Paul M. Hollister Collection, The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass
Transcribed by Bard Graduate Center
Title: Paul Hollister Interview with Harvey Littleton, November 7, 1979 (Rakow title: Harvey K. Littleton interview [sound recording] / with Paul Hollister, BIB ID: 168575).
Harvey Littleton, Interviewee
Klaus Moje (probably), Participant
Paul Hollister, Interviewer
Danielle Weindling, Transcriber
Barb Elam, Summary and Editor
Duration: 56:24
Length: 22 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 Harvey K. Littleton (1922–2013) earned a BD in industrial design from the University of Michigan in 1947 and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1951 before joining the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) as a ceramist. In the late 1950s, Littleton began exploring the possibility of glassblowing in a studio setting; two glassblowing workshops he organized at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962 are widely credited as founding moments in the American studio glass movement. Littleton went on to establish the first university-level glass program in the United States at UW-Madison and had a significant impact on the glass field as an artist and teacher. He established a studio and printing facility in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, in 1976, after he retired from teaching, and later founded the Spruce Pine Batch Company, which has been making glass batch since 1986.

Summary: In this conversation between Harvey Littleton and Paul Hollister, Littleton discusses his current work, explaining that many of his pieces are a stage in a long process of working toward successful forms. Littleton discusses his views on the future of studio glass and his prediction that Americans will begin to develop glass colors that will surpass Kugler. Hollister and Littleton agree that contemporary glass artists are highly educated and articulate.

Mentioned: Dale Chihuly, James Carpenter, Steuben, Art Reed, Spezialglashütte Kugler Colors GmbH, Fritz Dreisbach, Emile Gallé, Georges Bontemps, René Lalique, George Morey, Bert van Loo, laser glass, sawing, polishing

Related asset: “Studio Glass: The Next Decade.” Collector Editions 8, no. 1 (January 1980): 42-43.

Paul Hollister (PH): You’re on. You’ve always, you took math in college and you’ve always been interested in scientific shapes—

 Harvey Littleton (HL): Well, in mathematical shapes. The three-dimensional—

PH: Geometrics.

HL: Yeah. In fact, that’s what I call this series. These are the geometrics and these are the optics.

PH: This is November 7th, is it?

HL: November 8th, I think.

PH: November 8th, the day after [inaudible] Armistice Day and I’m talking with Harvey Littleton, a contemporary with a vacuum cleaner in the background. And that—as you say, it’s what’s inside that is—makes it look a little more off than it is.

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: Is this what kind of glass are these? These are geometric—

HL: Those, that—

PH: Shapes.

HL: That’s the glass that I’m now melting in my furnace. I have a new furnace, which is, a continuous melting facility using electricity in the melting unit. And in the—refiner or, or forehearth or whatever you want to call it, has gas just to keep it—workable—the glass workable. It’s actually very similar to the furnaces Steuben is using, except of course, Steuben’s is infinitely bigger and more complicated, and infinitely more expensive. But mine uses tin oxide elements and so on.

PH: And they cook their bubbles out where you don’t.

HL: Well, I take my glass as it comes. And sometimes it’s very good and sometimes it’s not so good. But I make what I want to make—with whatever I’ve got. These bubbles in here, next to the layer of color are because of the—overlay was not done as precisely as I, as I, have done it later. On the larger—the inner overlays, these are a series of overlays and the inner ones, cased overlays. On the inner ones, they are easier to do because they’re smaller. As the piece gets larger—

PH: The defects get magnified.

HL: Yes. Yeah, and of course on a round piece you have the lens effect, which—

PH: Makes it even worse.

HL: Yeah.

PH: Yeah.

HL: Which accounts for the fact that you see color in this surface where it’s really this far in.

PH: Yeah.

HL: So these are the—are the dividends of the distortion of the glass—

PH:  See, Incidentally, just parenthetically—this is what drives me up the wall with the re- grinding of paperweights. Because they don’t understand that this curve brings this up there and then as soon as you cut down on the curve, the design recedes and—

HL: Exactly.

PH: They did. They don’t understand that.

HL: They—

PH:  They think they’re making it perfect again—

HL: Yeah.

PH: By taking away. But, that’s enough of that. But, now you have a line—

HL: Well, there are actually three lines in this one. There’s one there, one there, and a much finer one in here. And this is a—I call it a tri-section.

PH: This is the vestige of the striping that you had when you had the spaghetti loops.

HL: Yes. Yes.

PH: That is—

HL: Yes. [vacuum stops]

PH: Still remains a little bit of opaque white. A thin sliver of opaque white—

HL: Well—

PH: Running along.

HL: I found, for instance, on some of these, that they were rather anemic until I had—made the precise line.

PH: Is that an external?

HL: Yes. That’s just cut—

PH: And—but these are—these are—

HL:  Those are internal.

[Speaking at the same time]

PH: These are internal.

HL:  Yes. Those are cased.

PH:  And the external one would go down here if you don’t need it—

HL:  Yeah.

PH: —but you don’t need it with that shape. And now let me, you think it looks, would look anemic without that vertical. This is a—

HL:  I—

PH: —an almost parallelogram, not quite, but almost parallelogram—sliced diagonally through a—a cylinder of one, two, three—about five or six ply, maybe not counting the—the clear. And then we have a vertical line running through it. As it’s a polished off of ground—off and polished on the bottom to fit on the stand so it won’t roll. This is not the endless rock type. Though we’ve got an endless rock type with three members—over there. I must say that I think your dark bases [telephone begins ringing] are very handsome with that glass. They enrich the glass. These are sort of—they look like dalles des verre color.

HL:  Mm-hmm.

PH: That dark gray is sort of a—

HL:  Well these—these—

PH:  —I can’t see from here—

HL: The bronze glass that are used for doors and windows in architecture.

PH: And they, and they look damn handsome as bases, much more so than this—cheap ashtray that you use for this stuff—

HL:  Yeah.

PH: Which I’ve never been able to reconcile [HL laughs] with the, with the pieces above it.

HL: [inaudible]

[tape stops and begins again]

PH:  The colors are sort of a—veiled oil yellow, almost like Gil Johnson’s veils. Pinky bronze, red bronze, that’s very attractive. Gray blue. They’re all translucent. And these are done in the layers. These are done. They’re layered—cylindrical wrappings and several ply around each other. And one has a pink and blue—layerings over sort of a foggy white and—but they’re cut in all sorts of different ways to give them geometrical interest. One is one, of his old trumpets—hunting horn shapes. In other words, it gets smaller and then it gets larger. But then he’s just taken a little section of it and cut it in a beveled way with opposite angles to the bevels so that it slants down in both directions. And that rests—with its sort of natural arch as it catches it at the point where it’s thinnest and rests on the black pedestal or base—just rest freely on it. It’s ground down there, s o it will. And then they’re, they’re, well, they’re several of those. Another one is a round and like the end of his spaghetti—pieces, rods—it’s just the curved end part. Good morning [addresses unknown person].

[HL talks to unknown person in distance]

PH:  And then there’s one in which, well, that’s cut in the concave way, the curved end base so that it looks like two little a—it looks like a bowl that has been sliced. Truncated down the middle and sliced in half. And both halves rest on the base. In this case he’s scored the base to give it some interest.

[PH mumbles; tape stops and starts again]

PH: Harvey there’s—these two pieces are the laser beam glass—right?

HL:  And this. And this.

PH:  And you—but these are laser beam in the sense that they’re clear and the ripples are still apparent.

HL:  Yes. Right. I’ve left them—in a number of them—in some instances on these, and I don’t think I have one with me. I have recut that surface—

PH: Re—re-rippled it.

HL: That quality of it—that I admired a great deal in some of the earlier glasses that are—that are in my collection, for instance.

PH: And then you’ve—taken a saw and sliced right down, which makes it a nifty acid finish slice right down—

HL: Yeah.

PH: The center and gives it another, a whole other dimension and another—a different texture—

HL: That’s right—and some of them have two cuts. I don’t know if I have the one with me—that has that—but it really bends the glass. If I can find it.

[tape stops and starts again]

PH: Yeah. This is a boat-shaped one with the laser beam glass with the ripples so it’s almost, it’s very nautical, very fish, very boat shaped, very fluid looking. And it has a slice right down the center. He’s just run the saw right down into a certain extent vertically, and then pull it out so it makes its own curve—

HL:  Yes.

PH: Inside.

HL: Yes.

PH: And do you do—does the grinding leave that finish, is that what gives it the finish?

HL: Oh, yes. Yes.

PH: The grinding of the saw blade—

HL: The scene from the end, it becomes a positive form rather than a negative form.

PH: Well, I don’t think it’s a negative form anyway. I don’t—you mean it’s only a space, an airspace—

HL: Yeah.

PH: But it doesn’t look negative. It looks positive.

HL: In some cases I have—

[tape stops and starts again]

PH: It’s going to be shown. Where? What is this for? In the next show?

HL: Yes, in December.

PH: Okay.

[tape stops and starts again]

HL: Get best—

PH: Yeah this is a tipped section of—dory or rowboat with the slice going through on the bottom this time. Almost like a keel up into the form. It is a very nautical form and the ripples in the glass increase that feeling—

HL: Right that you should put a—both quality to them because I often think of them as having a sail. A little bit like a sail. I’m a sailor.

PH: Well, the saw cut is almost like a sail—

HL: Yes.

PH: Or like a keel.

HL: Yeah. In that case. Yeah.

PH: Three quarter—

HL: I bought a boat in Finland—a 35 foot motor sailer, and I sailed it to the Caribbean. This has two [inaudible]—

PH: So now this is one. The ripples are horizontal. There are two saw cuts and the pieces positioned vertically. It’s like the pedestal for the Nike of Samothrace, and it’s positioned vertically at a slight tilt and there’s a saw cut on each side. Now, I’m going to ask you a terrible question—and you don’t have to answer it. There’s a—I get the feeling that as you go along through life making all this stuff, that you’re as interested in quantity as you are in quality, sometimes more interested in quantity—for a very specific reason that you may not even be aware of. Namely that in order to get from A to Z, you have to go through B, C, D, F & G.

HL: Exactly, exactly.

PH: And what happens along the way is incidental to the place that you will arrive at or it’s important for certain things that happen and G, M, and Q along the way.

HL: In other words, I think in general, I’m always looking ahead of what I’m doing.  But I have to get rid of—

PH: Yeah.

HL:  I have to—

PH: You have to go through—

HL: Yeah.

PH: —that to get to the other thing—

HL: Yeah. I have to exhaust—

PH: Even if there’s a lot of junk that turns up and that you still have to keep making it—

HL: That’s right.

PH: —and grinding it out until you get through to something else. So, therefore, I say these things, which to me, not the color ones—

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: —which are something else, but this laser glass with the ripples and with the nautical look and with the—flat surfaced—geometrical, or pseudo-geometrical shapes—

HL: In fact I call them all polyhedrons.

PH: Yeah, polyhedrons—if—a lot of it isn’t just chance. In other words, you’re not calculating mathematically.

HL: No.

PH: You may have a hunch that if you, that if you do this tricky thing here, that—it may reflect on one of the other surfaces, it may be thrown back from one of the other surfaces, but you’re not calculating this in a mathematical way to have that happen.

HL: No.

PH: It happens and you say, that’s it. Now I’ve got another one to do.

HL: Yeah.

PH: We’ll see what happens there.

HL:  Also, what I do is I will saw them—and then I will—before I finish all of the facets, all of the—the angles, I will polish two or three, so I can begin to look inside and see what’s happening. Then I’ll saw some more. And polish some more. And then I’ll, I’ll finally—I won’t carry it through to the cerium but I’ll take it as far as the pumice, so that I begin to see inside. And—when you see inside, it’s sort of like you’re in a room and you begin to see the dimensions of the outside—I, that’s hard for me to—

PH: But, I don’t know—

HL: Explain.

PH: —I don’t know if you saw that piece in the Times. I guess it was yesterday of the Russian that’s come up with the mathematical—thing that is gonna revolutionize the work of computers and eliminate all these steps and things.

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: And it can be applied to codes or anything else. And one of the problems they always have is the problem they call the traveling salesman problem—which apparently is something that all mathematicians know about and worry about the solution of. The problem is to get a traveling salesman to say twelve or fifteen cities in the shortest possible route without going back through one city twice—

HL: Retracing your steps—

PH: And apparently there are so many factors in this.

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: Time, geographical travel distance—schedule, sleeping, eating, selling—factors that it takes a hell of a long time for a computer to come up with an answer or a possible answer. Some of the answers are not solvable—

HL: Yeah.

PH: And some are. Now, I feel that with a the geometrical polyhedron shape, like these things, and a bastard one like this, which is curved and bulged out a little bit—you’re dealing with so many factors that would not be possible for you as a creative artist, let alone as a mathematician, to know what it’s going to look like.

HL: Exactly. You can’t calculate.

PH: You can’t, so that you have to do this and say, ‘Hey, that looks nice. I think I’ll try this. Oops, I shouldn’t have done that. I’ll leave it here.’

HL: What—

PH: Now I’ve got to do another piece—

HL: Yeah.

PH: Fuck that piece.

HL: Yeah. Yeah. What I’ve done in all of it, in these two is, you know, how a child learns to form some letters, and he wants to write a letter to his mother, and he does this thing on a sheet of paper, and it’s not readable of course, but it’s letter—it’s recognizable letter forms that he’s made this— this thing with. And it’s sort of like that. This is geometry, but it’s felt geometry. It’s not calculated geometry. It’s whatever. It isn’t exactly whatever turns up, but it deals with some of that. In geometry, you have a whole series of topological forms where if you press say on a concentric circle—two concentric circles, and you push one of them in, it’s going to push the inner one in, but not as much as you pushed the outer one in.

PH: Right.

HL: And that gives you—

PH: Like the billiard ball—

HL: And so when you’ve got these cased overlays and you push in from the outside, you begin to get the distortion of the inner—

PH: Where it’s being flattened by the push—

HL: Yes, and where it’s even less and doesn’t occur in this most inner one. So, this is—is really a part of what’s called a cardioid. This part of it—at least this, you know—heart—comes from the word. Cardioids. And so this one is sectioned, in other words, it’s cut in half. And—

PH: It looks like the alimentary canal wall sitting on the job.

HL: [laughs] Well—well, whatever it is—

PH: I wouldn’t use that.

HL: So it’s this kind of pseudo-mathematics— inspired by mathematics that I’m—that I’m dealing with rather than— and my reaction to it in terms of my materials and the things that I can begin to handle.

PH: Well, the mathematics is not art. It’s its own demonstration.

HL: That’s right. And that’s right.

PH: And to make it art, you have to—

HL: It has to be more—

PH: —play with it—yeah.

HL: But glass, you know, is such a seductive material. That it’s—and it does so much with the light, that I can’t deal with anything but relatively strict forms at this point. If you use it for sculptural forms, you’ve mentioned—an Aphrodite, or whatever it was—

PH: Yeah.

HL: A neoclassic—

PH: Nike—

HL: —form. Like the two that I did—I did one in 1942, and one in 1946 [telephone begins ringing and continues for most of passage] in a slip cast glass at the corner that was in those study cases. And they have them on loan right now—well, one of them belongs to them. The one I did in ‘42, and the other one belongs to me, but I’ve lent it to them. And—that really is not glasslike, you know, it’s opaque. It’s a— it’s a pate de verre basically, except it’s a 96% silica glass. So it’s easier to work with than pate de verre. So it—so it has the look almost like marble, except it’s more translucent than marble would be and one of them is hollow, and it couldn’t be made in any other material. So it’s true to its own nature, but at the same time, it is the complex natural form that we normally think of as sculpture. The point of all of this is that when you deal with the transparent glass—and the more brilliant the glass the more it picks up the surroundings, the more it—the light destroys the form. So that for the form to hold at all, it has to be a very strict form. You know?

PH: Yeah, that’s a very good point. You can’t have too much going on.

HL: That’s right. That’s right.

PH: Or it call— it distracts attention from its basic form—

HL: Yeah. So to deal with it as sculpture, the first of those—lone forms, that you call spaghetti, I did as a column. It was simply this—hyperboloid shape, except very long with—and the one that belongs to the Toledo Museum [Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio] is some fifty inches tall. Well, what I was trying there was to get a form, which you would have to use two eye fixations to see. But in a single piece of glass, that means it’s got to be pretty big.

PH: Yeah.

HL: And I couldn’t, I couldn’t blow it. But I could make it solid, and let the gravity take care of the length of it. And so the column shape was quite a good one. [telephone begins ringing]

PH: Well that, that’s a like a—like a—[Constantin] Brancusi’s Bird in Space

HL: Very much like that. Very similar to that attenuation.

PH: Attenuation on both ends—

HL: Except Brancusi’s goes in and that swells up, and—

PH: Yeah—

HL: And ends in a point. Whereas this other one was a column shape—

PH: Yeah.

HL: Like a [Frank Lloyd] Wright’s mushroom column, except greatly exaggerated.

PH: But you—but you wonder, for instance, if Brancusi had been working in glass, instead of in bronze—

HL: Yeah—

PH: What he would have done. If he would’ve come up with your column.

HL: The funniest thing I ever had was a show that I had in Zurich [Switzerland]. About 25 pieces, and the director of the Museum Bellerive, said to me after the show was over, she said, ‘Oh, everyone just loved your things. And we’d have sold everyone if they’d only been in bronze.’

[both laugh.]

HL: Yeah.

PH: Well, it says something for the sculptural shape of them.

HL: Well.

PH: Let me do one little thing here, for just a minute, let’s see how it looks. [tape stops and starts again]. This is the glass that Harvey uses for his stands. The clear glass or semi-clear—it has a nasty greenish yellow look about it.

HL: [laughs] Well It has a certain beauty about it. If we worked—if the glass industry for so many hundreds of years, hadn’t been trying to get rid of the green, we would think it was quite lovely.

PH: I like green. I liked the bottle green and I like the bald glass green. I just don’t like that green.

HL: There was another thing that I did with these and that was, for a while I was playing with it this way.

PH: Yeah.

HL: And in general, I haven’t solved the total idea that I’d like to do in some of these pieces, and that is to have enough elements so that the relationships that I see wouldn’t be fixed. And they would be that—it would give the viewer, the person who owns it, eventually the chance to discover his own relationships—his own—to have his own fun with it.

PH: As opposed to [Dale] Chihuly’s baskets, which apparently, according to him, have an optimum arrangement.

HL: Well, I think that that’s the conceit of the artist—

PH: [inaudible] Polaroids. I know it is, but still, he thinks they look best one way.

HL: Yeah.

PH: They may look a little messy—

HL: Yeah.

PH: —another way.

HL: But we were talking before about the artist and his—his continuum. And I feel quite strongly that a person who buys a piece of an artist’s work, the artist has it relatively little time. He makes it; he works with it. He gets an idea about it, then he does it. Then, eventually he sells it. Someone else buys it. Because they basically identify with it. They like it. And, they have it maybe 10 years, twenty years, thirty years, and they live with it. And I used to think what a conceit of a, of a museum person or—or someone else to think that they knew more about a piece than the artist who made it. But then I began to realize just what I said. That they do live with it longer, it becomes a part of them, and it’s no longer a part of the artist. It’s a, it’s just a moment in a, in an artist’s life.

PH: Most composers, they’re not good enough pianos to play their own music properly.

HL: Yeah. That may well be.

PH: But that there must be. I agree with you. I mean—

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: —all this makes sense. There must be some pieces that you do—let’s say this one, which I keep liking more and more as I look at it—as opposed to this one, that have a—have a—you can move it here, or you can move it there, but you have to have it this way. Then you can move it there or you can move it here, but, but it has to be—there’s a limited number of things you can do with it, and have it look right in relation to the base.

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: The surrounding here.

HL: Yeah.

PH: And so forth. Whereas this kind of thing, it doesn’t have enough personality in its shape—

HL: It’s [inaudible]—

PH: You can, you can do a six, you could make bookends or even—you know, you can do any kind of thing with it.

HL: Yup.

PH: And it’ll still look—just as important or unimportant that way, as, as the next way. You know, you can have it that way one week and change it the next week.

HL: Well—

PH: But it doesn’t have a— it doesn’t have it. I am complete. I am an object surrounded by triangular air.

HL: Yeah.

PH: Which something like this to me does.

HL:  Well, you have a, you have a frustration of an artist—to deal with. [Lyonel] Feinenger, for instance, would get his—[addressing PH] I don’t think it’ll stand; I’ll try to. Feinenger would repaint on a painting after it had been in an exhibition. You know, he would bring it home and, and rework it. And, I always felt that that was a mistake. That—I was most impressed when I saw the [Claude] Monet show at the Modern [Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York], some, maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, because it had all of the Haystack series and all the Cathedral series together. And I looked at them in an entirely different way than the literature has looked at them. Because I saw them as, here’s a guy who’s put two layers of paint on this canvas. The next one, he’s got three layers of paint, and the next one, he’s got four layers. So the final ones ended up with an imposto maybe a half an inch thick. And, I said, well, here’s a man who had either guts enough or—money enough to buy enough canvases to put it aside, to take all of those seminal pictures—where it looked good, but he knew he was going to do more to put it aside and start over again and do the next one with the pre-layers—

PH: I think he worked on them simultaneously. And then, when the light changed, he’d go back and work a little on this one and work a little on that and the light changed again.

HL: But, you see, see how I saw it as a process thing. Which was—

PH: [Inaudible] see what goes on down underneath in Monet’s paintings is extraordinary. You know, I don’t find it in other painters. I mean, a Rembrant may have a very—

HL: Because he showed it to us. See he showed it to us. He let us see it, and most painters don’t do that. And what it means in terms of me to get back to this stuff, is that I show things that, maybe are not completely “there.” Because that is—

PH: What do you mean “there”?

HL: —a stage in the process.

[PH and HL speak at the same time, inaudibly]

HL: But—I’ve always been—

PH: Yeah.

HL: I’ve, I don’t think the glass movement would have gotten off the ground if we hadn’t showed all the lumps and bumps that we were starting with.

PH: Yeah.

[quality of audio changes]

HL: Yeah. Getting toward—what I’ve been talking about is—

PH: This is, we’re now beginning to talk about ‘The Next Decade’ for Collector Editions.

HL: The seeds of the next decade are always in the past.

PH: Yep.

HL: In how a person works and in how they solve the problem. In how they have gone through a series of pieces. What kinds of—how the mind work in this way. With Dale, for instance, he, he works to a theme. In fact, the literary content of his pieces are more important. The conception of it. Whether it was back in the neon pieces. Or whether it’s in the cylinder series or whether it’s in the present Basket series.

PH: He’s anchored by a theme.

HL: He’s inspired by a theme.

PH: Which keeps him to it—

HL: Exactly.

PH: Keeps him to it.

HL: Exactly.

PH: Well you have been too.

HL: No. I am more process-oriented, I think.

PH: The process is more important than the result.

HL: No. It’s just that it’s the springing point. For instance, as a designer, I wasn’t a very good designer because I had—I couldn’t work on paper. I had to get all the junk around me and fit the things together. And, as I kept doing it, it kept getting better, of course. But, of course, you can’t wait to get it perfect. There’s a deadline. There’s all of these other things [inaudible] I had to work in material. And I responded to the material itself—to the nature of it, to its physical limitations, its chemical limitation, etcetera. My tools that I surround myself with are part of my final vision. I discover a new tool, a new tool is apt to take me into another way: inscribing line, and beginning to cut into the surface of the glass, so that I leave a surface with the mark of the tool on it. I have approached it, very tentatively, like sticking your toe in the water, up to this point. The piece in the new glass show has an inscribed line on that tube that’s bent. It was an overlay, double overlay, and I cut through it, but I—but there’s only one little view where that line has real meaning, but to me, the line, I put it there because it makes that form much stronger. Even though it’s a—it’s a very, minimal line. It defines this from,  in a way in which it wouldn’t be defined without it. This inscribed line.

PH: Oh, I know. I can see that.

HL: And so to learn the technique of cutting—of sharpening a stone and cutting the line, and so on, is something that I couldn’t, I couldn’t stop my other work to learn. I had to slowly introduce it into my thinking and into my work.

PH: But you know Harvey, that line is not down the middle of that oval, it’s off to the left.

HL: Paul, your eye is too good.

[Both laugh]

PH: We’ll —[inaudible] thing that drive me up the wall, visually, cause I’m visually oriented—

HL: Yeah, but I do like a little of that dichotomy.

PH: Well, you gotta [inaudible].

[HL laughs]

HL: But, is it it or isn’t it, kind of thing. Is it precise or isn’t it precise? Is it free or isn’t it free? What’s he doing here?

PH: Yeah. See—I find these very exciting and—[both speak at the same time inaudibly] You’re getting something—happening there.

HL: This is just started.

PH: This is later than this?

HL: No. Yes. This is just—some of these. This one is still hot.

PH: Can you clean the glass up?

HL: Some of it. Yes, I can. [tape stops and starts again]  My furnace is coming very nicely. We’re learning to use it. And, it’s a very good furnace.

PH: Because—can I just say—

HL: Yeah.

PH: The way it hits me? To me, the simplicity of the thing. Simplicity. Well, you know they’re geometrically complicated, but the basic simplicity. That’s one hunk. That’s one hunk.

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: And it seems to be a simple form. It’s so strong, that one would like to see that simplicity, that clarity, carry through. And when I see a bubble in there it just drives me crazy [HL laughs]. I see it in here. It drives me—

HL: Well, you have to realize though, if terms of yourself, you are a very precise person.

PH: No, but I can, I can take sloppy things.

HL: Yeah.

PH: I mean, I can take [inaudible]—

HL: What do you think of those bags over there?

PH: Well I haven’t looked at it [HL laughs]. That pseudo [inaudible] or treated thing, I can understand that, and I don’t care if it’s—I don’t care if Chihuly’s baskets are lopsided or anything. But these cannot be, because these are precise and mathematical, and they look like engineering things. They look like truncated propeller [inaudible].

HL: Mm-hmm.

PH: And truncated—airplane motors.

HL: Well, it’ll come.

PH: And I want to see ‘em clear. I don’t want to see that garbage floating around in there because that’s such a luminous, beautiful field—

HL: That is pretty good glass though.

PH: That’s pretty good glass. But they’re not in the league with this.

HL: No. And they never will be because you see, this is not worked glass. See, when you begin to gather [PH talks over HL inaudibly]. And Steuben—well, in a sense they cheat. [HL laughs]. They deliver a predetermined gob of glass that is the total amount that is going to be used for that particular piece. And they deliver it out of the bottom of the furnace and—that gives them no gathering cords at all. See they have a platinum stirring rod in the, in that end of the furnace. And they have, in the throat between the melting chamber and the working chamber, they have a platinum liner—platinum is absolutely inert in glass. And they have that platinum liner that the glass passes through and, and is heated more, in that, in that constricted throat of the furnace. So that it’s all designed to give them the perfection of glass. And the colorlessness, I mean, that’s what they sold it on. In a sense though, when you see things like some of Jamie [James] Carpenter’s pieces, translated to that glass, it takes all the heart out of it. Takes all of the history of the piece. You can look at this glass or that [inaudible, probably a type glass] which is worked out of the furnace. And through the gathering port you can begin to see that the history of the making of the piece and that’s a part of glassmaking.

PH: Yeah. It’s just born like a crystal with Steuben.

HL: Exactly.

PL: And then it [inaudible] from the outside with the stuff from the 1930s.

HL: Well Steuben always, from its conception in its present form, was our copy of Orrefors [Orrefors (glassworks), Småland, Sweden]. They looked around in 33 to make the best glass in the world, and they looked to see what was the best glass. They said that was Orrefors.

[Someone enters the room and conversation becomes unintelligible; tape stops and starts again.]

[When tape begins recording quality is poor and conversation is mostly unintelligible for several minutes before tape is stopped again. It seems that Klaus Moje is in the room.]

HL: You see here, this is the—

Klaus Moje (KM): Yeah.

HL: But I’m always going to end up with a few.

KM: How do you feel about that?

HL: Well, when the glass has this high an index of refraction so that—then it seems to me, alright.

KM: Hmm. [PH interrupts inaudibly]

HL: In this one, you’ve got a thinner section of glass, so you’re not dealing with—It ought to be better on that one. But each piece sort of leads to the next one, and so I put up with —with some imperfections in one, because I know the next one’s going to be better and the next one’s going to be better. But maybe that’s my optimism, but I don’t know how they’re—

KM: But I think you’re, you’re working so perfect. And this puts a little bit of—part of life into these pieces. And I don’t [continues inaudibly]—

HL: This is commercial glass here.

PH: Yeah.

KM: Yeah, I see that there [continues inaudibly]—

[recording stops and starts again with better audio]

PH: Next decade, Harvey, what’s going to happen in the studio glass movement? More makers? Less makers? More working together?

HL: I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface—of the glass yet. And that’s sort of pun—a bad pun. But certainly—the young people are beginning to discover the surface of the glass, the ability to cut into it, the ability to polish it, the ability to do a lot of things. Art Reed, for instance—has gone very quickly from the—

PH: Lithyalin.

HL: —Lithyalin to exploiting the cutting. and I don’t know if you noticed on this one, he is beginning to do—to take advantage in his cutting of things that he did in the hot forming of the glass.

PH: Yep.

HL: Okay. The—just the [inaudible] beginning in this piece. But I would venture to see that a lot more. This one is beginning to discover movement.

PH: Yeah.

HL: You see—

PH: So that the cuts are, are—

HL: The next 10 years—

PH: Wormed in that—

HL: —is in the pieces we see today.

PH: In—improving on them. Doing the thing [PH and HL talks over each other inaudibly].

HL: —in going beyond what’s happening. This is the section—the part of glassmaking that in the early days, I exploited with a lot of folded forms. I did one, one exhibition where I had a whole period of flowers which were blown very thin and collapsed and re-melted. The piece in the Modern is one where I smashed it and re-melted it. That dates from 1964. Well, these happened to be my sons and his girlfriend’s work [John Littleton and Kate Vogel, now married]. And their dealing in this folded bag concept of glass. And of course with the color. And one of the things in terms of color, I think we’re going to do, because it’s so expensive to run three or four furnaces to have a palette of color all melted at the same time. I’ve been talking to a young artist who has been hired by industry and is the director of a Vitriarc [Thomas] Enamel Company. They make steel and other enamels. And his name is Bill Helwig. Well, they’re a natural to begin to melt cullet for the glass artist. We’re getting it from Germany now, the Kugler, but we’re getting it at 10 and twelve dollars and fifteen dollars a pound. Well we can’t go on that way.

PH: Mm-hmm.

HL: Our preliminary study indicates that Helwig can melt it for maybe two or three dollars a pound and come up with, with nicer colors that are more compatible with the glasses that many of us are using. And he might even be able to adjust their melting schedules if we can get our orders big enough.

PH: Is they’re gonna be—do you think there’s going to be any American making of color comparable to Kugler or—

HL: Better. Much better. Much better. Because you see the people involved in the glass industry here in America today are unique in the history of glassmaking. All you have to do is look at the bulletin of the Glass Art Society and start to read a couple of those panels to realize that, hell, these are people who are trained as artists, who are talking to glass technologists from industry, and the glass technologist for industry are saying, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. We’ve been thinking a little bit along those lines, but we haven’t gone that far.’ It’s the people that we’ve got involved in glass today, by introducing the glass into the university art school, as another material for the artists, which was our basic concept means that you have—you see, we’re the only country that has the—art in a university. With a free exchange of students from physics and chemistry and sociology and anthropology and so who are shifting over and taking art. Fritz Dreisbach. I don’t know if you know him very well.

PH: Yes. I don’t know him well, no.

HL: But he has an undergraduate degree in mathematics. He has a graduate degree in mathematics. He has a master of fine arts in painting, and a master of fine arts in glass. These kinds of people were never attracted to the arts before. Never—it was never possible. Kids were apprenticed at fourteen. The Fachschule [German trade school] graduates—they start at age fourteen. For Bert van Loo to go back to school took a special act of the ministry of education in Holland because he already had a degree in—in pharmacy.

PH: Mmm.

HL: And—but you see, what we’ve got is, we’ve got seventy five percent  of our graduates of our art school of our graduate students in the American art schools like University of Wisconsin where I did this stuff, came to us from other disciplines. English, all kinds of things. Some of them write beautifully. Some of them have the ability to, to research in a tremendous way.

PH: I’ve been a painter all my life. And the contrast with painters who were absolutely monosyllabic and cannot communicate. The contrast between that, and these kids who can describe exactly and precisely what they’re aiming for—

HL: Yeah.

PH: What they’re doing. They’re articulate.

HL: Never in the history of mankind have we had these kinds of educated artists.

PH: Except maybe in music.

HL: Well, in rare instances—you know—take [Emile] Gallé. Gallé was privately educated and his father had a very broad outlook of what it would take to make him able to run his business. And he gave him natural history and natural science. He gave him physical science. He gave him the engineering background in the German factories. He gave him all of this—thing, and he was—he was a poet, a sculptor, and a writer. And, so he foreshadowed the kind of people we have today.

PH: There were very few. I think Georges Bontemps was probably the most—was more articulate—broadly based.

HL: Yeah. Tiffany of course, was highly educated. And Carder himself was a principal of an art school—

PH: Hmm.

HL: Before he came to America.

PH: Yeah.

HL: [René] Lalique was quite well educated.

PH: Hmm.

HL: And of course it shows in all of these pieces, but they were the exception.

PH: Yeah.

HL: They were not the rule. What we’ve got today, and this is a literal art explosion in America—

PH: And the anonymity and the old factories—when you couldn’t even sign a piece suppressed everything—

HL: That’s right. But today you have the young people able to encompass the total technology. They go beyond me so easily—

PH: And these secrets are all out of the woodwork.

HL: We have those basic things. Well, of course, this was one of the things my father worked on. It was a very big thing to get the Corning Glass Works to allow the scientists to publish. So he was really the first physicist to go into the glass industry. But they worked together—in the English, the whole French glass technologists who came to the house when I was a child, and so on. They all worked together and they worked together with [inaudible] and George Morey, and they developed the glass division of the American Ceramics Society and then the international commission in glass. All of this, were, were, were developments to expand and to exchange information. And that whole expansion and exchange of information is typical of modern science. And it had come into the arts where it never had—was in the arts before. But as you get these people who are able to research, able to read, and able to go to libraries and to do the experiments, they’ve been trained in experimentation. And this is the—nothing is beyond them.

PH: Mmm.

HL: So as soon as they’ve mastered all of the eclectic and gone through all of the eclecticism. They’re going to be pushing beyond it in the next 10 years—

PH: And they go through the eclecticism pretty fast too.

HL: Very fast.

PH: Like a dose of salt. [HL laughs] It’s amazing.

HL: Very fast [PH and DL talk over each other inaudibly] We were talking about Art Reed for example.

PH: Yeah. And. you know I talked with Art Reed, and I said, ‘Have you, how many pieces of Lithyalin have you seen?’ And he said, ‘Oh, maybe one or two.’ He said, ‘I’m not quite sure.’ He didn’t even quote know what it was—

HL: There’s some bad historians. Some of them, but they’re too busy working.

PH: Yeah.

HL: You see, a lot of them are into it. The worst are—are into it on a kind of—activity basis. Like they’re into mountain climbing or surfing. They’re into glassblowing—and the product doesn’t mean so much.

PH: Mmm.

HL: But the ones who are trained as artists and whose career is art. Now, I’m not talking about the pseudo factory people but the small factory. Like the Orient & Flume [Chico, California] and so on.

PH: Mm-hmm.

HL: But the ones who are really artists, are going to be pushing on into new—

PH: And there’s going be an opening collector market for these things.

HL: Absolutely, and the collectors have to have to be able to spot the ones who arrive, because they’re the ones who—who are going to be changing in an almost kaleidoscope fashion—as they push further and further along in their directions.

[recording ends]