Glass Bread Slices!

Glass bread slice © J. Thomson

I was a graduate student in the Glass department at Tyler School of Art, 1998-2000. During my first year there, I became interested in the theme of domesticity… and what’s more domestic than bread? Initially I made a sculpture out of wax and clay of an over-sized slice of bread. I lovingly poked each hole in the bread to make a realistic texture. Then I made a mold of it using a plaster-like refractory material in which I poured molten glass from the hot shop. While this worked really well, it was too time consuming and I could only get a single glass piece from each mold (since the glass sticks to the mold material, and has to be broken apart to get the glass out.) And I needed to produce more pieces (per my professors).

So I ended up making a wooden mold—essentially a plank of wood (soaked in water so it didn’t catch fire) with a bread-slice-shaped hole in the middle. For each slice I made, I lined the inside of the cavity with some material for texture, in this case lead shot and sand, and ladled molten glass into the mold. Using this method, I could crank out dozens of them in a single session in the hot studio.

I have to admit that I was looking for ways to make my glass uglier at the time… (I used the term “crunchy”). While all the undergrads, and some of the grad students were concerned with making pretty shiny happy glass, I was an Art student (with a capital A), not a student of crafts. Now I wish I had pushed it further. My hot hop partner A. J. Bocchino was making some beautiful “ugly” pieces, but I couldn’t afford all the copper and metals he was using.

These glass pieces came to light recently because an old friend of mine asked me if I still had any for sale. So I dug out the boxes from the back of my studio, photographed them, and now they’re available for sale again for the first time in more than ten years. $25 each includes shipping anywhere in the USA via USPS Priority Mail. Use the links below to order.

Wheat (sand)     Multigrain (shot)     Combo (sand+shot)

There are two kinds available: “wheat” bread (with a combination of sand and a little lead shot on the surface), and “multigrain” with lots of lead shot. They are just a little bigger than life size (about 6.5″ x 5″ x .5″ thick). The sand and/or shot is not glued to the glass in any way, so expect pieces of it to come off… I’ve seen them displayed on a wall, vertically on a shelf, or laid out horizontally on a table. Just be sure that the sand/lead shot won’t scratch the table surface you put them on.

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Subverted domesticity/Urban glass houses (2000)

Subverted Domesticity:Urban House © 2000-2013 J. Thomson

Because it was the first time I’d lived in an urban neighborhood (I grew up in suburban Dallas/Garland area) I was also interested in the cultural differences of what “home” means. And since I’d made all those suburban glass houses, I thought I’d better make some urban ones too. These houses are modeled after the traditional idea of “house” (ie, the silhouette a child might draw), but they get their urban grittiness from inclusions such as brass keys and pieces of aluminum, which would melt and burn when the molten glass was poured in the mold.

They were displayed on individual shelves I made (just big enough for one house) but grouped closely together like a neighborhood of row-homes in urban Philadelphia. Some of the houses were clear enough that I found I could make them more interesting by collaging images onto the back. I actually made more “plain” houses, but they didn’t photograph as well as the few that I embellished with vintage photographs on the back. All of the embellished houses were sold, but I still have a few of the regular urban houses available. If you’re interested in purchasing one, drop me a note.

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Subverted Domesticity/Suburban glass houses (2000)

Glass houses, © 2000 J. Thomson All rights reserved

For my final semester at Tyler, I focused my attentions on the theme of quiet desperation, or “subverted domesticity”. Using modular molds I made from solid graphite, I cast dozens of suburban houses (modeled after the one my parents still live in) and acid-etched the surface to give a satin light-diffusing effect. I then painted the bottoms of each house bright colors and patterns… the same way that the owners of the houses in the subdivision I grew up in paint the houses garish colors to make them stand out, since they’re all built on the same floorplans. Most of these have been sold, but I do still have a few left. If you’re interested in purchasing one, please contact me.

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Glassblower (1995)

Glassblowing, 1995 I studied glassblowing for seven years in college and graduate school. As an undergraduate, SIUC did not have a glassblowing major available to me at the time, so my degree is in painting and drawing, but most of my coursework was in glassblowing. I had to find ways to combine the two fields, and I ended up doing a lot of drawings (etching & engraving) onto the surface of blown glass pieces I made. (Contrary to this drawing, I did not blow glass in the nude.) Available in the gift shop here.

Here’s a couple of images of me from around 1995-1997, blowing glass at SIUC:

As a beginning glassblowing student, circa 1992-1997 Glassblowing, circa 1992-1997 On tour with the mobile glassblowing unit ("Aunt Gladys"), circa 1995-1997.