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I Really Like Focusing on the Tiny Details
April 15, 2011 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Kiva Ford is an incredibly talented glassblower. By day, he creates custom scientific glassware for research and discovery chemistry. In his off hours, he creates artistic glass pieces that are both lovely and impossibly small.

In addition to miniature rayguns and miniature vases, he also makes some of the smallest klein bottles you've ever seen (eat your tiny heart out, Cliff Stoll).

More photos of his work are available on his Facebook page and his website (flash). Though it requires a bit of clicking, the images of his "animal series" pieces are particularly impressive.

Recently profiled on Etsy, Kiva Ford is a proud member of the American Scientific Glassblower Society. Oh, and he used to be a professional juggler, too.

[via Ektopia]
posted by avoision (32 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoa, I know the filmmaker. Good to see some cred on the Mefi.
posted by fungible at 7:18 AM on April 15, 2011


Man, the jobs you find out about AFTER you've sunk so much time and effort into education for something entirely different. I hear it's really hard to get an apprenticeship as a glassblower though, so I resigned myself to just being content ordering elaborate glassware for my lab. Some day, though...
posted by lizbunny at 7:25 AM on April 15, 2011


This guy exists at the cosmic intersection of geek and hippie.
posted by Brackish at 7:32 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and he used to be a professional juggler, too.

I read that as "professional juggalo".
posted by dubold at 7:34 AM on April 15, 2011


This guy exists at the cosmic intersection of geek and hippie.

It's too bad, if he was just a bit more off to the hippie side we could get some awesome pipes.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2011


Fantastic. And beautiful! Thanks avoision.
posted by Ahab at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2011


Those are some pretty funky machines & torches he's using. Keen.

(I was *this* close to buying the little heart, but there's no fucking way I'm joining Etsy. Dammit, grr.)
posted by aramaic at 7:41 AM on April 15, 2011


Somewhere in a mousehole, a diminutive figure in a tattered and stained labcoat raises a fist clenched in triumphant rage:

"So you thought your little potion would put me out of the way for good, eh, Dr. Thorkel? Well, now that I have access to quality lab glassware, vengeance will be MINE!"
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:45 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


*vaporization not guaranteed.

And a sense of humor, too!
posted by SLC Mom at 7:48 AM on April 15, 2011


The only way I can wrap my brain around the scale of some of these is to assume that the guy's got ENORMOUS hands.
posted by schmod at 7:48 AM on April 15, 2011


(looks at 'artistic glass pieces')

What is this??? A CENTER FOR ANTS!?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was taught glassblowing by a father-son team. They make a living making scientific glass which truly is a dying art. The video touches on the numbers a bit, but it's really incredible. If you're at all interested in glassblowing please find someone to teach you - it's wonderful.
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Roads not taken, odinsdream. Gave me a pleasant flashback to one of my first jobs. It was for a helicopter company (logging mostly) but their warehouse space at the airport shared space with a scientific glassblowing company. We used to pop in to their workshop for a glass of water (distilled of course, from one of the line of distillers they made) and chat with the owner or the other guy who was always there. It was a place of wonder. Why did I not just ask for a job or beg to learn the craft? Later when I worked with CRTs there was a LOT of glasswork, although nothing so sweet as either the scientific glassblowing nor as artful as those miniatures. The "glass guys" were still a special breed, though. Loved this post.
posted by cairnish at 8:08 AM on April 15, 2011


Glassblowers have a pretty long history of doing incredible things. The Blaschka brothers' glass flowers and marine invertebrates are well known among glassblower incredibilia.
posted by jfuller at 8:12 AM on April 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really want one of those hearts! I wonder if he can do anatomically incorrect hearts, say one with D-TGA or HLHS.
posted by TedW at 8:26 AM on April 15, 2011


I really enjoyed that film, except for this line:

"...that's what's unique about glass, that it never has a crystalline structure."

It just struck me as weird. I mean, that's the definition of glass, and glass is an obsolete term for "amorphous solid." It wasn't a factually incorrect statement so much as a statement of the obvious with a sense of wonder.

That's what's unique about ice, that it floats in water instead of sinking.
posted by explosion at 8:52 AM on April 15, 2011


these are def beautiful, but as far as 'impossibly small'...you should take a trip to venice...there was the one shop...OMG, they had life size glass ANTS. and octopi that were not much bigger....oh...and one shelf that was just NSFW.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:55 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> That's what's unique about ice, that it floats in water instead of sinking.
> posted by explosion at 11:52 AM on April 15 [+] [!]

duck!
posted by jfuller at 9:25 AM on April 15, 2011


The Blaschka brothers' glass flowers and marine invertebrates are well known among glassblower incredibilia.
I actually work in the building where that collection is kept. They are indeed absolutely stunning.
posted by peacheater at 9:33 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


By which I mean the invertebrates. The glass flowers are at Harvard.
posted by peacheater at 9:35 AM on April 15, 2011


(not to get too far off topic, but...) the blaschka brothers? did they do the glass microorganisms at the AMNH in New York? (originally in the downstairs lobby, now on display in the "hall of biodiversity")
posted by sexyrobot at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2011


I've been a fan of Kiva Ford since I found his miniature scientific glassware on etsy. His stuff is so beautiful and amazing and technical, and the way he talks about glass just makes me all tingly, like when we used to climb the ropes in gym class. I have a thing for science-nerd artists.
posted by sarahnade at 10:25 AM on April 15, 2011



While scientific glassblowing may be disappearing as newer manufacturing methods and materials are invented, traditional glassblowing is most certainly not. If anything, interest in glassblowing is increasing. New shops are opening all the time, and the technical sophistication and experimentation going on in the world of hot glass is on the up and up.

Unfortunately, most people end up wanting to make bongs and pipes or bad Chihuly knock offs (because, alas, that's what sells).

If you want to see some truly awe inspiring work check out William Morris. The dude uses acids and all sorts of chemistry to create textures and colors in his work that are out of this world. I have seen work that I SWORE was wood or bone or fabric until you touch it and realize it has the unmistakeable feel of blown glass.

Or, take a look at Josh Simpson. A lot of these glassblowers find that they get really popular for one particular kind of piece (a la Chihuly) and use that one thing (Simpson has his planets/paperweights) to finance all sorts of wild experimentation. I've visited Josh's studio and when he isn't making giant paperweight planets (which are still cool) the guy is making all his own colors and glass formulas from scratch to produce things reminiscent of asteroids or the insides of nuclear reactors (not to mention that his wife is an astronaut).

Or, if you want mindblowing formalism check out Dante Marioni. Or Italian glassmaster Lino Tagliapietra. Both of them are veritable rockstars (err...silicastars?).
posted by ghostpony at 10:36 AM on April 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


It just struck me as weird. I mean, that's the definition of glass, and glass is an obsolete term for "amorphous solid." It wasn't a factually incorrect statement so much as a statement of the obvious with a sense of wonder.

That there should be such things strikes me as a potentially appropriate object of wonder.
posted by kenko at 10:49 AM on April 15, 2011


Wow, those are some beautiful tiny bongs.
posted by wcfields at 11:00 AM on April 15, 2011


WANT DRAGON GOBLET!
posted by supermedusa at 11:39 AM on April 15, 2011


Or, take a look at Josh Simpson.
From his page:
I am fascinated with clear glass. Years ago, I made a series of crystal sculptures that were meant to be illuminated in helium neon laser light. These pieces utilized large trapped air bubbles to magnify the brilliant laser light; the air bubble became a lens. Unfortunately these pieces were never exhibited because of potential eye damage from the reflected laser
I love the combination of "YEAH AWESOME!!!" and "aw.. sadface" that you get by reading that. "Yes, I made some awesome things, unfortunately the puny human eye..."
posted by odinsdream at 12:06 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, this part of his site is really splendid:
In 1976 ... I began to hide planets... Once I learned to fly, I was able to drop planets in truly remote locations from a tiny window on the pilot's side of the plane.
...
over 1,700 participants have hidden planets in locations around the globe.
...
I hope future archaeologists will be confused about the meaning and purpose of the little spheres, wondering what they are and how they got there.
posted by odinsdream at 12:16 PM on April 15, 2011


Man, the jobs you find out about AFTER you've sunk so much time and effort into education for something entirely different. I hear it's really hard to get an apprenticeship as a glassblower though, so I resigned myself to just being content ordering elaborate glassware for my lab.

I read about this exceptionally talented & successful glass blower who made it completely on his own. He purchased a plot of land out in the middle of Nowhere, Vermont for peanuts. The land had a single shack on the property. He then spent another small chunk of money on an oven and basically lived like a hermit in this tiny shack out in no-man's-land until he had mastered his craft.

So what I'm saying is, you can totally do it if you want to. But you have to really want to in order to deal with the inevitable sacrifices.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:30 PM on April 15, 2011


Whoa, I know the filmmaker. Good to see some cred on the Mefi.

It must be something about this thread, then. Kiva was a year ahead of me in highschool. I remember him as a goofy trombone player who used his juggling skills for busking.
posted by tylermoody at 1:21 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> The Blaschka brothers' glass flowers and marine invertebrates

Sorry, small correction. Not brothers, father and son.
posted by jfuller at 1:57 PM on April 15, 2011


I need to learn lampworking. I love love LOVE glass art, especially stuff like this.
posted by exlotuseater at 4:07 PM on April 15, 2011


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