Paul M. Hollister Collection, The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass
Transcribed by Bard Graduate Center
Title: Paul Hollister Interview with Gary Beecham, November 14, 1981 (Rakow title: Gary Beecham interview [sound recording] / with Paul Hollister, BIB ID: 168599).
Gary Beecham, Interviewee
Paul Hollister, Interviewer
Location: Paul Hollister’s apartment, New York, New York
Skylar Smith, Transcriber
Barb Elam, Editor
Caleb Weintraub-Weissman, Summary
Duration: 38:44
Length: 23 pages

Note: This transcript is based upon an audiotaped recording that has been digitally converted. The recording is part of the Paul M. Hollister Collection at The Rakow Research Library at The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, and was transcribed at Bard Graduate Center, New York, New York, for the digital exhibition and archive Voices in Studio Glass History: Art and Craft, Maker and Place, and the Critical Writings and Photography of Paul Hollister. Usage requests for all or part of this transcript must be obtained from The Rakow Research Library at The Corning Museum of Glass.

Paul Hollister often made audio recordings for research purposes in preparation for writing, including interviews with artists and curators, and lectures. The reader should bear in mind that transcriptions of these recordings reflect spoken, rather than written, prose. While every effort was made to be as accurate as possible, the sound quality of the recordings in the Paul Hollister Collection varies greatly. Transcripts have been edited for readability and occasionally condensed. They should serve as a best-effort guide to the original only and not be considered verbatim.

American artist Gary Beecham (1955– ) earned a BA in art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978. He then moved to New York and worked for a year at the now-closed Milropa Studios in Queens, making art paperweights for Paul Seide and crafting blown air–trapped vessels for David Huchthausen. In 1979, Beecham accepted an offer to become studio assistant for his former professor and mentor Harvey Littleton in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. Beecham worked for Littleton until 1984, when he set up his own glass studio in Spruce Pine. His work is strongly influenced by the forms and techniques of ancient glassmakers from Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.

Summary: In this interview with Paul Hollister, Gary Beecham talks about the “quilt pattern” pieces he produced while working at J&L Lobmeyr, his glass-type and glassmaking equipment preferences and improvisation in his work. Also discussed are the specific methods Beecham used to produce various pieces, and how he wants his work displayed.

Mentioned: Asia Society Museum, Frederick Carder, Corning Glass Works [Later Corning Incorporated], Crystal Palace, London England, equipment building, Harvey Littleton, J&L Lobmeyr, Penland School of Craft, rod glass, textiles, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Paul Hollister (PH): Okay. I’m talking with Gary Beecham and it’s, what is it? Saturday, November 14th and we’re at the apartment here and he’s just shown me some slides of—panels. 19, oh, I see. Panels that he’s done, one is 35 by 70 centimeters, two of them are that—three of them are that.

Gary Beecham (GB): One—

PH: Umm.

GB: —three feet by 18 inches—

PH: Three feet by 18 inches.

GB: —and one is two feet by 14 inches.

PH: The three feet by 18 inches is the tall one next to the automobile or something out in the parking lot—

GB: And then this is a detail of that same—

PH: —oh, this is a detail of it, that’s very nice it looks like a weaving, or plaid—

GB: —it’s a quilt.

PH: A plaid quilt weaving.

GB: Each of those are quilt patterns.

PH: Yeah. I’m interested that you use centimeters.

GB: Well, those were made in Europe and that’s the—

PH: Oh, this is Lobmeyr [J&L Lobmeyr, Vienna, Austria].

GB: Right. The three panels that are in centimeters were all made at Lobmeyr and the two that are in inches were both made at the University of Wisconsin, Madison while I was a student.

PH: Which ones are those?

GB: This piece and the largest quilt pattern.

PH: I see, but you continued the first one is really very free, it’s sort of—

GB: The first one is actually the last one of this whole series. If I did them in chronological order it would be first this panel, then this panel, then these two panels, and then this panel.

PH: Well now, in other words they’re done about 1978, most of them, right?

GB: Right.

PH: ’77 one of them.

GB: Right.

PH: That’s about the first one. And that’s the one that’s three feet tall by 18 inches wide—

GB: Right.

PH: —and has the details. I’m just saying that, so when I look at them I’ll remember which one, the center-bottom one and the right-hand bottom one is a detail of it. And then there’s a clear glass one, no it isn’t, it’s also a plaid one and—

GB: Right.

PH: —they’re quilted in the upper-right. And then the other three are almost very free-form Kandinsky kind of non-imagery but in lovely coloring. Isn’t that interesting? Huh, so tell me something about them. Were you trying to get them bigger?

GB: These? A lot of it is just what colors I have available and what equipment I have to fuse them. I make them as big as the oven that I have available at the time. In Austria I could work up to 35 by 70 centimeters so that was the size that I did. In Madison I had—

PH: [over GB] That’s about 10 inches by?

GB: No—

PH: 12? 12 inches, 14 inches about?

GB: Yeah, yeah.

PH: 35.

GB: And they were about an inch thick for the—these two very free pieces. They were quite thick.

PH: And how big of a piece can you do at Penland [Penland School of Craft, Penland, North Carolina]?

GB: I can’t do any—the only one I’ve done down there has cracked on me because the oven was only heated on three sides of the piece, so the fourth side of the pieces was cold—

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: —and the piece cracked. The one that I had done down there.

PH: Mmm.

GB: The ones I’ve done in the past, the last six I’ve done have all cracked because I haven’t had proper ovens to do them in.

PH: What do you mean three sides? You mean the edges?

GB: What you need is an oven that the top opens up and that the elements are on all four sides of the panel—

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: If you use an oven where—that opens from the front, then you’ll—your doors don’t—

PH: [inaudible]

GB: Your doors don’t have the elements and they also will tend to leak heat, so that side will be colder and it’s much harder to anneal a piece when it’s only heated on three sides—

PH: Can you make it, you can make an oven?

GB: Yes, I have the frame—

PH: Can’t you put it into the top?

GB: I have the framework made for an oven.

PH: Sydney Cash has got two of them. One of them is about that big and that high, and about this big.

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: And he did them, it was fascinating to me, without—this is a top feed thing, he just lifts the top—

GB: Right.

PH: —where he has a counterbalancing weight and he just hauls it up when—

GB: Right.

PH: —he wants to. And I assume that the heat is coming from all four sides. But he did that just assembling the bricks, no mortar or anything.

GB: Right—the ovens that I use, I prefer the newer materials, the ceramic blankets etcetera because with these panels I—once they’re fused I have to cool them as quickly as possible or I will get surface devitrification. If they’re at a very high elevated temperature for a long period, the surface will tend to get hazy. A brick oven holds the heat a lot, it takes—let’s say I was using a brick oven it would take much more power to get them up to melt and it also takes a long time to get them back to the annealing point. I prefer the ceramic blanket ovens because I can get them up very fast to the fusing temperature and then I can just throw the oven open and I cool them as quickly as possible—

PH: What’s the fusing temperature?

GB: About 1600 Fahrenheit.

PH: Yeah. Yeah. That’s about what he uses.

GB: It varies according to your glass as far as how soft your glass is.

PH: And this is a—

GB: [over PH] I’m using—

PH: —a plate glass—

GB: —no, I make up all my color from the tank, so that it all fits. I don’t use any plate glass. I use all rods of glass.

PH: And they’re rods that you make?

GB: Right, rods that I make.

PH: They’re not Kugler rods.

GB: No. I use Kugler to color the rods, let’s say if I want to make a ruby red rod—

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: —I’ll take and use a fairly large chunk of Kugler, pick that up on the pipe, blow a bubble into it, case it once or twice with crystal, and then blow a fairly thin cup, as if you were gonna make an overlay—

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: —and then, that cup I take and fill up with crystal—

PH: Mmm.

GB: —right in the center of it, I get several gathers, come over, put it inside of the cup, and then heat and form it into the size and shape that I need to pull a piece of cane. And then I take and pull that out, the center part of—

PH: Wow.

GB: —the cane will be let’s say a quarter of an inch, to half an inch in diameter—

PH: Mmm.

GB: —and those I use more for vessels or, for let’s say, one of these textile panels. Where I need very fine lines—

PH: Yeah.

GB: —and the ends of the pull are always thick, where they attach to each pipe that you’re pulling with—

PH: Uh-huh.

GB: —so that the ends of the pull is what I used for the these type of very free panels where I use big chunks of color going through them.

PH: Yeah.

GB: With the two panels that have the cobalt blue glass in, those I specifically made up rods with—at that time I had a tank of clear and a tank of blue to use, those are the two colors that I had. And then I would use silver nitrate to give some color to it also. So I’d make up big rods that would be maybe three inches, two inches in diameter and maybe two or three feet long. And then those I would chop up into very large sections three, four inches high—

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: —and then all of that is laid out into the oven and fused.

PH: Hmm—well—the combination’s just fascinating, you sketch all that out beforehand?

GB: No, I find it much easier to deal with the canes as objects.

PH: Just improvise.

GB: Right, I’ll have them laid out on a table, and I’ll figure out how big a panel I want to make and I’ll allow so many inches for the glass spreading as it fuses. So let’s say I want to make one that is, with the free form that would be—let’s say two feet high by a foot wide, I would allow the glass to spread two to three inches, so I would, when I would draw it out on a piece of paper I would take off that much. I’ll lay out a piece of white paper, then I’ll go and start selecting my rods and laying them out. If they’re too long I’ll take a pointing hammer and I’ll just, you know, knock off pieces until I get the right sizes and shapes. Lay that all out, until I’ve got the design that I want, and then transfer that into the oven onto kiln shelves—

PH: Mmm.

GB: —where it will be fused.

PH: Mmm.

GB: And—

PH: It’s now a sandwich, is it?

GB: No, it’s just a heap of rods.

PH: Okay.

GB: I don’t use any plate glass under or over, because if I were to do that I’d trap a great deal of air.

PH: I see.

GB: If you use just the round rod, you don’t trap any air.

PH: Well what is the, what is the clear glass doing?

GB: That is chunks of clear rod that were anywhere from an inch to two inches in diameter that were just filled in—

PH: They show sort of a pattern as they fuse together?

GB: Yeah, you’ll see almost a honeycomb pattern because the round rods become hexagons as they melt together.

PH: It’s amazing to me—you must have every square centimeter of interstices filled—

GB: [over PH] No, no, because—

PH: [over GB] —I mean how do you—

GB: —because it spreads. As it, in this panel—

PH: Do you know that that’s going to spread that way? And that these things are going to spread this way?

GB: Yes, yes. It’s—

PH: You know that’s—sort of, is that cut?

GB: No.

PH: —that pebble shape?

GB: No, no, okay, what happens is, how do I explain this? Each of these were made just with the canes cut, let’s say a rod was cut up into cross-sections about two/three inches high—

PH: Yeah.

GB: And those were set on end. And I set them so that they touch each other. But I don’t try to pack every little joint with smaller cane, so as they get hotter, they start to sag down and spread out at the same time, so they force the air out up and down as they meet, more or less in the center—

PH: So it’s the weight of the melting—

GB: —right, the melting; it just slowly spreads out and forces the air out. Now, what we’re—

PH: Well why do you need to, then why do you need to, have it heat up so quickly, I should think it would be less air in it—

GB: —I don’t have to sit and wait as long. It’s interesting because—

PH: —with the [inaudible] you don’t get the air out—

GB: No, no—

PH: —and how high is the, is the pile of stuff? To design—

GB: Sometimes the pile will be—

PH: —eight inches?

GB: —five or six inches high—

PH: Hmm.

GB: With a panel like this, the one very colorful panel, I had them looping over each other, just stacked up three—four high so that when they fused you have colors that are going in and out of each other.

PH: In other words, for this one, which is—would be simpler to visualize, you just have a—this is the one on the lower right?

GB: Yeah, the large—

PH: Which is the large—

GB: —quilt pattern.

PH: —quilt pattern. You just have the threads let’s call them, the canes, the threading, the stitching of the quilt laid almost like a building thing [inaudible]—

GB: [over PH at first] No, in—in that case—

PH: —horizontal members—

GB: —they are just simply stacked, one—

PH: —yeah—

GB: —if I want to make a—

PH: —cross—

GB: —one will be so and one will be so.

PH: —right—

GB: —they don’t, they aren’t stacked like—

PH: [over GB] —well, they’re not a row, right?

GB: But what happens—

PH: —it’s not log cabin style—

GB: —right—

PH: —it’s just one layer and another layer and another layer.

GB: In that case with that quilt pattern because the rods were fairly fine if I only would have used two layers of rods it would have been a very fragile panel. It would have been like double strength glass at the most, thickness. So what I did was I laid out two layers of colored rod, in the panel, for the design and then I put two more layers of just clear over the top, so that there would be the clear over the color and it would give the panel more thickness and strength.

PH: Does this stuff never start to run away and fall apart when you’re doing this? —

GB: No, No—

PH: —how do you get it so even?

GB: The glass is viscous; if I were to take it to 1700 it would flow off of the shelf. The glass has a very high viscosity, it wants to stay together, it doesn’t—

PH: [over GB at first]—from the very beginning when you’ve got the things lined up—

GB: —oh.

PH: —does nothing shift?

GB: What, what I do is I will stack them up, and I will use chunks of glass or pieces of iron, what I do now mainly is chunks of glass for a design like this very tight quilt pattern and I’ll have them around the edge of the piece and I’ll take it up to the point of let’s say, 1350 where the glass just starts to stick.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: And I’ll open up the oven and I’ll knock the chunks away so that they have held the glass together until it’s stuck, and then once it’s stuck I can just go in and knock them away quite easily because they haven’t stuck that much.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: And then take it the rest of the way up to fuse.

PH: Hmm.

GB: With ones where they’re just laid on end, like these, these free-form pieces, they’re quite massive, they’re balanced well over each other and if they move a little bit that’s fine. They’re gonna to move anyway. The whole design is going to shift as it, as it melts.

PH: Mmm.

GB: This piece, as you look at it, the one that’s titled Expanding Universe, the center looks like you’re looking right straight through. But the edges all look like they’re exploding outwards.

PH: Yeah.

GB: Because what happens is the glass does flow, it flows outward. So what happens is, on the edges, everything gets bent over. And let’s say this panel were in a gallery, and you were walking by it, if you’re looking from the—if you walk from the left, you can see into the canes on the left, but you can’t see into the center and on the right. As you get directly in front of it you can see right through the center, but you can’t see through either the right or the left-hand edge.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: What’s happened is there are tubes that have been bent so you can only look at the corner ones you can only look at from the very corner.

PH: Yeah.

GB: And if I use a cane that’s, let’s say, four inches high by three inches in diameter I can melt that out to half an inch high, and it still has the illusion that it’s still four inches high.

PH: Hmm.

GB: It maintains that depth even though it’s been compressed.

PH: Hmm. Now what are you going to use this for?

GB: These, the ones that I did at Lobmeyr were presented on very fine brass stands that were made in the chandelier workshops and they were presented either that the person could buy them with the stand and install them as a piece of sculpture—

PH: In front of a window—

GB: —in front of a window—

PH: —or a light—

GB: —or in front of the artificial light whatever, or, they could buy them without the stand and actually install them in as a window.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: The people had that option, what’s the one quilt pattern here I’ve—the largest one I put into a wood frame.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: That, that would work best as a window. The freer ones sometimes the nicest part of them is the very edge. So I think that they work best as a piece of sculpture on a very minimal stand.

PH: Yeah, three of these have irregular contours of the outside edge.

GB: And something also I’ve got into within them is using that edge according to how I stack the canes up in the oven, I can determine what the shape of the piece will be. And I can either have a very regular edge or a very irregular edge.

PH: I noticed in a couple of Klaus Moje’s more recent things he’s left the edge a little bit ragged which is nice.

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: That could change I think, but I mean I also like this other, the kind that couldn’t be contained in a frame. Now, how, what do you say, how would you say in the next couple of years if you continued doing this kind of thing, to enlarge the size, well it occurs to me that you could either do small things and just multiply them—

GB: Right, or you could do—

PH: —you could—

GB: —you could do four by eight sheets if you had the proper oven and the controlling—

PH: —do you think you could get the proper oven?

GB: Oh yeah. They do it in the industry, why can’t you do it in your own studio?

PH: Well it’s the cost of it I guess—

GB: Right, right.

PH: No, but are you trying to get bigger and bigger ovens?

GB: The oven that I’ll be doing now, the inside will be three feet by two feet.

PH: Hmm.

GB: When you subtract for the elements and a certain amount that you have to have in, I’ll lose three inches on each side of the panel. So I’ll be able to do one that’ll be 18 inches by 30 inches in that oven.

PH: That’s pretty good size.

GB: Right, and the other day Harvey [Littleton] asked me if I was interested in a commission for a panel that would be I think 48 inches by 18 inches. And if it’s a good commission I said I can just go build the oven. And—

PH: And you can dismantle the oven or—

GB: Right.

PH: —change it.

GB: Right. The oven that I want to do now will have a floor which will be, essentially a table. And then the—the box part of the oven, the whole part will raise up, because with these, like with this largest quilt panel one, I don’t know how many hundreds and hundreds of pieces were in that and I had to cut them all, lay them out on a table, and then the oven that we had was on the floor and was 30 inches deep, so I had to bend over the oven and transfer every piece of cane down into the bottom.

PH: Hmm.

GB: And—

PH: —the wrong—

GB: —it just about killed me—

PH: Yeah.

GB: It really messed up my back. So, I want an oven that I can lay out on a table and then drop the oven down onto the pieces. Then I got to see some ovens and in Europe where they do some fusing and there they have a table with bricks and then they have a dome that comes down onto the table.

PH: Or you could have the thing that you could lower, couldn’t you? Just the floor chains or something and just lower it down in after it’s assembled into the middle of the thing and then just unhook the chains.

GB: You mean to lower the panel down?

PH: Yeah. So you don’t, so you arrange it at a comfortable height—

GB: Right.

PH: —and then just—

GB: The problem is what you lay your cane out on. I use kiln shelves and they don’t make kiln shelves that big, or if they make them it would cost you some incredible amount of money and they probably wouldn’t be flat. So what I’m doing is I’m having to put like three kiln shelves together.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: So to try to figure out some way to be able to lower three kilns or transfer three kiln shelves at once.

PH: Couldn’t you just line up the fire brick or whatever it is and make them as big as you can get into the kiln and just put them on that? And lower that?

GB: Well my main concern is, the power that it takes. The more mass you have in your oven, the more power it takes and why have to wire for 200 amps when you can do it for 50?

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: So that’s why I favor the new very low-density, low-specific heat materials, very high insulating value, they take a minimal amount of energy, they’re very efficient, they’re easy to build with, over bricks.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: I have used brick ovens and I find them much more limiting.

PH: Mm-hmm. Can you—are these the only slides you have?

GB: I have slides with more panels than that. There’s one very good one that I don’t have there because I don’t have extras of it at the moment. Those were slides that I could bring extras of up.

PH: Sometime if you could get some copies—it’s easy to get copies—of slides, I mean, they don’t lose much in the—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —in the reproduction. They lose a little, but not much. And send me a bunch of them. Giving me the size in centimeters or inches; it’s easier in inches, I guess. Then I might be able to do something with them. If this had a backlighting, the way this does—

GB: Right.

PH: It has a strong light behind it but it looks like that pattern—

GB: It would be a little bit brighter. This one has more subtle colors.

PH: Yeah. That’s what I wondered. Hard to tell sometimes from a slide—it’s very hard to distinguish—

GB: Right, these—

PH: —at that distance.

GB: —actually are not the high—and this one was done professionally by John Littleton. These three I was ready to leave Austria, I didn’t have slides of them, I didn’t have a photographer to photograph them, but I simply set them up in the window of the studio and photographed them myself.

PH: Even John’s is gray around the edges though.

GB: Right. The problem with photographing those is the size of them.

PH: Yeah, yeah that’s right. Getting back and getting an even light behind.

GB: I had a good photo of this one that John did and I sent them all out—I have no more copies anymore.

PH: Well okay, when you get some copies made send me some.

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: Alright?

GB: Okay.

PH: And I’ll see what I can cook up. It’s—also—it would be interesting for instance, why couldn’t you do, why couldn’t you take—there’s your quilt—say there’s 16 squares in it let’s say, roughly, right?

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: Why couldn’t you bake, make up the squares individually and bake in the small kiln [inaudible] until you get them all done, put two in and then take them out and put two more in and take them out. And then assemble them as panels that checker pieces—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —that go together, checkerboard effect, mosaic effect. And assemble it that way?

GB: Yeah, that’s another possibility. The advantage—

PH: Not with leading necessarily but some way.

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: Epoxy or—

GB: Well the advantage of being able to fuse everything is I don’t have to deal with lead lines.

PH: Yeah.

GB: When I was in school I was gonna to do a portrait for a painting class where I pulled out hundreds and hundreds of pounds of different colored glass. And I was gonna to do a portrait where I would just set panes in like you would in mosaic work, just canes on end, just thousands of them. And to build up a portrait that way.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: And then fuse all of that so I would have a more than life-sized portrait fused out of colors.

PH: Mmm. I was thinking, suppose you had 36, or whatever, 36 of them and had them all down on a nice big, flat floor, concrete floor or whatever on a board, on a big piece of Masonite say [inaudible] good one four by eight they’d all been made separately, you arrange them the way you want and they’re what, are they two inches thick or an inch thick?

GB: They can be anywhere from—a quarter inch thick to two inches thick.

PH: And couldn’t you pour in liquid Lucite or something just, pour it around in between and just have them all sealed together that way?

GB: Well there’s one way where you can—

PH: [over GB] and epoxy—

GB: —actually heat them up and, and pour in liquid lead.

PH: Well I mean, to eliminate the leading, to keep the—to retain the transparency of the thing.

GB: Well I’ve done some work where I tried to combine resin with glass and the expansions of the two are different and the resin tends to crack or the glass, you know, they don’t get along that well.

PH: But isn’t there something that would work cold? Suppose you got a commission to do a big window, say, for a hotel restaurant or something, a great big thing and it’s all going to be lit from behind either by artificial or daylight. Let’s say, 30 feet high and 15 feet wide?

GB: I think I would deal with steel, to support the structure. I don’t trust plastic.

PH: Mm-hmm.

GB: It doesn’t have the life that the glass does as far as surviving—

PH: But you could do something that way by assembling the same small pieces couldn’t you?

GB: Right, right—

PH: So another—

GB: —beyond a certain size it would be very hard to do a piece that big. You would do it as components and assemble it.

PH: Yeah.

GB: Yeah, yeah that would be the way to go.

PH: Sure, to get beyond say 48 inches it wouldn’t be practical, sure. I remember when they were making the glass for the Crystal Palace [Great Exhibition, 1851, London, England], [Joseph] Paxton said, ‘I want 40 inches.’ They’d done, they’d blown cylinders I guess that were 36 or something like that and they said, ‘We can’t do it, we can’t blow cylinders that big,’ and he said ‘Okay then I won’t give you the order.’ And they tried it, and they did it.

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: And they succeeded and they got them 40 by 36 or whatever—

GB: Uh huh.

PH: And used it and that was the biggest, biggest glass expanse ever—ever covered.

GB: Right.

PH: I suppose even still it’s the biggest, ever covered. But he got them to do it but beyond that point, there was nothing they could do by the methods that they had then—

GB: [over PH] Right, that’s—

PH: —until they had these others [inaudible] process and all these others—

GB: —right, that is one of the—I started out as a glassblower and then as I became interested in the Italian techniques I began to make a lot of cane. And I came up to a point where I didn’t have furnaces to use and all I had was an oven to fuse and leftover cane. So then I started fusing glass, you know, into flat sheets. And I realized that with that there wasn’t the limits [inaudible] with blowing. With blowing, there’s a certain amount of weight you can handle. There’s a physical limit, you know, how strong a person is. And with the fusing, the only limit really is how big the oven is.

PH: Yeah.

GB: You know, if you look at the size of the—the lens that Corning [Corning Glass Works, Corning, New York] did for Palomar [Palomar Mountain, California] You can see that even that really isn’t a limit anymore.

PH: No. No.

GB: Something that I like very much is the post office down on Canal Street with the cast panels that are above the front door there’s a large insulation of simple, clear cast glass.

PH: Yeah, I know the building.

GB: That’s, that’s set into place and I went into it last time I was up in New York and looked just how they put it together.

PH: Mmm.

GB: And I was quite interested in that. I don’t know who did it, what company did it—

PH: There’s also the transom over the doors in the RCA Building [New York, New York], that was a Frederick Carder job.

GB: Oh, yeah, yeah.

PH: He did that whole thing. Interesting to look and see that, seems to me there’s sort of bronze separations or lattices of bronze—

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: —if I remember—maybe not, may a lot of them are just cemented. I don’t know. I really haven’t looked at a picture of it or seen it from that standpoint. But, that was my first—I guessing the biggest sized commission he did—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —and it’s quite nifty from the inside. It’s—there are differences on the outside looking in just to stand back and see it as a whole design and going across what about 60 feet or something—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —40 feet maybe. Well those things can be done. Provided that they’re done in small units—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —and assembled.

GB: And the panels in the making of the cane, in a way it’s technical, but it’s gotten to be so repetitive that I can do it without having to think. And my blowing is very technical and quite often requires a lot of skill, and with the panels there’s a minimal amount of skill required to make the cane. Once you’ve got the cane made, you just chop it up and lay it out and throw it in the oven and melt it. The technical skill required and the limitations that you have at the furnace are just virtually eliminated. And I like that.

PH: Yeah. Cooking.

GB: Right, it’s just like, you know—

PH: Making a good salad.

GB: —right, it’s like throwing a cake in the oven and—

PH: Yeah.

GB: —and baking it.

PH: Yeah, that’s fascinating. Well I’d like to see some slides when you get—these are good. I think this one’s a little dense but, but you—

GB: But that again was one I just took as a shot in front of the parking lot and the glass studio on Madison—

PH: Yeah.

GB: —and it’s the one slide that I have leftover at the moment.

PH: Yeah, I know. That’s the way it happens.

GB: And then this is a detail that John had shot where you can actually see what the colors are in this piece, they just don’t come through.

PH: Are you working with Harvey on this or is this—are you doing it entirely on your own?

GB: No, this I’ve done entirely on my own. Harvey’s been very interested in it. Let’s see, I started doing it; most of those panels were done, in fact all of them were done after he left the University.

PH: Come over here at the window.

[pause for five seconds]

PH: You see the—see the buildings the red, the brick building there—

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: —and then the two tall ones behind it—

GB: Right.

PH: —that are being—one is—the one on the right was designed by Ed Barnes [Edward Larabee Barnes] who’s an old friend of mine; we went to school together. And I’d like to, if I can get some good slides I’d like to show him some, he’s got three big commissions, he’s just finished the Asia House Museum [Asia Society Museum, New York, New York] you know—

GB: Oh, yeah.

PH: —in 70th, 70th and Park, he did that, he’s done this, and he’s done another one further down Madison. Which, I guess is complete, or nearing it. Can’t see it from here, but I’ve been, I’ve been trying to collect people to send to him with ideas that could be used architecturally.

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: In commissions that he gets, so there’s no harm in having some slides available—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —to show him. And he’s quite open to it. We had dinner the other night and discussed the whole thing. And, Don Shepherd is going to show him his portfolio and Sydney Cash is going to try and think about what he could do big—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —I’m trying to get him to think big at the moment.

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: Because he had two pieces in that last show, you might have seen them that were about this high—that high—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —that showed possibilities, I think, what he might do if he—

GB: Well the sagged pieces that he does he could do just as well do with the three by three sheet of glass, rather than a three inch by three inch—

PH: Yeah, if he had a big enough kiln—

GB: —if he had a large enough kiln.

PH: Yep, that’s right. You ever seen the Pilkington process? The float glass?

GB: I know of it, but I haven’t seen it.

PH: Oh it is incredible, it goes in, you hear it crashing in all ingredients—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —drawing into a hopper that’s as big as this living room, and in eight minutes it’s melting.

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: It’s starting to flow downhill and when it gets in a nice syrupy consistency it flows out onto a bed of liquid tin and it ends up annealed a quarter of a mile away, continuous—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —just continuous, it’s all stacked and everything. It’s [laughs] unbelievable to see it. But, those things that can be done now—someday you’ll be able to do instant eternal sculpture—

GB: Mm-hmm.

PH: —you know, this keeps going on endlessly, but if you can send me some stuff sometime of these files, I’ll show them to him and see what he thinks of it and then set up an appointment so that when you’re up here sometime you can go and see him.

[recording skips at 36:18]

PH: Through that, about—

GB: What originally interested me in the fusing was the old Hellenistic fan-folds and also some of the pieces that [Frederick] Carder did, with fusing cane together.

PH: Yeah.

GB: And originally I started out to work out the process flat and then, you know, I wanted to do vessels out of it, but I became so interested in what you could with flat panels and the scale that you could do them that I forgot about trying to do them into smaller vessels—

PH: Sid [Sidney] Goldstein has a little, what do you call it, what do you call that thing that’s television, it’s a cassette for television?

GB: Oh, a videocassette?

PH: Videocassette. And, I stuck it in the machine there at Corning [The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York] a couple of weeks ago and looked at it. It’s about seven minutes long, something like that, quite a short film; showing, making a millefiori bowl in Murano. And honest to God, making the canes, it was the most ugly looking, dumb-looking thing you can imagine—

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: —how he could get those canes. He had a thing that looked like a pancake or a paddle, it was flat and it was sort of rectangular. And then he would coat it with another color and lay it down over it as if he were putting together a grilled cheese sandwich—

GB: Right.

PH: —and then flatten it on the marver, and then put it in the furnace and almost immediately they were pulling it out into a spiral cane. It’s just, you couldn’t believe it looked so crude, but of course when they all got reduced, it looked okay.

GB: Fine.

PH: And, they put it upside down over a—they made a, a blanket, a sandwich of it. Just a blanket of the stuff, heated it up, you’d push it together—it was on a little flat thing and an arm came out and took it and put it in the oven.

GB: Uh-huh.

PH: And, in the furnace and then in, a few minutes later, it came out again and he’d take a paddle and—

[GB and PH speak at the same time inaudibly]

PH: —and, you know, a couple of things that stray—knock them off and so forth. I’ve got a—

[recording ends]