Paul M. Hollister Collection, The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass
Transcribed by Bard Graduate Center
Title: Paul Hollister Interview with Tom Patti, March, 4, 1983 (Rakow title: Tom Patti interview [sound recording]/with Paul Hollister, BIB ID: 168377).
Tom Patti, Interviewee
Paul Hollister, Interviewer
Location: Paul Hollister’s apartment, New York, New York, and later possibly at a restaurant
Christianne Teague, Transcriber
Barb Elam, Editor
Lauren Drapala and Barb Elam, Summary
Date of Interview: 3/4/1983
Duration: 111:29
Length: 55 pages
BIB ID: 168377

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.

The work of American artist and designer Tom Patti (1943– ) combines his longstanding interests in art and science, whether in small-scale glass sculptures or large architectural commissions. Patti earned a BFA (1967) and an MFA (1969) in industrial design from Pratt Institute, studied perception theory at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1969, and studied glass at the Penland School of Craft in 1970. Patti also was involved with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), an organization cofounded by Robert Rauschenberg to foster collaboration between artists and engineers. Throughout his career, Patti has focused on nontraditional materials, such as industrial sheet glass and plastic, and has created works whose architectural qualities challenge the viewer’s sense of scale and depth. Patti established his private studio in Plainfield, Massachusetts, in the 1970s.

Summary: In this interview conducted in Paul Hollister’s home, Tom Patti rejects the prevailing tendency to categorize artists by their chosen materials and discusses combining glass with plastic, his working process, and his refusal to make utilitarian pieces. Topics range from a portable annealer Patti’s brings with him to restaurants to collectors and collecting. The interview ends with a discussion of a large-scale work Patti was creating for General Electric’s World Technical Center using a high-performing plastic developed by GE. A portion of the conversation is devoted to looking at slides of Patti’s work.

Mentioned: annealing ovens, Robert Carlson, Sydney Cash, cold sealing, collecting, drawing, extruding, General Electric, Glass Art Society, Heller Gallery, Max Leser, Lexan, Lucite, microphotography, Antoine Pevsner, photography, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, plastics, polycarbonate, Paul Rocheleau, Ken Rosen, Paul Stankard, vessels, William Warmus, Steven Weinberg

Related assets: Paul Hollister, “Monumentality in Miniature.” American Craft 43, no. 3 (June/July 1983): 14-17, 88; Paul Hollister, “Tom Patti: The Code Is in the Glass.” Neues Glas, no. 2 (April/June 1983): 74-83.

Paul Hollister (PH): Alright, what is this? March fourth. Tom Patti, here at the apartment. Let’s see how it sounds.

Tom Patti (TP): March fourth.

PH: Yeah, I think it’s the fourth.

[break in audio]

PH: Already, well, you said that if I started like that—working with the little electronic parts and combining things and painting them up and so forth—it didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in easel painting or pastels or something anymore. Which is—

TP: I just—

PH: —quite true. Quite true. And so—

TP: You know, that I just—

PH: —when you’re now—

TP: The hardest thing—

PH: —combining plastic with glass. Before we get into what way and all that, but you haven’t stopped using glass. I don’t mean for the future, I mean now.

TP: No, no. No, the interest is in—at the same time, when you make a piece of work, you give the material certain credibility. You have to be, I think, in a way, working to deny that material. And if the material can survive its existence in the object, then you’re giving it meaning. You’re giving it a right to exist. But you have to, I think, continuously try to, in a way, deny the existence of the material and then in that sense, you make it valid in the work. If there’s better material, there’s a better thing that fits that idea, then I think that you should pursue that. As long as glass works for me, I’ll use it. But at the point it doesn’t, I’m not gonna defend glass. I’m not a glass artist in the sense that I have to defend the material glass. I’m an artist that’s working with glass. And before that, I worked with other things. Hopefully, my work is strong enough that it goes beyond the material. It’s just that in the late seventies, eighties, everything is so material-oriented that you’re considered a glass artist or clay artist or all those things and in the training, these people—you have, I’m not trained as a glass artist.

PH: She’s just thinking of categories. Because after all, that’s a craft magazine and they’re doing it. It’s either this material—

TP: I don’t care. It’s—

PH: —or that material.

TP: —you know, craft at its best it’s when it defies those categories. The strength of what crafts is is the fact that people—what originated at different times where people that came from other disciplines. The interest in people within just—

PH: Okay, will you—

TP: —outside of, after the guilds, it was more of a Renaissance type of person that started working with materials. In the fifties and sixties, they came from many different disciplines and worked with it. It’s like now that you can—it’s only relatively recently that the universities are now beginning training, discipline in one, in a material. When can you major in glass? You usually majored in the broad aspects of a discipline. You know, it was never like a material. And so, now we’re supporting the universities’ ability to establish a program around a material and it’s not my training, it’s not my thinking and it’s not my ideas, and I really can’t support it.

PH: It was all of the potters going into sculpture under [Harvey] Littleton, I mean in the glass under Littleton that made glass a legitimate and separate sort of material. Or a separate sort of craft. It wasn’t basket weaving, it wasn’t clay, it wasn’t ropes.

TP: When it got into the university, it confronted people that had ideas that went beyond just the material. They found the material exciting that they could pursue their ideas in initially, and they weren’t even thought to be—at the time, you weren’t a glass artist, you were somebody with an energy or an idea pursuing a material. I can’t speak for these people. I have no formal glass training or background. I didn’t go in a university and teach, and pursue that avenue. I wasn’t promoting a material or an idea or a way of working with it. Not enough to be an educator. Not interested in pursuing it as an educator.

PH: Mm-hmm.

TP: And I don’t know, try to put a handle on that, I think it’s—

PH: The term, I kind of like the term. It puzzled me at first, but I kind of like the expression you use of denying the material. What you mean is, that you’re making the material subsidiary to the idea that you’re trying to express. It just happens to be in that material. But it isn’t the material that’s running the show, it’s you that’s running the show, just happen to be using that material. Just the way Sydney Cash happens to slump glass but also combines other things and they—

TP: I think that you inherently have an affinity for the use of the material, and it comes off as a certain quality, and it’s an asset to the object or to the piece, and, in fact, that the use of the material, they coexist. I can’t separate them. I’m not denying the material saying that glass is no good, I’m saying that while I work on a piece, I’m totally involved in the use of glass—

PH: Right. You have to be.

TP: —as it relates to the object. But at the same time I’m going with it, I’m trying to find a way that—I’m trying to deny its possibilities at the same time. As long I can support its use and see its beauty and see its ugliness and beauty at the same time, I have no difficulty with it. But—

PH: Well, when you say deny, you don’t really mean deny. You mean supersede, you mean work around it or work—

TP: I think it’s sympathetic with it. It’s working with it, Paul. It’s a sympathetic relationship. I think I have a natural feeling for materials in their plastic stage, whether it’s glass, plastic, even metal forming certain kinds of things. I think that I’ve developed a vocabulary and a way of seeing and a way of thinking with these materials in that I can interpose these kinds of things and in fact, that many of the qualities I bring to glass don’t come from the glass world. They come from other areas of technology—industry and technology that I brought to the glass.

PH: For instance?

TP: Well, it’s hard to talk about it, but talk about the process. When we first started to look at my work earlier when these planes and edges came in the glass, and glass at the time was all these round—

PH: Round.

TP: —very organic shapes and you started to recognize the emergence of these rectilinear shapes as glass and that was a person at the Ford Museum [The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan], I believe, a friend of yours—

PH: Ken Rosen?

TP: —that mentioned in something that I had taken commercial glass, or the color and the quality of commercial glass and brought it to a form and made us see it a way that it hadn’t been seen before. Like that.

PH: Where did he say that? Do you know?

TP: Very early. But you and he were saying the same kind of thing. He said it in print, but you had often said that to me, but not in print, that kind of thing that—

PH: Yeah.

TP: —the quality of green in commercial glass was not thought to be—I never saw it as an impurity, I just thought as another value of green. Or blue. Or blue-green.

PH: I’ve always liked it in Steve [Steven] Weinberg’s stuff. In fact, I miss it now in the new pieces. I like the new pieces, but I’m so used to the green with it that it was a characteristic of his work.

TP: Ah, well. I agree. The interesting thing with the tint, with the glass of these subtle values is that it separates it from the space around it. You know, that it will sit there as a form—

PH: Yeah.

TP: —as a thing and not get involved in the optics of glass as we traditionally know it. It’s not an attempt to make glass like water that we’ve been preoccupied with for hundreds of years.

PH: Great. That’s great. Thinking of glass, of the container form, the vessel form, as an endless, infinite circle, infinity, just keep going around everywhere.

TP: You’re saying the vessel form—

PH: Suddenly, here as you say, it becomes a thing that has to reckoned with in its own right because its edges are limited—

TP: It was never—

PH: It’s sharp—

TP: There was never an attempt to make a vessel.

PH: Yeah.

TP: You know, I—

PH: You just used the blow form in sphering the cube—

TP: —it was simply bringing these abstract elements together, working sculpturally, but never to make a utilitarian object. Somehow I think as a process of absorbing the forms or vocabulary today of shapes including the vessel form, but just like the automobile, the airplane, the satellites as a shape in space. A form that’s not influenced by gravity. A form that takes a shape that isn’t limited to a base or anything. It’s an open-ended form that can tumble and move through space. These are the shapes and these are also our vocabulary form that we have available and [PH and TP talk over each other inaudibly]—

PH: Of course, these stand.

TP: —it’s not one of a vessel. It’s not just—

PH: No.

TP: —it’s not of a vessel form.

PH: No, no. Did you ever think of closing the top of it? That would be difficult to do. You’d have to [inaudible]—

TP: No, there’s no problem closing it. I think that—

PH: What do you feel is the advantage of keeping it open, because it was part of the process?

TP: Not necessarily. I think that—

PH: To eliminate and the same thing I feel with [Robert] Carlson’s stuff. Those perfume bottles. I wish he’d leave the stopper off and close them because as cubes, they’re marvelous.

TP: Yeah. I think with the opening for me it’s that hidden complexity that [clock begins striking] I’m after. It’s adding another word in a very subtle way to a language that—

PH: Is it adding it or it’s already there really?

TP: That it shows a thing. You know, they’re open. Some of them are completely sealed. They’re completely sealed for the gas to expand at a point.

PH: Oh, yes. That’s something I gotta get into.

TP: See?

PH: I didn’t know anything about that. When you said that, that just really astounded me.

TP: So it’s an intent.

PH: Aah.

TP: So what we’re looking at is what appears in one sense as you perceive the object, you can see it as this kind of dichotomy of things. You see it both as a closed form, something solid, and as you approach the object, you see the opening or you see an interior and an exterior and I’m just fascinated with this ability to have a thick wall and a thin wall in the same form. That there’s no rule that says that there has to be a volume that’s either sealed or open. That with this kind of opening that it can be both. As you move below or above the object, the opening is something that’s revealed. It reveals itself rather than exists there continuously. As your eye moves up and down the form, the top cuts it right off dramatically. It’s not a lip, Paul. It’s not a form that has an opening. You know what I mean? It’s not something that’s peeling out that wants you to look into it, but as the form moves down—

PH: It’s there.

TP: —Paul, Paul. As it moves down—or as it moves up or down, all of sudden it’s gone and you’re confronted with that planar two dimensional shape. Right? But because it’s glass—and as you go above it, it would open up again. But at one point—

PH: You’ve lost me.

TP: Because they’re both two dimensional, because they develop in planes, they’re developed two dimensionally—

PH: Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh.

TP: —so there’s this constant two dimensional relationship with the volume as a three dimensional form.

PH: The volume is—

TP: It’s like taking a drawing. Paul. It’s like taking a drawing and expanding it three dimensionally.

PH: Here, the volume is what I’m thinking of internal volume. Here it’s big; here it’s very small. It’s almost disappeared. It’s almost been squeezed out of existence.

TP: Right, and here, and it’s the same thing. Here it is because it’s opaque in there and if you didn’t know anything about glass—

PH: Suggested that’s hollow.

TP: Right. It’s suggested.

PH: Right.

TP: It’s not an attempt to show you—

PH: You feel that it must be hollow. If you stuck your finger in there and it hit the bottom right here, you’d be real surprised.

TP: Right. Right. But it’s not telling you where it is.

PH: No, it’s just saying that it’s there. In the top one, it’s like a burp that’s just about to burp in the left, next to the left.

TP: The interesting thing here is the progression in time. That there’s no—right? Even this. That although this is my body of work that there’s no one rule. There’s no rule or style that says that the bubble is a certain—that I’m not just producing a bubble to make a thin shell form in glass.

PH: Oh, no.

TP: Right? From the earlier work, the bubble becomes an element, an elusive—

PH: I’m wondering why you never closed the [inaudible] off—

TP: —an element.

PH: —because you tell me know. Tell me about this gas thing? What’s with this gas?

TP: You know, my interests. I’ll talk to you about it in general terms, but my interest is not to make the—you know, there’s so much of this attitude of technique that prevails in this kind of thing—

PH: I’ve tried—

TP: —I’m not gonna support it and I’m not gonna—

PH: I’ve tried to get away from that and it—

TP: There’s just too much of that going on and it’s a real—it’s inability to try to deal with the content of the work itself.

PH: I think I did it too much with some people—

TP: And this is—

PH: —and I’m trying to get away from it. But I wanna know—

TP: Let education, let that happen in the schools, not in—

PH: What it is—

TP: Well, it’s simply, it’s there’s a—

PH: You blow it up with a bump or with a hose?

TP: No, there’s actually a very small opening in there—

PH: What do you do you blow—you stack the stuff—

TP: There’s a small opening on the top that’s made in one sheet, one plane of glass and only two or three drops of a liquid is sealed in that beveled area—that cored area. It’s sealed and then it’s heat that expands the liquid to a gas at a rapid—and like any liquid it will expand at a certain temperature. That temperature at the plastic range of the glass happen almost simultaneously. Sometimes it fails—doesn’t work. Sometimes the seal breaks and there’s a whole sequence of things it creates a lot of problems. But it’s that seal and the thing expands, just with temperature.

PH: You mean it’s supposed to—the liquid turns to a gas at the point where the glass is malleable.

TP: It’s in the plastic range of the glass, when it goes from—

PH: Solid to liquid.

TP: Never goes to a liquid.

PH: What’s the liquid you put on there?

TP: Never goes to a—that’s, so, I’m not gonna tell you because I know that you are interested in making these things.

PH: Oh, God. [laughs]

TH: And that you’d use this.

PH: I wouldn’t make one of these in a thousand years. [laughs]

TP: You would. I can see it. I can see you doing it here. I oughta tell—one of my first annealing ovens, because I was interested in working with it, I took an insulating brick and cut it in half and hollowed it out. I took an element out of a rotisserie, a nichrome element, and I put it in the brick and I used to go and I’d visit somebody or I’d go in a restaurant. I’d sit near a socket and I’d put glass—and I would slump and form glass while I was having my meal or visiting people.

PH: While eating. Did you ever make a glass egg? A three-minute glass egg?

TP: [laughs] And so I’d have a little timer and I’d just keep control of it and I’d just wrap it over with a little asbestos fiber thing and people in the restaurant—a few times, like people would smell something like getting hot, so they’d look around. That was one of my ovens. It was a portable annealing oven.

PH: Why, you’d do it—

TP: I thought, I should have brought one today.

PH: Why’d you do it when you were in a restaurant—that’s all we need here.

TP: It was electricity. You know, it was free access to electricity.

PH: [laughs] You didn’t have any other place you could plug in, right?

TP: That’s it.

PH: Just in diners. Trucker’s diners.

TP: Anywhere. I’d visit friends, and I’d just ask them if I could—

PH: Plug in?

TP: —if I could use the socket for a while. You know, twenty minutes.

PH: Carrying all this glass around.

TP: Bring it up.

PH: Creating this—what did you do when you got it hot?

TP: That’s it. Then I just shut it off because the brick would let it cool down [inaudible].

PH: Then what the hell did you do with the glass?

TP: I photographed it. All my early work—I didn’t keep any objects, I told you—

PH: I don’t want to go back to—

TP: —’til 1976. That’s when I—

PH: ’76. When was it I wrote that thing? Was that ’76?

TP: ’75, actually. Around ’75, I started keeping work. ’75, ’76.

PH: Well—

TP: ’77, I had the first exhibition.

PH: At Heller [Heller Gallery, New York, New York].

TP: Yeah.

PH: At Heller on Madison.

TP: Yeah, which was—

PH: Contemporary Art Glass Group.

TP: Yeah, which was about two and a half, three years of work.

PH: In ’77. Do you know what month that was?

TP: I remember I had my hunting jacket and coat so this must have been in—there was snow upstate [inaudible]. [laughs] I don’t know, probably around this time of year maybe.

PH: Well, Doug [Douglas Heller] will know.

TP: I had the invitation. Do you have the invitation? On the—

PH: For the first one?

TP: Yeah. When was it? It was—

PH: What did that have, the red thing on it?

TP: It had the one that went in the Met [Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York]. The kinetic one.

PH: Oh, yeah, I have that invitation.

TP: Well, that’s the date of the show.

PH: Yeah, but I have it in an ephemera box with eight million [trails off] I never remember—

TP: —remember?

PH: Yeah, I never remember those. I never went for those. They had this dentures look about them. Not excited by—that’s an interesting one. This suggests—there were some you had that looked like Japanese stone lanterns. Did you ever see any Japanese stone lanterns?

TP: Not really. I mean like—

PH: I mean, did you ever see pictures of them?

TP: No.

PH: Would you like to see a picture of one?

TP: Sure. Let’s—get out your lanterns. Put a little light on the subject.

PH: [softly—as if far away] Let’s see. I hope there’s one in here.

[tape stops and begins again]

TP: Yeah, I’m not consciously aware of them—

PH: —being like this or like that. You’re not—

TP: Yeah, my source is something mysterious to me, I think. I think it’s not a conscious effort to use a particular source for my work, and I think this is why this interest for the last fifteen years or whatever with the glass has kinda evolved a progression, an evolution of form. Its base isn’t in any object that we know exists—

PH: Yeah, you don’t see—

TP: —It would be rather short-lived, I think, if it was, you know.

PH: You don’t say, ‘This looks like an electric locomotive to me, therefore I’ll put a panograph on the top of it.’

TP: Yeah, and it’s not like I’m not interested, you’ll hear I’m not interested in archaeology one year and found—

PH: objects.

TP: —object next year—

PH: [laughs]

TP: —and this the next year.

PH: Yeah.

TP: And meanwhile your work is changing and it’s got a hole one year and no hole in the other and as you get interested in these things—we’re looking at seven, eight years of work here. Again, just the proximity of one negative to the other is—it sets up interesting dialogue, doesn’t it? The opaque and the clear—that range—that somewhere existing. The geometry of the top here and the geometry of the top there, the organic body here.

PH: There [inaudible]

TP: Look at this. Look at this—

PH: —the top is pretty solid—

TP: Look at this thin body expanding area in here and look at the sameness. You see it’s the ability, this range of an idea existing here. Both have a [inaudible]—

PH: It’s carried through.

TP: —the body in the base—

PH: They’re much more than—

TP:  Look at it.

PH: —these two are much more like each other. And these two are much more like each other.

TP: I think there’s beginning to emerge in the work four or five directions—in the work, and what you’re beginning to see is relationships. Me being able to maintain these things in my mind, in my subconscious and to start weaving, there’s a process of weaving elements going on in the work now.

PH: You mean weaving past strands together?

TP: I think that only after we’ve gone through it, can you sit back and look at it and say these kinds of things. I don’t consciously say this—

PH: No.

TP: —when I’m working. But look at the convexity here on this surface and this one in section, you’d see this—I have another slide of this. I’ll show you.

PH: That’s very concave looking to me. I can’t see where it’s—

TP: It does from here, but it’s come out quite a bit from this—

PH: —flat plain.

TP: —very planar, center element here. So it’s—

PH: You mean it’s like that. It’s like—

TP: Yeah. Yes.

PH: —an animal’s eye. Protrudes. Bulges. Yeah, I know in painting I keep coming back to the same X or the same triangle or the same—

TP: It’s coming back. It’s—

PH: —a step ahead, I’m beyond, I’ve moved beyond to something else, but I’m coming back to the same theme, and unless I get the old one out or I’m going through an album and I find it, I don’t realize that I’ve done that at all.

TP: Yeah, and that’s why I don’t have a lot of shows. I’m not interested in selling the work, in a sense. I’m interested in creating a vocabulary of work that I can use as for the work.

PH: Yeah, right.

TP: And so, to make work and sell it seems a little ridiculous when these are the tools. Why sell your tools if those are the things you need to do your work? And these objects, to me, in a way are tools. They become the tools for the work.

PH: What do you mean by sell your tools? What do you mean, sell them?

TP: How many people would sell the tools they need to do the work? So the objects that I generate or that I make—

PH: Oh, you mean you don’t like to sell these.

TP: No, I mean they are the work—themselves, right? So it seems kinda foolish to get caught up in, to the object, gallery selling syndrome, you know. And having shows every six months, a year, and things travel from one place once they’re out of the object—polish and they’re gone. It’s not my way of working.

PH: Isn’t it funny, [Dale] Chihuly couldn’t care less. Once he’s photographed, that’s it.

TP: Well, if he has a document, if he’s involved in the photography of it, that’s fine.

PH: Oh, he is. As much as with the work.

TP: Yeah. Well, I think that’s valid. I think you get certain information from a photograph and I’ve been very involved in the photography of my own work. I do all my own photography and it’s a way of, again, working with the work. I don’t give that up to a photographer, that part of it. To me it’s just another way of looking at the work. I spent a great deal of time with a camera around the work, and that’s what talking, bringing the work, and showing it at conferences or things like that, again, it’s a way of looking at yourself and looking at your work. But to take an object and just to be through with it, I think is—I think they are the resource for the work.

PH: See, I think visually, and I think I write in terms of objects, visually. And I paint in terms of ideas [laughs]. It’s funny. But I can’t help but put a label on something the minute I see it. I thought of these things as the globes in front of the plaza. Well, it’s a handle and when you’re describing something to people, you have to use it. The funny thing is the New York Times cuts out every adjective I use. They won’t have any descriptive words.

TP: Well, I think that at the same time—

PH: —and I work very hard—

TP: —you draw mental images. You’re trying to draw images of the thing.

PH: I’m trying to draw a picture that will—

TP: But it does it so literally, Paul, that it makes—people don’t, I don’t think, want—they want to think of art as more abstract.

PH: Well, I know, but I give them a choice. I give them two or three.

TP: —and when you draw up to an object and you make it that literal, you cut out—

PH: —the other things. But that’s why I give them two or three, you see. I say, ‘and this—‘

TP: Then you’re looking for relationships. Then you’re asking people to find relationships between what you’re saying. You may be intellectually able to deal with it on that level, just like I can handle many ideas over a long period of time and find relationships between things. But an article, people are doing the same thing that you initially said. They’re looking for a handle and you gave them the handle so quickly that they don’t realize what’s in the pot, you know? That’s why, in way, I think that me trying to come to terms with this stuff is to try to understand the work that I do itself, and when I finally come to that understanding, the work itself will be through.

PH: But you can’t ‘not say nothing’ about them. I mean, for instance—

TP: Well, that’s why I’m here. That’s why you’re doing the writing, not me.

PH: That’s right. The suggestion that this has, to me, and I can’t give you anything specific, which is probably good, but that piece has a suggestion of power. I don’t mean that it’s a powerful piece. It suggests to me something to do with some kind of a power unit, some power station or substation, or a thing that has ten thousand volts that you keep away from it or you walk around it or you can’t—there’s a great deal of current or something running through there. Maybe it’s those wires down in the bottom.

TP: I think it takes what we call, we use grossly the word “technology” and it kind of loads it up with elements—

PH: It has undertones of—

TP: —with elements of something.

PH: —of some kind of technological power transmission or source or something.

TP: For so many years, we tried to show our hands on the work and I think that’s much of what the movement in clay—

PH: —in clay.

TP: —was about. And rightly so, was to bring the hand back—was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution was to bring the hand back to the object—

PH: Yeah, that’s good.

TP: —or to show its path in the object.

PH: That’s very good. Mmm.

TP: And I think that my interest in the sixties and so on was really to remove, to take the hands away from the object. And in a way that’s probably why it took my work, I think, a while to catch on, because the interest, the steam of everything building up was to have the hands-on thing, even in glass, was too hands-on. And for years, my work, there was no trace of the hand to the object—

PH: —decorating the surface or the inside or layering.

TP: Yeah, it was an intellectual response to the material.

PH: Yeah.

TP: To what was going on. It wasn’t—

PH: No, that’s a very big—that’s a good one. That’s very usable.

TP: But in fact, of course I couldn’t do this without my hands. The work, the strength of it, wasn’t the hands are necessarily how it was done. It’s the quality that you’re trying—

PH: No. I wouldn’t—

TP: —to put words to know what you see there. And it’s twentieth-century language; it’s not a language of the eighteen hundreds.

PH: No, no.

TP: And this is not—

PH: This is why I keep coming back to this thing of where you have the liquid that’s turning into the gas and it’s closed up. Why do you always open it?

TP: There’s several techniques that I use—that’s one.

PH: I thought you blew ‘em, you see. I thought you picked that thing up with a blow iron, picked it up on the end and blew into that package until you got a bubble.

TP: I think that opening compliments the thickness. It’s that kind of complementary relationship that exists, the thick and the thin. That form from one view is very thin. You turn it on its axis—180 degrees—all of a sudden the thing is—

PH: Very wide.

TP: —very thick and very wide. And I think the opening represents maybe that same kind of thing, the denseness of the glass and then the openness of the glass. It closed off and—

[break in audio]

The interest is not just to put two planes parallel to one another and have an opening. You can see a year, two years later, that interior plane starting to move out. Again, not completely closing that surface, making a volume again, but it’s just subtly. You see the bottom is open—

PH: By interior plane, you mean this thing in here is now going out that way

TP: There’s actually—this is a composite. You know, there’s several in here—

PH: Yeah, yeah. You can see it’s going out to the edge.

TP: This is no longer just an element in here. Now that thin interior element—

PH: This is the later one?

TP: The more recent, yeah. That plane has become part of the volume and these become legs underneath. See this little passage? It’s a passage for light—

PH: Mm-hmm.

TP: —under the forms, so now, there’s this kind of area of light that is inscribed—

PH: You mean across the form, at the base—

TP: It penetrates.

PH: —rather than under. Does this thing stop before the bottom?

TP: Yes.

PH: Does that?

TP: Yes.

PH: So it’s up here in the middle and then the feet are down there.

TP: Yes. But you see, this subtle relationship exists around the entire form where here it’s on the plane. Right, it’s in here, and again, these aren’t parallel. They’re on a—

PH: No.

TP: Right. What appears is this kind of subtle thing—

PH: Slight difference.

TP: —where at first you look at any of the shape and say, ‘Oh, it’s very simple.’ And you approach it and see these two parallel planes and then you look at it again or look at it from a different angle and you find out that they’re not parallel, in fact.

PH: They also look a little soft and curved.

TP: They are. But here, two years later, coming back and seeing that form evolve.

PH: You’re almost working back toward the form on the right. But, of course, you’re there on the one on the left in very different ways. I like that solidness down there on the bottom. I like that. I like this very much in here, and I like that little electric ‘bzzzz.’ [PH makes buzzing noise]  I can hear a current going through that thing ‘zzzz’ [continues making buzzing noise]

TP: I think—

PH: You cook toast with that.

TP: —in trying to describe the kind of thing you talk about, you talk about it as though it’s something all made completely working and that if you brought it home plugged it in, it would do the same thing that the guy told you it would do in the store.

PH: Yeah. Right.

TP: And I think that that quality is in anything that I think that it’s resolved or finished. It has ability to look like it works or do something. Whether it’s a painting or a sculpture—

PH: Well, we use the expression—that it works. This one works.

TP: And these things, I think they work so well, that I think they could be either the machine or a component of something and that they would—they either are the technology or they’re a component—

PH: Of the technology. Yeah. It works. [tape stops and starts again] What I was saying was that that painting that I just showed you, to me, works. I can lie in bed, and I can see it in reverse in the mirror and I can see it the way it was painted, but everything functions. The spaces are right, the directions are right the atmosphere of the thing is, it somehow all fits together, and I feel that while a lot of my paintings don’t work, that one does. And in that sense, I think I’m saying the same thing that you say here, where you buy this component or this unit or part or whole thing or whatever it is that you’ve made, you buy it in a store, you take it home, you plug it in, and it works.

TP: Right.

PH: It’s the same kind of thing. You don’t have to say what it is, but it functions.

TP: And I’m saying that the process you use, by using the mirror as a way to think about your work or to use it as a tool for understanding your work, you didn’t have to make another painting. You used the mirror to reflect another way of looking at your work. I’m saying that as one object relates to the other, it’s a way of looking at—

PH: Mmm.

TP: —the previous object. And it’s this—

PH: Yeah, two Pattis—

TP: —And it’s this way of justifying the object that goes before.

PH: Two Pattis are better than one in the sense that you play them off against each other.

TP: That’s why I’m interested in also—I’ve become—

PH: Only sell twos. Two-fors.

TP: No, the relationship of the collector to the work. The collector that gets involved in any artists’ work starts to get involved in the process, the relationship between one object and the other, and I think it’s a plateau that one reaches in collecting an artist’s work. When they start to see the relationship between one object and another, they’re no longer just buying glass or buying a painting, but they’ve made obviously at one point a mental commitment to the process that the artist is involved in and they’re starting to be able to select an object at different periods and times within the artist’s work—

PH: Yeah.

TP: —and I think that’s fascinating that collectors are at that stage where that’s happening. I think in glass—I think it’s always happened with a good collector, but in glass it appears to be happening.

PH: When I collected paperweights—

TP: The indiscriminate—

PH: I wasn’t happy with just one. Another one brought something to the first one that it didn’t have by itself.

TP: That’s it, because—

PH: The third one showed something up in the other two and so forth.

TP: But I think it’s unique when we get involved in a particular artist’s work and instead of looking at these four by five transparencies that if you had the objects in front of us how could we—we could be talking about them in the same way.

PH: Yes, it would almost be more interesting from a collector’s standpoint to see a few collectors collect many examples of one person’s work, whether it’s John Nygren’s tadpoles, or Chihuly’s things or your things or whatever, so that they have a real good range of the work of maybe two or three people instead of one object of so-and-so and one object of so-and-so and one object of—which is a museum—clinical.

TP: I think the interesting thing in my work, Paul, is that most people that own my work own more than one object. I think it’s real interesting that they—

PH: Hmm. Is that true?

TP: Yes, it’s very true.

PH: Even at your prices.

TP: Even at mine.

PH: Lincoln Continental—

TP: Mine are the—

PH: I mean, prices, you could get a Lincoln Continental. You could drive anywhere in the U.S.

TP: With the price of gas, it’s still cheaper to buy my glass [laughs]

PH: Yeah, but you got the gas in them.

TP: With these you travel with—

PH: And the rest of the gas is what you say about them.

TP: —in the mind [TP and PH laugh]. Really.

PH: I want to get rid of these two. Is that?

TP: No.

PH: Is that?

TP: No, the other way.

PH: It’s not that way?

TP: No. The other way, put the clear on the bottom. See, what you’ve done is you recognize the sculptural possibilities of the form. If you can’t—the same thing.

PH: Of course I knew which way to put it. I was just trying to—I want it this way.

TP: Right.

PH: I like that.

TP: That’s the sculpture potential. So it’s obvious that I could either close the bubble up, turn ‘em upside down, put ‘em on their side, manipulate the form any way I want, but that’s—

PH: You know what it’s like?

TP: —that’s—

PH: It’s like the first few seconds that they show of the atom bomb out in the Pacific atoll.

TP: Moving through space.

PH: No, coming up, the thing beginning before the column forms. It’s going, it’s showing the stages—

TP: The sequence of it, yeah.

PH: And that upward push is wonderful. Why don’t you make one and grind the thing off here so it doesn’t wobble and leave the bubble on the bottom like that? I think that’s terrific.

TP: Yeah, well.

PH: This—to me it looks like a Cadillac in a parking lot. Somebody’s big expensive car sitting there—bluump [PH makes a sound like something heavy plopping down]

TP: I think if they exist in this stage, they allow the observers to rotate it in space. When you fix it the other way, I think that it limits the potential for the thing, for the object, in a way.

PH: All you do—turn it is sideways. You see the end view. But you could do that.

TP: You’re aware of the series I’ve been working on for seven, eight years now, the inverted ones. Just because I don’t exhibit them, that doesn’t mean that—you’re saying, like—

PH: That’s right. You do have some inverted ones.

TP: Of course. The point we’re trying to make is that what you recognize is not something that I haven’t recognized—that the potential, the possibilities of what can be done with it. But my work, my aesthetic, my interest, is not showing how much I can do with it, but how well—and to give it meaning within a very narrow range rather than as—I don’t have to show off how many ways there are to put the form around. I have to put it in a way that has meaning to me, for that particular thing.

PH: Alright—

TP: And there are certain objects that I explore that range, but it’s a very discrete area of exploration for me.

PH: Alright—

TP: And it shows that concavity on the interior, on the bottom, on the side, in many different directions, but it just happens. It’s a very personal thing. I don’t show work for two, three years while I’m making it and—

PH: Part of what bothers me—

TP: Half the ones we’re looking at, it happens to be there.

PH: Part of what bothers me on this is the background.

TP: You have to look close to this, Paul. Look at this piece. [TP possibly gives PH some kind of magnifier] I want you to—

PH: Oh, yeah, I love all the ‘oogles and googles.’

TP: What appears to be one plane is two planes, parallel to each other.

PH: Yeah.

TP: This is plastic in glass.

PH: Which is the plastic?

TP: This is the plastic is the clear area—the wide, the thick area.

PH: The green?

TP: That’s predominately plastic.

PH: Really?

TP: Yeah.

PH: This is what? 1982, 3?

TP: That’s 1981.

PH: And some of that stuff in there is plastic.

TP: That’s right.

PH: You mean you just glued it to the glass?

TP: No.

PH: You melted it in?

TP: I don’t do any—there’s no gluing.

PH: How the hell did you do that?

TP: It’s actually called cold sealing, if you’re involved. They don’t use the word properly. There’s the term for what’s going on here—bringing, laminating materials together. All my glass—there’s no gluing or bonding in my work. It’s all mechanical.

PH: It’s hot-sealed though.

TP: That’s right.

PH: Yeah, but how do you hot-seal with plastic?

TP: You wanna know all those things. I know what you’re intending to do. Set up a small studio.

PH: How do you get? You’re doing just exactly what you always accused [Paul] Stankard of doing. ‘Oh, no sharing.’

TP: No, it’s just not—nah, I’m talking about the work. I mean it’s all there. For those—

PH: How do you get the plastic?

TP: —people that are interested. It’s irrelevant, Paul, and I’m not gonna cater to that kind of thing. I would show you or get you involved if you’re really interested.

PH: Tell me about—

TP: But I’m not gonna support that kind of thing.

PH: Tell me now the—

TP: It’d stimulate more interest and more directions in glass if people get away from that kind of thing.

PH: Tell me about the stuff that looks like the edge of a piece of plate glass. The green. The light green colored stripes. Those are plastic?

TP: That’s right.

PH: Plastic. You call it plastic or what do you call it?

TP: Well, it’s a particular kind.

PH: You don’t give the name?

TP: No.

PH: Particular kind.

TP: No.

PH: Alright. And how about the bubble? Is that plastic or is that a glass space?

TP: It’s a space. It’s both materials.

PH: One thing bothers me about this piece is the photography. Why don’t you have it all against black?

TP: I always think it’s interesting. I’ve been fooling around with—

PH: I don’t like that break there. That’s why I think I like it this way.

TP: Yeah, see. You always put the sky up above [inaudible] your landscape.

PH: That’s right.

TP: You know, you put the solid—

PH: Yeah, but even if it were black. We could get something real black—even if it were black—

TP: I didn’t photograph that. Paul Rocheleau, a talented photographer, photographed that. I told him to try different things. You know, I gave him the liberty to try different things and—

PH: There. I like that.

TP: I do, too, but it’s interesting—I think it sets up an interesting thing there. Whether it’s successful, I don’t know, but I find it stimulates—

PH: I think it’s very interesting with the all black. I’m talking about this in terms of an illustration for the article.

TP: Okay, I think it’s dramatic, I think it’s a nice way of seeing it.

PH: This way?

TP: Yeah.

PH: I like it against the black. It’s—

TP: It is nice, isn’t it?

PH: Gives it a gem-like—

TP: That kind of gray, that blue-gray.

PH: Yeah, because then the only thing that shows its shape are the green lines, the pale green lines. That’s the only thing that shows the shape. How come the plastic is a pale green? I thought it was white, clear.

TP: It is.

PH: Well, why does it look pale green? Is it picking up color from the glass in-between?

TP: Actually the plastic isn’t, it’s almost a blue.

PH: The plastic?

TP: Yeah. It has a kind of a—

PH: You mean this really looks a blue-ish?

TP: No, it’s a blue-green. But it went in there, actually, the object is a little more blue. It’s slightly green-ish.

PH: It looks slightly greener than the—

TP: It’s a blue-green.

PH: Uh-huh. Because it looks so much like the stuff in the bottom, which is obviously glass, right?

TP: Yeah, but see that’s where—that’s green. That’s [inaudible] green.

PH: And that’s real glass. Isn’t that real glass?

TP: That’s [inaudible] green. Yes. The other one, it’s a blue-green and that’s the influence of it—that’s the plastic.

PH: Mm-hmm.

TP: In glass. I mean, the blue of the plastic and the green of the glass come together there, where the green dominates it, slightly.

PH: Yeah. Yeah.

TP: But as a blue-green. See the difference.

PH: Yeah. In [inaudible] glass—the insulators are blue-green.

TP: [softly] Insulators.

PH: Yeah. You know, there are.

TP: Yeah.

PH: They are blue-green. It’s a copper or something. Geez, I’d love to see that against black. Don’t you think it would be dramatic?

TP: I’m not interested in, you know, dramatic. I could photograph it more dramatic. It’s—

PH: Well, I mean, part of it is the illustration. Otherwise, you don’t—

TP: I like the sense that it has a base.

PH: —Otherwise, we just sit around and bullshit and have a lot of—

TP: But I like the sense that it makes the base—it suggests a base. You know, there’s no—the mind is what can manipulate it through space.

PH: I keep that—

TP: I don’t have to illustrate that the ability for it—

PH: You’re looking at—

TP: —to move.

PH: —You’re looking at readers in a magazine, now.

TP:  I think that’s dramatic, Paul. I don’t, you know—it just needs to—

PH: Cropped.

TP: Yeah, a little. Take that and it has a nice—

PH: It would be nice if it were sitting right on the edge of the white so that it didn’t show any, you know, the black came right down to the—

TP: Look at the difference.

PH: No, I don’t mean that. I mean that this black came right down to here.

TP: I see. Like straight—

PH: Let me show you. By sticking that—

TP: Yeah. That kind of—it’s gonna drop off. Do it. That’s it. You did it. [laughs] That’s it.

PH: Like that.

TP: Yeah. Right at the—

PH: Right under the bottom, I think would look more dramatic than this. What was that, on a light panel? The white?

TP: Yeah.

PH: Or was it—

TP: Yeah.

PH: —a light, over a light box or something?

TP: I’m not sure. I wasn’t with him when he did that.

PH: I’d like to see him take one like that for the magazine that’s that way. Do you have the piece?

TP: You have some interesting ones here. Yeah. You’ll see some interesting ones here.

PH: Here’s the cobra. Well, you’re gonna put dates on these for me, aren’t you?

TP: Yeah. When you decide what you want. I’m so busy, Paul, the last couple months that—

PH: Well, look, can I keep them a few days while I’m writing the article and then—

TP: Yes.

PH: —and then I’ll put numbers on them and you—

TP: Yes, yeah.

PH: —tell me.

TP: What I can do it, today or whatever, is do a sketch of each one and number them.

PH: You don’t have to do a sketch. I’ll put labels on each one, sticker.

TP: But you won’t know because you’ll have them. I won’t know what they are. [laughs] I need a reference. So if you call me and I can then send you the information. Size, date and time, right? Size, whatever.

PH: [sings to himself]

TP: Remember that, Paul? That was in the exhibition.

PH: This one?

TP: Yeah.

PH: Yeah, I think I remember that. I’d like to have that one in there just as a starter and the red one is a nice one too. There was a lovely deep red one, and you went up in price, I think, to seven or eight hundred dollars or something on that one. Christ, I thought it [snaps fingers] two fifty—

TP: Bargain.

PH: —I’d buy it.

TP: History’s always revealed that collectors—makes—makes the money on the glass.

PH: [sounds—probably of slides being manipulated in a carousel] I know, you told me that lovely story that you’ve made millionaires out of people. Now this is a fairly recent one where the inner part has come back out to the sides. [whispers to himself inaudibly] But this one, I remember, we had one like that when you gave—

TP: Oh, this is the same one.

PH: This is the same as this?

TP: That’s it. That’s the—

PH: Uh huh. I remember that view of it. It’s quite interesting.

TP: And there’s that [phone begins ringing in background]—that complimentary view.

[tape stops and starts up again]

You could take these things off the base and really put them on a wall. They fail as sculptures, but graphically, they’re illustrations with glass, and I think that this relationship of the two-dimensional and dealing with it in the form and then rotating it shows you the potential as a three-dimensional form and you want to call it sculpture, that’s fine. But it’s—the interest in this complexity of form.

PH: Yeah, it looks quite flat and—

TP: As you rotate it—

PH: —in one view as you turn it on what is really the narrower edge, it looks much wider. Isn’t that right?

TP: Yeah, it’s entirely—

PH: Isn’t this distance greater than this distance?

TP: Yes.

PH: So the—

TP: That’s an optic of it.

PH: —the front view—

TP: If we’d look at it at the front view—

PH: —the thing looks thinner and smaller than the side view, the end view, because there’s a bulge in the end view.

TP: But it’s the relationship of these curves and surface—

PH: Yeah.

TP: —these subtle things that take place on the interior and the contour of the form that give—it’s again, it’s the visual element of these—what’s going on here that gives you that impression.

PH: That’s that Met-like one isn’t it? Metropolitan-like.

TP: These are stepped up, Paul. And so, the bottom isn’t the bottom. It’s not a plane.

PH: Okay.

TP: Right?

PH: Some of these—

TP: It’s another surface. You could take it—

PH: —on some of these, the bottom—

TP: —You could—

PH: —is raised in between the fins, or the struts.

TP: Right, and the same with, you know, you have this activity on the top and the bottom. Sometimes there’s no bottom as we know a form to be, as sitting there. I think that’s another distinction between something that has a base or a vessel form, that this object, the bottom is treated as a surface, as important and visually, it relates to the sides or the top of the object.

PH: Do you have pictures of any that you have that are upside down pieces?

TP: I think we have some in the slides I could show you. This is a beautiful piece, Paul, here, that—

PH: That’s nice. Yeah. I like the little eye-like things off.

TP: I think this is interesting in that to be able to have this vocabulary relatively early in the work. Right? This piece goes back I think about 1977, right? And it’s been a progression of simplicity. It’s eliminating all the detail and moving for the simplest components—relationship of elements in the simplest, most direct way rather than this kind of complex, plastic surface. Here, remember—

PH: Well, it’s a lot trickier, I know, this one.

TP: Right, and this is a very early one.

PH: I’m just wondering what this would look like. It would be interesting to see one with a series of things, bands like this or verticals like this running across it in a horizontal form. I consider that a horizontal form with vertical bands running across that were not symmetrical, so, in other words, here we’ve got a greenish and then they have a grayish and then clear and then we’ve got the tans and then the deeper tans and then the light green. If you think of this as being cut off here so that it’s no longer a—it’s like the one you gave me, or I bought, or whatever happened.

TP: Right. I am doing that in the work, Paul. It’s just that it’s work, I’m working on. I’ve been working on it for a long time.

PH: And some of these things are plastic, are they?

TP: The newer ones. When you put ‘em up, I’ll show you.

PH: Is that one?

TP: In there, there’s a component, but it’s a very small one. I work directly in there, I do a lot of technical investigation on the work, but I keep separate. When I start working with the objects in scale, I start combining materials and processes and if they work, if it’s altogether successful, then I may keep the object. But in fact, probably ninety percent of the time, it will fail for one reason or the other. In all the—

PH: You want more coffee?

TP: —no, thank you. All the objects that become terminal, finished forms and that seem that they go out either exhibited or that I keep, are those that kind of survive. They’ve all survived this process of testing and development.

PH: What do you do with the others?

TP: I’ll keep them as scraps to study. They all reveal certain kinds of information to me, a kind of a dialogue.

PH: But you don’t sell them or intend to sell them?

TP: Of course not, no.

PH: This one has a—

TP: It’s a beautiful one, Paul. See the subtlety of it, where this—

PH: Two cradle shapes.

TP: See—it’s actually in this [inaudible] area—

PH: Saddle.

TP: —that—

PH: It’s like a perfume bottle. It’d make a nice perfume bottle with this part, the stopper. Twist this.

TP: Yeah, they’d make great cufflinks, the two of them.

PH: They’re a little big.

TP: [laughs]

PH: But it would make a lovely perfume bottle, wouldn’t it?

TP: It’s interesting you talk about the scale of it—the size of it.

PH: Now this interests me. I didn’t notice this before. This edge, it’s as if was just a bunch of laminated things that weren’t necessarily all cut off even. It’s irregular, isn’t it, there?

TP: Yeah, it’s so where you see that there—

PH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TP: But there wasn’t necessarily a need to come back—

PH: Here it has a brickwork look. I mean every other one comes out, and then there’s a depression, it comes out of the depression, it comes out. But here it’s some come out, some go in and then one comes way out. Was that just sloppiness or was that what?

TP: No, I think it’s partly what I talked about is that each object is an experiment. And that my intent isn’t to make something optically, it’s not the sense of perfection in terms of the technical thing, that it visually holds together. I don’t look for those kinds of things. As your eye moves over it and if you look for—you’re trying to understand how it’s made or put together and so you perceive those kinds of things. But if you grasp it as a form, my intent isn’t to make something perfect.

PH: No.

TP: It’s to make something that has an aesthetic integrity.

PH: I know, but the only thing is when you’re describing this to people, and I have to describe this to people, and I think of these things that are irregular and so forth because they’re part of an experiment.

TP: I think—

PH: And then I think of the price tag on them. I say, ‘Jesus Christ, I don’t want an experiment. I want a finished product.’

TP: What is an experiment? I think that a finished—you’re looking for a finish of—I mean, any art that becomes a finished product, I doubt that you have anything that you’d want to call art. I think if you know what you’re gonna make, when they start to look like that, you already know what they look like. Most of these things that have that kind of look, Paul, they knew what they looked like before they—there’s very little challenge and risk that takes place in them. And they’re boring, in fact, visually. It’s when it has certain energy. I don’t think any of those things become a problem to deal with visually. It looks like it’s gonna fall over, fall apart, or whatever, but I don’t think it has a feeling that it’s safe. You know, at least when I made it, I didn’t know where I was going when I started it, and so if you put all your attention, especially with glass, on fabricating assembly, it loses its spontaneity. There’s a certain energy that’s reflected in there.

PH: Yeah, but you see the equivalent of it in drawings. It’s the equivalent in drawing of draftsmanship.

TP: These are sketches. They exist as—

PH: Yeah, but they’re awful expensive sketches.

TP: What are you talking—how can you put a dollar value on the integrity of the thing?

PH: You do it. You put a dollar—

TP: No, that’s not what you’re discussing there. You’re trying to say that the fit of it has something to do—

PH: How much is that?

TP: I don’t know.

PH: Roughly.

TP: I don’t know. I don’t wanna, you know, again you want to deal with that kind of issue.

PH: Well, I mean, you’ve got prices on them. You put them in exhibitions, you’ve got prices on them. How much is the price on that one?

TP: I don’t know. I’d have to look it up.

PH: Well, I mean, what is it? [clock begins striking] Two hundred? Or two thousand or—?

TP: No, I’m sure it’s probably over ten thousand dollars.

PH: Okay.

TP: I think that’s in a way part of the strength of that particular object. That it still works and holds together that way. In that, I didn’t have to come back and smooth out that surface.

PH: If it was even more irregular, it would be interesting.

TP: You know, I mean, when you start thinking like that, then you would eliminate planes and edges and those kinds of things.

PH: I remember going into Heller and looking at a whole bunch of your things and turning them around and saying, ‘This guy’s got astigmatism.’ Every one of them tilted, the bevel on the top, tilted, and I thought, ‘My God, if I’m going to pay five hundred dollars for a piece of this glass electric shaver, I want one that’s got a nice even top that’s not going this way when I turn it down or that the lid, hat brim is going this way on one side.’ It would disturb the hell out of me—as a purchaser—as a collector.

TP: Well, you don’t have the—

PH: Now, they’re ten times that expensive and I feel it ten times as much. That they ought to be beautifully [claps hands], beautifully made and they give that illusion, especially when you get going on all of those microphotographs and so forth. You’ve got that Bill [William] Warmus kick of microphotographs which show the tortured surface and the scales and all, even a sunburn looks beautiful when it’s enlarged five hundred thousand times.

TP: No, Bill’s very sensitive to seeing more than just the contour of a form. Bill has the ability to look and examine. It’s interesting from a curator’s sense of view that he looks at the form and he looks at small elements and he’s able to read these as part—

PH: No, he reads them at five hundred times the normal size, but you can’t go around—it’s like selling that Oxford Dictionary. You’ve seen that Oxford Dictionary. The two volume, with a magnifying glass that goes with it?

TP: You started to talk about scale and size and perception of things, Paul, but it’s your eye moving over the form, as you can—it’s like a journey, it’s a trip and you’re exposing and you’re revealing certain things. You look into the deep values of gray. Some things are obvious and then you start reading it and you get involved in the components that make up the thing. It’s still part of the same journey with that particular— [break in audio]

PH: I’m sure it’s working, I’m sure it’s working, I’m sure it’s working— [break in audio]

TP: Not working.

PH: Now I’m sure.

TP: Come back. I’m not working, I’m not working.

PH: Now I’m sure. Now, I’m going to get my magnifying glass. [pause for 16 seconds].

[. . .]

PH: Let me see some little slides.

TP: —I think the interesting thing you don’t talk about is the size of the objects, right? When everybody is struggling to make things and to deal with—

PH: Oh, that’s one of the nicest things about your work, I think, is that they look like monuments, they’re as big as jukeboxes. And you have the feeling that they’re just as big as they are. Whatever they are, they are. And there’s no feeling that they ought to be bigger. Max Leser’s now trying to make these great big things, everybody wants to do that. I think it’s a big mistake.

[. . .]

TP: I can’t talk about, in the case of other artists, I think that that’s part of what the artist’s struggle is to deal with that. I mean, if they didn’t challenge their work in other scales and sizes, that’s wrong. I think that it’s important for people to push against the size of things, but I think it’s—

PH: Oh, I don’t think so. I think they’ve—

TP: I think they have to justify it within their own work.

PH: Paul Klee’s paintings are all small, and they’re just perfect that way. Why should he try to do a huge thing?

TP: No, I think that’s important—

PH: He was comfortable that way.

TP: I think it’s, again [phone begins ringing], it’s not the word of an experiment, but it’s pushing your idea in size, in— [break in audio]

PH: Yeah.

TP: I think the point is substance over size. That’s really what you’re talking about.

PH: That’s right.

TP: It’s like—

PH: But there’s a certain substance that won’t carry.

TP: Content in terms of substance. Not glass in terms of substance.

PH: No. Content.

TP: Content over size.

PH: That won’t carry—

TP: Well things that—glass, it’s like I push it both ways—larger and smaller, and I find relationships that exist in a certain size. And for me, at this point in my work, this is the size that best conveys my work. And that’s communication.

PH: What is the biggest one that you made?

TP: I’m not—it’s not a point of finding out how strong I am and how much glass I can lift or work. But I think that’s important too is to push those limits of the material. But in this case here I’m pushing—

PH: You’re not pushing ‘em.

TP: Yes, I am. I’m pushing the limits the opposite way. It’s not how big you can get—

PH: Smallness.

TP: —and still have it successful, or work, but it’s, in a way, how far can we reduce that and still have it work. It’s like [laughs]—

PH: That’s right. Your first ones were the biggest, weren’t they?

TP: Yeah, it’s not different—

PH: They were almost fishbowl size.

TP: Yeah.

PH: That’s right. They were. And the one I liked was a nice handful.

TP: And it’s a point at which you start dealing with the glass. The young goes out and tries to lift and move the mountain and so on. And as you get wisdom, it’s finding where to push and where to pull from to accomplish the same thing. In my case, it wasn’t how big it could get and still work, but it was how could I bring the size of the form down and have the scale of it give my message.

PH: But you don’t worry about that much. You feel pretty comfortable within the range of, say, six inches and—

TP: No, I feel very comfortable within a range of two, three inches high to about a foot. I have no difficulty working that.

PH: Have you done any that were a foot? I mean, aside from the early ones?

TP: Well, you saw those early ones with things and some of them—

PH: Yeah. They weren’t a foot, though.

TP: Oh, yes.

PH: They weren’t more than eight or nine inches.

TP: Oh yes, they were.

PH: That red one? The nice red one? Just like the one I like, but only red, with a red globe?

TP: The more freeform pieces were all larger.

PH: They were as big as a foot and that was back in what? ’75 or so?

TP: Yeah, before that even. In the ones that are only a foot—the ones that I had mostly photographs of, which you’ve never seen the objects, because the object isn’t around anymore. Most of those were all larger than that. That’s why it would take two of them, right, on either side, or components of them to build a piece, right? But often that piece was this big. Remember the gray ones? There was one that was a gray one and I exhibited. That piece was like that. But there were others that were this tall. The two of them that came up.

PH: Geez, I don’t remember that. I don’t remember anything that I thought was any higher than that.

TP: You may not have seen most of those because there were only two that I kept. A gray one and one other.

PH: Well, the one I like, the one I said was gonna be a classic was no taller than that.

TP: Right. The ones that deal with this format, Paul, were within that range.

PH: This was no more than say four inches.

TP: No, that’s not.

PH: Was that higher?

TP: That’s like this. Yeah, it was a pretty good size.

PH: Okay. So that you got here, this one.

TP: Yeah, that’s about right. Six inches.

PH: Yeah. I still love that thing. I think it’s a wonderful—the waves going, lapping around the edge of it there. It’s really so nice. You really sphered the cube with that one. It’s before you got into this grilled cheese period. So but now, you’re really concerned with little things like little dots, of bubbles, and strings, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh.

TP: On the contrary, you saw the new work, there’s very little.

PH: But you were in the middle period, you were doing, what—around ’80, ’79 or ’80, you were doing a lot of that.

TP: It’s actually from ’77 to about ’79.

PH: Cause I heard you do a lecture in which you became almost hysterical. And you were so excited. You were talking about the, ‘You see this line here and that line conjuncts with this, but this doesn’t actually touch it, but it appears to touch it, but this is just a hairline here and this is a slight gradation. It’s a different gray.’ It was all that.

TP: Because it was the subtle things, Paul. Because the resource was within the work, and I created situations in the work that I could look and it would reveal things to me that could generate other pieces. Right? They seemed to be very complex.

PH: Yeah. That had been going on in it. There’s that invitation to the thing. It reminds me of your things. And that period. Crystal Palace.

TP: Yeah.

PH: They were thinking of me to give that talk, but they got this other guy.

TP: You see that activity localized in an area.

PH: Yeah.

TP: And you can see these broad areas and surfaces coming out.

PH: Yeah.

TP: In these planes that later come out.

PH: Yeah.

TP: Right.

PH: This is an old photo that’s turned purple, is it?

TP: No. That’s the color of it. [noise as of paper turning]

PH: Okay, I like that. I like that little hole in the side there. That little hole that water comes [inaudible] underneath the hat brim.

TP: I think they suggest, in the process set up method for working them sets up problems for myself that I can solve. That I go about trying to solve.

PH: Well, in a way, it would be interesting even if it were a thing that you didn’t know how it was going to turn out, it was a random kind of a thing and you put these things together and said, ‘Well, let’s just see what happens.’

TP: That’s often the relationships that are created.

PH: And then it went and happened and you said, ‘Gee, isn’t this great when I turn this look how—’ Then you could use that—

TP: But those things always happen. It’s the ability to—

PH: —to use it for another one.

TP: —to use it or to recognize it. These things happen continuously. Most people that bring forms don’t just—once they, quote, “exist,” they’ve been recognized. They just don’t pop out. There are series of them, they’re a series, there’s a process of sequence, there’s a sequence of happenings and then it’s recognized and then it exists.

PH: Let me just ask you something. I have one prejudice against plastic. I understand what you’re doing. I have one feeling against plastic. I go around and I see galleries, there’s one about three blocks from here on Madison and they have things that and I say, ‘Good God. Did that guy do that in glass? That’s incredible. It couldn’t be glass. It must be Lucite.’ And then I look and I realize it is Lucite, even without feeling its temperature or its hardness or anything. I can tell that it must be plastic without touching it. And I have a real contempt for plastic.

TP: Hmm.

PH: Especially when it moves in on the field of glass. I feel that it’s cheating glass and that it’s the same feeling I carried over from paperweights—these guys like Stankard that are knocking themselves out to simulate a flower in the paperweight and then a guy comes along and takes an actual wildflower and just pours a bunch of Lucite around it and there it is forever and that damn thing, it doesn’t fade or anything and it’s absolutely real. It’s cheating.

TP: It’s not the realness. The strength of a Stankard paperweight is his interpretation of the flower.

PH: I’m not—

TP: He keeps to the source fairly true, but the strength of them is his ability, his subtle interpretation of things. Maybe it’s an effort to make things that can’t be made in glass. And maybe he’ll never achieve that realism. I think he’s accepted a point that you can’t do certain things, maybe, with the glass. But he’s never—

PH: You can’t do them inside glass. You can do them outside glass.

TP: Yeah, but he’s accepted a reality that says, ‘Well, I can get as close as I can get.’ And what they’ll see is Stankard’s way of getting there—

PH: Mm-hmm.

TP: —and I think it’s a very honest, valid way of working.

PH: Oh, I do too.

TP: It’s how—

PH: I do too. It’s just what I mean. I have—

TP: The Lucite thing doesn’t allow for any interpretation. It’s showing you, ‘Well, here it is. I’ll just—‘

PH: That’s right, and as I say, I have a—

TP: And that’s why it doesn’t work for you. But you’d be surprised how many people buy those things.

PH: I know.

TP: More people buy those than will ever buy paperweights. Because they’re not looking for interpretation.

PH: It’s gonna be impossible to get me to think of Lucite as art. Anything made out of Lucite as art. It’s gonna be one hell of a job. Now, I did see, and I’m perfectly willing to admit this, an exhibition up in the old Parke-Bernet building several years ago—seven or eight years ago, of Lucite sculptured forms that just reminded me of [Antoine] Pevsner’s work. You know Pevsner’s work? It reminded me of that. They were wonderful. They were that Italian Futurism and striding guys in galoshes kind of thing. But they were much more abstract than that. They weren’t figures or anything. They were about this high and I thought, ‘Good Christ, if only that could be cast in glass, wouldn’t that be something? Why don’t some of these people get some factory resources behind them and try and do that?’ It’d be absolutely wonderful in glass. But I felt there was something contemptible about them in Lucite. Even though they were beautifully done.

TP: That’s the challenge. I mean, I think it’s a challenge to deal with the scale of pieces, that people should push the material as far as they can. They should confront it with other materials, other ideas and test your thinking. That’s the challenge. That’s the role of the artist. That’s what the artist can do that most people can’t do and that’s—

PH: Alright. You’ve given me a very good answer for it. I can print that.

TP: Who else can [inaudible]? I think it’s challenging. I’m working on that project for the GE—the World Technical Center—

PH: Tell me something about that.

TP: It’s fascinating. I’m—

PH: What is it?

TP: We talk about size. I’m working on a piece that’s forty feet high. It’s eighteen feet wide, forty feet high. I mean, the ability to work in this scale, to think in this scale, has not limited me to this size.

PH: Right.

TP: It’s enabled me to work—

PH: What’s the material?

TP: Plastic.

PH: Poly—

TP: It will be done in polycarbonate.

PH: Polycarbonate. Is that—

TP: Yeah, you want to get into the—

PH: Is that a generic term or is that?

TP: Yes.

PH: Is that the name of this particular plastic?

TP: Lexan. It will be done in Lexan.

PH: Spell that.

TP: L-E-X-A-N.

PH: Lexan. Okay.

TP: And it’s General Electric’s high performance plastic.

PH: What does it perform?

TP: Well, it has high impact resistance and it has the whole series of properties. Electrical. Ultraviolet resistance.

PH: Ultraviolet, yeah. Resistance.

TP: Weathering properties.

PH: Oh—

TP: It’s a—

PH: And this is what they’re gonna make there.

TP: This is one of five plastic materials that GE has developed and is developing further that—

PH: For use in what?

TP: For application in industry and household use and industrial use.

PH: Uh-huh.

TP: It will find its way into the mainstream of—

PH: It could replace some kinds of glass or something?

TP: You know, it already is. Your bus stops, those little canopy structures at the bus stations, I believe most of those are Lexan and Lexan-type materials. On your subway—the windows in the subway things are Lexan. The GE—they’re the top of the Jeep, I forget which one. The whole roof is made of GE Lexan. They can make a part that is—I believe over one hundred pounds. One component. And it’s not just a flat roof, but it’s a thermo-formed surface.

PH: Mm-hmm.

TP: Glass is thermos-formed. It takes heat to form it, and it cools and maintains that shape. Plastic does the same thing. It has the same qualities. The thing is that you’re sensitive to certain subtle qualities in glass—

PH: In glass. That I have—

TP: —that you recognize and that you’re sensitive to. Many people can’t tell the difference between glass and plastic in things.

PH: Oh, God, I can tell it right away.

TP: And even in lenses. The optical properties of plastic. People have it all the time. The same person will deny the properties of plastic, and yet he’s carrying a camera that has plastic lenses in it [laughs] and he uses it.

PH: I got plastic lenses right here [taps something] That’s a tough plastic.

TP: Right and everything you see is filtered. The reality of things that you see are filtered through the lens of plastic. The point is that if you compare the materials in terms of their ability to be translucent, opaque, transparent, they exist parallel to one another. You get into other things: hardness—

PH: Refractive index.

TP: —Fatigue. Tensile strength and so on. Sure, there’s contrast in that range. But in fact, they come together and they move apart in very interesting areas and those relationships when put together reveal very unique relationships.

PH: So, when does the use of your plastic—when did you start using it with your glass?

TP: About three years I started working with plastic and glass. But I hope so, I had a background in plastics before I was involved with glass. My medium was plastics and latex-type materials and that was my pursuit—that’s what glass was for me. It was just another material with another range. It’s similar to that.

PH: Do you have a bio, a typed-up sheet?

TP: Yeah. A bio. I have something. But my interest in stuff—

PH: What you studied and stuff?

TP: Yes. But my original pursuit in glass, was, again, an evolution of my early work which you didn’t want to hear a great deal about, but—

PH: Oh, I’m not—bubblegum in the trees. I remember that period. I’ve seen you give that talk three times.

TP: But my use of glass was a pursuit of a particular kind of logic that I’d been using for a number of years and as long as I—it’s [inaudible], I’ll use it. But I didn’t go into glass, because it wasn’t glass art when I was using it, it was material to explore my ideas with. And it became glass art [laughs]. I mean, glass art is something that someone else came up with.

PH: But you had a back problem, didn’t you? When you fell off the roof and so forth.

TP: Yeah. Yeah.

PH: When did you fall off the roof?

TP: That was in about ’76, I think. But that just slowed me down for a while.

PH: But that slowed you down.

TP: That was building two studios. You know, I do all my work myself and that was one of the hazards of that.

PH: And where was that?

TP: Savoy.

PH: Savoy. You were still in Savoy. It was on the hillside there.

TP: Yeah.

PH: I remember the building, the photograph of the building.

TP: It was—

PH: I’m just trying to get some of this material [inaudible] include a sentence or two. And you told me, I remember when we talked a long time ago, that you said your back was giving you lots of problems and that you couldn’t work with glass above a certain size. It was too hard to manipulate and so forth.

TP: Not really. No.

PH: You’ve gotten over the back thing? Or is it still all messed up?

TP: I can work. [sound of ambulance sirens in background] I can do anything, but the time period is limited now. The muscles tighten up in the back and it starts to get painful and I lay down. I have a cot in the studio, where every couple hours, I just lay down flat, and after a period of time, it goes away, and that’s just something I have to live with.

PH: Is that lower back?

TP: No, upper back. It’s in the arm area. That’s why—

PH: Do you have exercises that you do for it?

TP: Not really. Just—it’s interesting. The more it’s—there’s a certain amount of work that I can do. If I don’t do a lot of work, it will aggravate it. So there’s this kind of balance between—

PH: Too much or too little.

TP: That’s right. And if you don’t do enough work, it will create more problems. I’m away from the studio too long—

PH: It’s all in the upper—what is it?

TP: I broke the—

PH: Vertebrae?

TP: —I crushed three vertebrae.

PH: Oh, gosh.

TP: In thoracic vertebrae.

PH: Oh, God.

TP: Yeah, really.

PH: You have to do things like sit up very straight?

TP: Yes, like I have to move to find a position where my body feels right. It’s like I have to tell myself to—

PH: Oh, I do, too. That’s why I have this pillow [laughs].

TP: I’m sitting like this or something like this and I’m comfortable. You know what I mean? I have to like tell myself to put it upright, or you know what I mean, consciously put myself in a position to do that. But no, the size of the work, it was always a—my earlier work, the same thing, my earlier work was large. The piece I’m doing for General Electric will be quite large. But there’s a certain spontaneity that could result, working in this manageable scale, where I could generate ideas in a more spontaneous way working within that. And it just evolved, and it had its own integrity after a certain point. You know, the things started to work as finished objects. As very discrete objects, about 1977 is when I decided that possibly—and I had no resources, no more funds. My wife and I, we had a baby now. All our resources were exhausted through the process of selling the home and studio that I took so long to put together and I said, ‘Geez.’ I looked around and there was nothing. I sold everything that I could. I was working two, three jobs together and trying to do my work and I said, ‘Well, maybe someone would buy, someone could buy these things.’ And that’s when I met you in New York.

PH: What were the jobs?

TP: My wife owned a truck stop, a diner, and I washed dishes in the diner, and I was doing illustration.

PH: You were married at that time?

TP: Yeah. And I was doing illustrations for other companies. I was doing drawings for architects and doing other people’s artwork. I was designing stores, buildings.

PH: It’s nice to have this. Yeah.

TP: And I had, fortunately, my background at Pratt [Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York]. I had a lot of discipline in many areas and what’s exciting now is I’m at a point now in my life where I can start to go off and move into many areas and it’s exciting to explore all the possibilities and bring all my interests and experience to projects now. Where before, because of the economics and the problems and my interest in being isolated to do my work, to carry on my work, it—

PH: Tell me, do you feel now that you feel that you’re sort of coming to the end of a paragraph or a chapter and that you sort of wait and see how this GE thing looks—what is it? Forty feet tall? Eighteen feet long?

TP: As it’s defined now, they’re interested in me exploring the entire space of an atrium. The main lobby of the building—to explore the potential—

PH: Is it going to be the world—GE world center for what kind of a thing?

TP: Technical Center. World Technical Center for GE Plastics. Tech Center.

PH: Okay.

TP: The World Tech Center.

PH: T-E-C-H.

TP: Technical Center.

PH: World Tech Center. Or Technical Center. I’d like to just get it down exactly—

TP: World Technical Center. Technical.

PH: —so that we don’t call—

TP: Technical Center.

PH: Technical Center for?

TP: General Electric Plastics.

PH: For General Electric Plastics. That’s the title.

TP: That’s it.

PH: And if we got a brochure from them that’s what it would say on it.

TP: I’ll send you the information.

PH: Yeah. Send me the information. Quick.

TP: So you have it.

PH: Good. Yeah, I’d like to know exactly. And it’s in Pittsfield?

TP: It’s in Pittsfield, Mass. So, what it is is unique because as it’s set up, it’s a collaboration—the piece will be a collaboration between the architects that designed the building and the General Electric people that designed the materials. So, I have an office in General Electric now. I spend time in my studio, going back and forth from my studio to my office in there where I’ll work on the glass in my studio for a period of time and then I’ll just get in my car and go down to the plastics plant in Pittsfield and spend an afternoon with an engineer or a scientist and spend an afternoon meeting all the people within the plant if I have technical questions or whatever. People drift in or I’ll meet them in different areas of the plant, and we’ll sit down and discuss certain areas I’ve been working on or projects they’re working on. It’s fascinating.

PH: Yeah.

TP: I feel very comfortable working with these people.

PH: Sounds great. It must be fascinating to shuttle back and forth between the small-sized stuff you do at home and the sort of unlimited.

TP: It is. But the potential, working within this scale, for me, and not thinking of them—

PH: But you design an actual thing for them? You submitted the design and it was approved against other people’s designs?

TP: No, they looked at all the work I did. The architect and people made a visit to my home and studio.

PH: Yeah.

TP: And they reviewed my work. There were several other sculptors that were considered for the particular project, and obviously I was selected out of a few other sculptors to do this particular project. And I set it up as a collaboration—that I was interested in it being a process and not just taking a drawing, or making a model and saying, ‘This is what you will get a year from today.’ What they agreed to was that I have three, four months time to collaborate with the architect, the people in the factory, and the studio and to evolve a piece of work that considered the building as a space for it and to take advantage of the makers of the material, the attitude, the technology and to bring this all together, rather than to make an object and just apply it to the space.

PH: So you talk with them and then you doodle a bit and you talk again and doodle in your office?

TP: Back and forth. It’s just the way I’ve been doing my work for the last ten, fifteen years anyway.

PH: And the space is—the piece won’t necessarily be forty feet high.

TP: Not necessarily, no. But that’s the limits.

PH: That’s what the space to receive it.

TP: Right. I’ve designed some that penetrate the space that go through the wall of the building. Right? So there’s—

PH: And are these all of the plastic? Any glass?

TP: They’re all plastic or—they may incorporate some other materials, but it’s predominantly—I’m going to take advantage of the material that’s there.

PH: Yeah. That’s there.

TP: That’s it. And all the information, all the material’s there. And I don’t find it difficult at all. It works at a lower temperature than glass.

PH: What is the temperature?

TP: That’s all. I can work it below—

PH: Is it an outer and then it melts?

TP: It’s a petroleum product. It goes from a liquid to a powder and then the powder, in pellet form is—

PH: Heated?

TP: —heated. Brought to a liquid and then you have that range of—so you’re going from almost a solid to a liquid to a solid again, which was interesting, because that’s what much of glass was. You’d have all these ingredients. Remember through the seventies?

PH: Yeah.

TP: They take all these ingredients, throw them in the furnace, take this liquid material, bring it out in the room and cool it again. Where what I did is, I took material that already existed cold, and I simply brought it to a temperature where I could form it. And so, for all the time, most of my early experiences with glass, everybody was melting [break in audio]

Right? It wasn’t there.

PH: The petroleum—this plastic thing, it starts as a petroleum—I mean it looks sort of like oil or something.

TP: It’s a liquid. It’s a petroleum product. And it’s refined. It goes through a refinery.

PH: It’s refined so it gets fairly clear looking and then it dries and—

TP: It’s synthetic; chemicals are added.

PH: And then it powders up and then the powder pellets or whatever later—

TP: It’s extruded into rope—fibers, maybe an eighth, quarter, three eighths of an inch in diameter. These are cut up, chopped up, in a chopper into little pellets. Those pellets are then handled as the bulk product. It’s shipped; it’s sold to manufacturers, other people with molding equipment. It’s put in a hopper, heated up to a liquid stage through extruders or machines that can form it as a sheet or injection molded into a finished form. There’s a number of things. I mean, glass the same way. It’s handled in a very similar way. It goes in a hopper, it’s crushed. You know.

PH: You ever seen the Pilkington process? Oh, God—

TP: No. Is that the float glass? I’d love to see it.

PH: Ohhh.

TP: They do sheet glass. They extrude it.

PH: Yeah.

TP: I haven’t seen it. I’m going to a plant in Mount Vernon.

PH: It’s incredible.

TP: I’ll be going there to look at—

PH: Mount Vernon what?

TP: Indiana.

PH: Indiana.

TP: To look at the sheet-making place. But it’s extruded.

PH: Ohh. There’s a mountain, a hill, outside the factory. And the stuff comes, the hill is brought in, put in the hopper and in eight minutes—you can hear it crashing into the hopper.

TP: I’d love to see it.

PH: Ohh. Both ends of it are equally—the far end of it’s even more fascinating. [laughs]

TP: So it’s like I walk through the plant. There has been no place that GE has put off limits to me. And no person, basically—they’ve exposed everything to me except the basic formula for the materials, which I’m not interested in anyways. So I just roam freely through the research and design center in Pittsfield and carry on. I’ll sit with engineers; I’ll sit with anyone if they’re willing to talk to me. And I’ll show them the drawings. I show them ideas that I have. If they want to meet me the next day, or I’ll ask them, ‘Geez,’ I said, ‘Would you like to—let me do some drawings and I’ll show you some things I’m working on.’ Next day, the guy says, ‘Yeah,’ call me up tomorrow, we’ll go out for lunch and talk.’ And this is the kind of thing. I think it’s quite an adventure for GE and for me both.

PH: They pay for all of this.

TP: Of course. Yeah. Quite handsomely. GE has been very generous with it. But I don’t know. It’s a big commitment for me. It’s a lot of time.

PH: There’s one other thing I would like to talk about with you. You want to go out to lunch early like now, so that we can just go out and talk? I’ll take my other little tape recorder with me, which is here, the hand one.

TP: I think it’s interesting that what we’re trying to talk about in a way is—

PH: I’ve got it.

TP: —is the way we think.

PH: I’ve got it.

TP: —is the way we think, or I think, about the work.

PH: No, but I’ve got it, don’t you think? I think I’ve got it, the thing. Because it’s hard to—you’re up there and I’m down here—to see what’s going on in your mind at this time. You were very good this morning—you used to give me a snow job—

TP: Oh, Paul. But I love you.

PH: —theoretical baloney. Look at this thick package, this goddamn thing. I suppose—what is that for? Is that the package for it? What is this?

TP: That’s the package.

PH: How does that relate to this? No, it isn’t. It’s something else.

TP: This is the package for it.

PH: No. Here’s the package for it.

TP: It might be for stacking them or something.

PH: Maybe. I guess so. Probably slides in there.

TP: You know, it’s interesting what we’ve been talking about. It’s almost like I know what I see, but I’m interested in seeing how I think.

PH: It’s too rich for my blood, that.

TP: Yeah, I mean, there’s sculptures that reveal a kind of a dialogue of thinking. I think that also gets to be part of the look that—the way that the scientist can segregate components of something, a logic.

[. . .]

[break in audio]   [PH and TP may be at lunch at this point]

TP: It’s the difference between—no longer will there be the naivety that’ll come to the material and to the experience like there was during the sixties and early seventies. It’s over now.

PH: Coming out of clay and—

TP: Cause it’s not just glass magazines, but it’s in House and Garden. I mean, it’s over.

PH: It’s the thing to do and now.

TP: It’s the thing to do [sound in background like ice cubes] and it’s like now there’s a consciousness that exists about glass [ice cube sound continues] as art that people aren’t going to happen upon it like had existed before. There are certain values placed on it and so on. It won’t—

PH: It’s very conscious now.

TP: Yeah, it’s one of the changes that exists, and it’s inevitable that it will influence the art. The work itself. There are galleries. No longer do we have to find a place to sell the work. They exist and in fact, they go to the schools to get the work.

PH: Mmm.

PH: And the student doesn’t have to go out to the galleries to find out which ones. The galleries are going in the schools, telling the students where to go with their work when they’re through.

PH: You know the thing that impressed me in Czechoslovakia? Where years and years and years of rigid training was the stuff in the school that we went to there.

TP: Oh, the lampwork?

PH: Well, all the lampwork and the other stuff too was better than almost anything we saw that we had to select from. And the previous year—[TP laughs] What? Right?

TP: [inaudible]

PH: And we got a bad year. We hit a bad year. Because I saw a catalogue for the previous year or two or three years before that or whatever, and the stuff was, all of it, top quality, absolutely [laughs] spectacular, whether it was cutting, sandblasting, or whatever it was, it was absolutely wonderful. Better than the stuff we saw in the corridor. The stuff we saw in the corridor was better than the other stuff we were judging [laughs].

TP: I have a photograph of the graphics in the—I may have some of the glass cases. But I have—

PH: Oh, in this—

TP: But I have some of the graphics where they deal with this war and peace issue. Oh, there. Remember, I left the group and went down the corridor and there was a show of the graphics and I took a slide of this. There’s this bomb coming down, half one color and half red and half black or something. A dove. The use of the dove in their work as a peace symbol—a war symbol.

PH: Yeah. I know.

TP: But I took it. Looks like the graphics like 1940s.

PH: Old Picasso hacker stuff.

TP: Great cut. Hard edge stuff.

PH: Mmm. Yeah. Danger. UXB.

TP: Yeah [laughs] it looks just like that. You’d get a kick out of it.

PH: But the stuff that they did was just fabulous.

TP: It’s fun because a lot of it deals with those little animals, notice the animal forms and that. But all the older stuff, it never existed. Nature took the place of the literal animal figure—seahorses, dogs, ducks, whatever, in a lot of those things. And people, very figurative.

PH: They had them.

TP: Very figurative, but very academic. Very figurative work. It seemed like there was an abrupt change to the abstract. Wasn’t there? I mean outside of the school. What did we see that was figurative? The one guy that did the etching in the sheet glass. The chickens.

PH: Oh. Absolutely. A woman holding a baby.

TP: J.C. Penney’s could handle that.

PH: Oh.

TP: The pheasant. I’m talking about the ones with the tail.

PH: Yes. Oh, that. Incredible.

TP: That guy. He was—

PH: Yeah.

TP: Huh?

PH: Yeah. That’s right. God, yes, I remember that. The one I loved was the sunburst and I don’t know if they ever got that over here. They missed the boat on getting the stuff into Heller’s because they delayed so long in coming over here and getting through customs and all that.

TP: Was he going to handle that exhibition?

PH: He was going to have the show, but then they kept saying, ‘No. It isn’t here. It isn’t here. It isn’t here. It isn’t here.’ And he finally canceled and Helen Wood called me from Chicago one morning and said, ‘When can we set it up,’ and so forth. But it wasn’t possible. They had another show in its place.

TP: That’s too bad.

[. . . ]

TP: We’re caught. We’re finished. The point of it is the geometry that exists. What makes that form whole is the fact that there’s no tool that made it. There’s no one tool that had to make that thing. It wasn’t making polished work or cut work or foot work. It was building something that contained elements of geometry and this quality of the organic, soft material making them together. Other ones are cut, faceted—it’s all these techniques. It’s no one technique that dominates any of it.

PH: Let me ask you. Did you always use this gas thing or did you ever?

TP: No, there’s combinations of—

PH: You blew.

TP: There’s combinations of four, five techniques that—

PH: In the early one, didn’t you?

TP: —that produce the same kind of thing. They expanded differently.

PH: In the early one—

TP: Like this one.

PH: —like the classic one.

TP: This one.

PH: Which? This?

TP: No. Let me see that.

PH: This? Which?

[recording ends]