“The technical combination of blown and sand carved glass demonstrates a firm control of the material. Creating the surface of Tlingit Basket forms is a time intensive process. Using masking material cut to the width of straw or grass, each layer is sandblasted and then remasked until the carved effect is achieved. In all of his sculptures the patterns and designs tell stories not for our minds to consider, but also for our hands as the work is so tactile.” Jim Schantz, Carving the Past into the Future, 2011
The beauty of the Tlingit Baskets by Preston Singletary is only equal to the amazement for the intricacy of the process to achieve them, therefore, we are posting a brief description for a better appreciation!
Objects in this series are titled “Tlingit Basket” and the correct medium is “blown and sand-carved glass.” They are created in either the smaller “Berry” size or the larger “Shelf” size.
The baskets that Preston Singletary creates are contemporary glass versions of traditional Tlingit baskets, which were woven from spruce tree roots. Tlingit designs found on historical baskets inspire the designs on these glass baskets. Singletary began making this series around 2004.
Tlingit Basket Process
The process for making the glass baskets is complex – it involves first blowing the glass form with two layers of glass (for example: a cream color over red) and wrapping a bead of hot glass around the lip.
When the basket has cooled, a stencil is applied to the surface, to create the larger basket designs, and then strips of custom-made tape are applied over the stencil, first vertically, then horizontally in a spiral in order to create the basket weave design.
The whole surface is deeply sandblasted (called sand-carving) once, then the spiral of tape is removed, then it is sandblasted a second time, and finally the vertical lines of tape are removed. Everything that is covered with the stencil is not exposed to the sandblasting process. After the last sand blasting, the entire stencil is removed to reveal the textured basket design. Finally, it is given a light sandblasting (called frosting) and coated with a special finish called Liquid Luster, to protect the now porous glass and give it its characteristic low sheen.
We hope you can visit us in Stockbridge to see more of Preston Singletary baskets as well as his many other creations.