Saturday, September 7, 2013

Buoy and Boat

After three months of long hours and tedious details, artist Michael Hengler's "Buoy & Boat" project came to fruition.  The glassblown buoy & boat sets varied in size from 1.5 feet to 8 feet in length.  Each glass object starts off the same: as liquid molten glass pulled onto a metal pipe from a 2400 Fahrenheit furnace.Once there is enough of glass on the pipe, the glassblower then blows air through the pipe to create a bubble inside of the glass.  As the bubble grows, the Gaffer (glass artist) shapes  the object to his or her desired form.

In the above photo, Michael is shaping the piece on a metal table called a marver. The picture on the right shows him swinging the hot glass back and forth to create length. This cylindrical object is then placed in an oven to cool slowly and when it is cold it will be sliced in half with a diamond saw. Once cut, the two objects are placed back in an oven (the "garage") and bought to a working temperature of around 2200 Fahrenheit.  At this point, Michael can add the final details and create the two boat forms he is envisioning.
The 33 sets of glass buoys and boats were etched with Michael's website address and released into the current at Hereford Inlet in Wildwood, NJ on July 15th, 2013. With a team of assistants, Michael installed the varying sizes of buoy sets along the coast line in hopes that the ocean current would take them out to sea and their new owners would email him as to their whereabouts.  Things seemed to be going really well except...
...the tide wasn't cooperating. The waves were simply not strong enough to pull the "Buoy & Boat" sets into the Atlantic and off to their voyage. There was a deep channel with a rip current just 30 feet off of the shore, but the buoy sets weren't coming close to it. So, what would any clever artist do?
Even the lifeguards were eager to join in. The incredibly kind lifeguard on the surfboard above offered to hand deliver the larger buoy sets one by one! The day of the "Buoy & Boat" installation was filled with a few challenges, but the overwhelming feeling we received from the people on the beach and from all of the helping hands was complete gratitude and joy.

For more information or to check out Michael Hengler's artwork, check out his website at  The artist currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and teaching glassblowing at the University of Hawaii