⟨ Craft ⟩

LIGHT UP BY STAINED GLASS

ISLET STUDIO

Words / MINICHERRYB

那天走過台南的中式天主教座堂,看到了插香的香座,後來她跟我說,她剛從台北搬來台南就住在天主教座堂附近,卻沒有進去看過。傳來訊息的朋友雖然是素未謀面,但可能同是自由業的異鄉人吧,於是我們便決定見個面。她是家鈺,一位鑲嵌玻璃師,正在經營品牌ISLET STUDIO。

台灣新竹擁有豐富的矽砂(石英)、石灰及碳酸鈉,這些都是用來製作玻璃的原材料,因此早於日治時期1925年便開始成為台灣甚至國際的玻璃生產城市。家鈺曾是吹玻璃師,高峰時期,每日教授二十多位遊客吹製獨一無二的玻璃製品。玻璃在高溫下化成液體,迅速冷卻後立即硬化,但玻璃最原本的狀態其實是沙。水會蒸發再化成雨水,石英沙子熔化後冷卻成為玻璃。經過時間的淬煉,人或地方也定必有所脫變。

吹玻璃是「熱加工」,而鑲嵌玻璃則是「冷加工」,吹製的玻璃大約在熔點後降溫30秒便變硬,塑形的同時對抗地心吸力,家鈺發現在創作上她不能那麼乾脆、俐落。於是,她開始研究歐洲教堂的鑲嵌玻璃工藝及觀察台灣的壓花玻璃。

Walking past a Chinese-style Catholic cathedral in Tainan, I had a glimpse inside and saw an incense holder. She later told me that she had been living near this cathedral since she moved to Tainan from Taipei, but she had never gone inside. In fact, I had never met this friend of mine in person. We are both freelancers who are not local to Tainan, so we decided to meet up to get to know each other first. Her name is Jiayu, a mosaic glass artist who runs the brand Islet Studio.

Hsinchu in Taiwan is rich in natural resources like silica sand, limestone, and sodium carbonate, which are all raw materials for glass production. The area has been a glass production hub for Taiwanese and international companies ever since 1925 when Taiwan was still under Japanese rule. Jiayu was once a glassblower. At the peak of her career, she instructed over twenty tourists per day to make their own unique glassware. Glass is primarily made of sand, which turns into a liquid form under extremely high temperature, then it solidifies almost instantly once it is brought back to a lower temperature. Water evaporates into water vapor that eventually falls back to Earth as precipitation, whereas silica sand melts into a liquid and becomes glass when it cools down. I believe, as time goes by, human and places can also undergo a transformation.

Glass blowing is a thermal process, while the stained glass is a cold process. The molten glass for blowing turns stiff again after cooling down for thirty seconds, it is a quick process that the artist needs to shape the glass and resist gravity force simultaneously. Jiayu soon realized that she was not such a determined and agile person. Therefore, she decided to study the stained glass as seen in European-style churches, as well as the Taiwanese patterned glass.

M: MiniCherryb

I:家鈺  Jiayu from Islet Studio

M:這個鑲嵌玻璃的花器是怎樣製成的?

I:收集台灣壓花玻璃是我的嗜好,因此家中有著很多不同大小、花紋的玻璃。我先畫上草圖,精準地計算每片玻璃之間的角度及尺寸後,使用美工刀切割,鏡面玻璃則需要請專業師傅裁切。然後每片貼上銅鉑膠帶,再上錫、燒焊和黏合而成。

M:這比想像中的簡單,那它的魅力在於甚麼呢?

I:是的,比起吹製玻璃,需具備一至二千度的高溫熔爐,鑲嵌玻璃相對來說入門更容易。 製作鑲嵌玻璃可以有更多時間讓我修改、考慮作品的效果,也能更精雕細琢地考量幾何及數學的關係。最重要的是,你不覺得每一片玻璃跟光折射後散發的光影,都很浪漫嗎?當作品配上光線及幾何建築物時,那才是真正的完成。或者我實在喜歡的是折射出來的光,那些流動、軟柔又樸實的東西。

M: 所以創作透明玻璃立體作品,就是把光留著的意思嗎?

I: 我喜歡吳明益寫的《天橋上的魔術師》書,也喜歡他寫的《浮光》,前者寫虛實,而《浮光》中有一句「生於火 浮於光」是在說攝影,但那也可以代表玻璃嗎?沙子在火中化為玻璃,古玻璃、透明玻璃或是乳香玻璃,因為不同的厚度浮於光,就是我著迷的地方。

M: How was this stained glass vase made?

I: I am a collector of Taiwanese patterned glass. I own many pieces of glass in different sizes and patterns. I first began by drawing a sketch. After getting a precise measurement of the angles between each piece of glass and their sizes, I cut the patterned glass with a glass cutter. As for the glass without a pattern, I had to bring it to a professional to do it for me. The next step was to stick copper platinum tape on each piece of glass, apply tin on them, then wield and stick them together.

M: That sounds simpler than I thought. How would you describe the charisma of the processes?

I: That’s right. Glassblowing requires a furnace of around one to two thousand degrees celsius. Comparatively, stained glass involves a much easier process. Making stained glassware allows me to modify my design at my own pace. I can spend time to consider the outcome of my work carefully, as well as to invest more time to research on the relationship between geometry and mathematics. The more important thing to me is the beautiful reflection and shadow from each piece of glass, they exude such a romantic vibe. My work is complete only with light and geometric constructs. Perhaps what I truly adore is the reflection of light. I like things that are fluid, tender, yet substantial.

M: So you would like to retain light in the transparent three-dimensional objects you make?

I: I really like Wu Ming-yi’s books The Magician on the Skywalk and Above Flame. The Magician on the Skywalk is a collection of short stories of magical realism. In Above Flame, there is a line on photography that writes, “Born from fire, floats on the light”. Don’t you think this is also an apt description for glass? Sand becomes glass in a burning flame. Be it the vintage glass, the transparent glass, and the tinted glass, they all float on light because of the difference in their thickness. I found this absolutely fascinating.

Instagram: islet_studio

小島・ISLET
「沒有人是一座孤島,因為大海是相連的」
使用老屋改建拆卸下來的壓花玻璃作為主要媒材,將代表過往台灣樸實生活風景的老玻璃與海洋、山脈、礦石、植物等自然元素透過鑲嵌技法拆解再重組。呼吸島嶼溫柔的養分,並賦予老物新生命,期望與欣賞小島創作的顧客產生連結,承載歷史並延續新的故事。

“No one is an isolated island, each island is connected to the vast ocean.” 

The patterned glass taken from a demolished old building is a representation of the humble lifestyle of Taiwan in the old days. The vintage glass was detached from and reconstructed with the ocean, the mountain, the ore, the plants, and other natural resources through the stain techniques. Breathe in the tenderness and copiousness of the island, give a second life to the old and dying things; Islet Studio is a bridge that connects the customers with the history, hoping the reconnection can be a beginning for a brand new story.