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June 19, 2006

Glass Art Sinks

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Hand-blown glass sinks created by the Seattle Glassblowing Studio.

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Each sink — weighing 15 pounds, 1-inch-thick and 16 inches in diameter — is created by an eight-person team working in exquisite synchrony.

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It takes about 10 years to acquire enough expertise to become part of the team.

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Even so, the studio considers it a good day if they end with five sinks after starting eight.

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Katherine Salant wrote about the sinks, examples of which appear above and below, in an article which appeared in this past Saturday's Washington Post Home section; the relevant portion follows.

    Hand-Blown Sinks

    The bright red, green and purple hand-blown glass, vessel-styled sinks displayed by the Seattle Glassblowing Studio were a departure from the latest and the greatest in appliances, cabinetry and countertops offered by the other 900 exhibitors at the kitchen and bath show.

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    The Seattle Glassblowing Studio's hand-blown sinks -- as well as hanging pendant shades and wall sconces -- are made by 12 glass blowers. The sinks can be translucent or opaque, in one color or multicolored, with patterns ranging from "clouds" to spinning vortexes.

    As interesting to me as the sinks is the way they are made. Having seen a few glass blowers make smaller pieces such as bowls or bottles, I imagined the sinks to be the work of a single artisan. But, I learned, the Seattle glass blowers' 21st-century iteration of a 2,000-year-old craft -- a 15-pound, 1-inch thick, 16-inch diameter sink -- requires the careful coordination of an eight-person team.

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    Cyrena Stefano, a glass blower and a member of the sink-making team, explained that only one person actually blows the sink, while each of the other seven, in a carefully choreographed sequence, prepares and adds as many as four colored pigments at the right moment, shields hands and arms from the 2,400-degree molten glass, turns the blow pole, shapes the piece into a large oval that looks as big as a dinosaur egg, and guides it onto a punty (in layman's parlance, a stand). Then, using an instrument that resembles giant tweezers, one team member punctures the oval and, with a few quick circular turns, opens it into a finished sink.

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    At this point, the sink has cooled to a mere 960 degrees. It is then placed in the care of one team member, the "cold worker" who hovers over it for the next two days until the sink has cooled to room temperature and the drain can be installed.

    The process from molten glass to uncooled sink takes about an hour, Stefano said. Acquiring the expertise to make the sink, however, takes about 10 years. Even then, mishaps are not uncommon. On the days they blow sinks, they plan on eight starts, but if they end with five sinks, "it's been a good day," she said.

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    The studio offers seven sink collections, each in different colors. They can also match the color of a cloth swatch or tile. The sinks range in price from $1,900 to $2,600. A matching soap dish is $150.

June 19, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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Comments

I like these. Anyone wanting to know what to get me for my bday or Christmas ...would have to be one of these babies. Any color will do...well maybe not any color. I don't do the tortoise colors very well. But they would look spiffy with the new browns and sienna colors out for baths now. Oh well a gift is a gift...so no matter what color it comes in...=) btw...send the plumber too.

Posted by: Rhonda | Jun 20, 2006 9:23:14 AM

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