flashed in the furnace constantly to prevent cracking. Skyriver and his team must work quickly and precisely in short windows of time while the glass is in the open air. A piece of this size might take three or four hours of constant heating, moving, shaping, fire-polishing and coloring to complete. It then needs days of controlled cooling in the annealer to be brought to room temperature. Skyriver (at left) prepares to attach a flipper to the seal’s body. The sculpture is attached to the pipe by a large blob of clear glass, which will be ground off once the piece has cooled. Images from a residency at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA. Videography by Derek Klein.

harbor (harbor seal) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Wall Bracket 21”h x 59”w x 14”d $9,500 this work is featured at the seattle aquarium july - september 2014

sift (grey whale) Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted, Engraved Glass on Metal Stand Cameo Engraving by April Surgent 13.5”h x 29”w x 7”d $8,900

process & technique: cold-working Once the glass has cooled it can be etched with acid, sandblasted, or carved. (Left) Seattle glass artist Ethan Stern holds one of Skyriver’s whales up to a cutting wheel, where he grinds out the ventral pleats on the whale’s chin and belly (above). This is done free-hand. Cold-working pieces this size and weight can be tricky: one slip and all those hours of blowing, annealing and grinding can be lost on the floor.

mariner (humpback whale) Off-Hand Sculpted, Blown & Cold-Worked Glass, Metal Stand 18”h x 31”w x 16”d $8,900

seeker (steller’s sea lion) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 44”h x 14”w x 20”d $12,900

sustain (sea otter with clam) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 16”h x 32”w x 9”d $8,800

dungeness (sea otter with crab) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 10”h x 24”w x 7”d $4,800

anticipate (western chorus frog) Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 16.75”h x 26”w x 6”d $2,800

delve (right whale) Blown, Off Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 22”h x 37”w x 12”d $11,900

northerner (narwhal) Blown & Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 21”h x 59”w x 14”d $17,500

shape shift Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted & Acid-Etched Glass 4.5”h x 7”w x 8.5”d

wise one (radiated tortoise) Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted Glass 5.5”h x 9.5”w x 6”d $4,900

master of disguise (halibut) Blown, Off-Hand Sculpted Glass, Metal Stand 6”h x 24”w x 12”d $6,800

Stonington Gallery 125 South Jackson St. Seattle, WA 98104 206.405.4040 / Open Daily | located in seattle’s historic pioneer square All Work by Raven Skyriver Photos of sculptures: kp studios Catalog Design, introductory essay & captions: Sarra Scherb Š 2014 Stonington Gallery

Raven Skyriver - Descent 2014 @ Stonington Gallery  

(C) Stonington Gallery 2014. All Artwork by Raven Skyriver (Tlingit).

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