About Lampworking

Ken in the studio

Lampworking is a technique of melting glass rods and tubes in a torch flame. The torch is the lamp in Lampworking. My torch is called a bench burner and runs from a propane/oxygen mixture. The glass is scientific glass called Borosilicate, a type of pyrex. I manipulate the molten glass rods with hand tools. Some of these tools are stainless Steel tweezers, mashers, optic molds, pokers and pliers. I use graphite half round molds to assist in marble making. I use a flat graphite plate or marver to roll the hot glass on. I start with clear glass rods and melt colored glass onto the clear. Sometimes I use crushed glass also called frit or silver and gold foil to color the glass. The softening point of the glass rods is around 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

After I’m finished the glass goes into an annealing kiln where the glass is held at 1050 degrees for hours depending on the thickness then is slowly reduced to room temperature overnight. This evens out the stress frozen in the glass and insures structural integrity and strength in the glass.

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Full Artist Statement

My fascination with glass started with a small glass knob on the steering wheel of a 1954 Chevy. It had a clear face with a green four leaf clover floating inside. I loved just looking at it. Later in life my aunt Ada, a classical artist fed my artistic side with a book on soap carving, hence came my love of sculpture. A family friend made jewelry from stones he found and got me interested early. After a few years of art school, resulting in an certificate in fine arts, I set out to hone my skills as a glass artist.

In the winter of 2001 I heard of a beginners lampworking class at the Spokane Art School. Having never worked with scientific (Pyrex) glass and a torch before, I soon realized this was a medium I could work with in my home studio without the need of complex furnaces and specialized equipment. I took beginning instruction from William Hagy at Spokane Art School. I continued instruction under Christopher Chorvat at his studio.

Although this type of glass has disadvantages of scale and expense,it also has the advantage of the extreme optical clarity of the glass and the momentum of the studio glass movement, along with the creative alchemist's that are creating the vast and ever changing color palates in glass that we lampworkers use. I use clear glass rod of varying diameters and add color by melting color rods using a specialized torch with a flame of a propane and oxygen mix then manipulate the glass with carbon paddles, tweezers, jacks, shears and gravity. The borosilicate (pyrex) has a working temperature of 2,280 degrees.

My goal as an artist is to engage the viewer and evoke an emotional response. I love the process of creating art objects from the primal ingredents of silica, boron, copper, gold, silver, and rare earth minerals. Through the use of propane and oxygen, I hope to create objects as beautiful and durable as our earth from which the compositon of the glass began.
~Ken Frybarger

About Ken

I want people to know that I am passionate about art in all of it's forms, visual, performance, conceptual, and music. I appreciate most of all our abilities as humans to create objects, images and sounds that can only come from the depths of our minds. That makes no sense in the natural world, A free flowing torrent of imagination. I do my best work when I have no preconceived notions when beginning a project and am flying by the seat of my pants. After all the formal training is over and my techniques have been honed and all my discussions have ebbed, I arrive at that point where there is no more fear of failure and my mind is peaceful. This allows me to become a conduit for creativity to flow from mind to hand. That is the place I am most comfortable. It is like mastering a musical instrument. Once you have learned to read notes and have some mastery of your instrument is when you are free to explore and express.

Like life, it is the sum of each person's experience that allows everyone's difference to be uniquely exhibited. And for me, that is exactly what makes art so important. It is so uniquely human with a language which is at the same time personal yet universal, both current and historical. I feel that what I make today will become artifacts. These glass artifacts are an account of my existence in time frozen within the matrix of this material. My creations will far outlast me.

Nature, science and the human condition both past, present and future is where I find inspiration. The ocean and all the mysteries found there intrigue me as well as our universe. I view all media of our underground, underwater, and outer space experience. There is no limit to the bizarre images and theories concerning the Earth and beyond. Hubble telescope photo's that I can't wrap my mind around are a constant source of amazement.

My wife Carole has always been my biggest support. Carole always encourages me to spend all the time I need working with glass and helps me in countless ways. Before we married she asked me what my hopes and aspirations were. I told her that I wanted to have a good background in art followed by becoming a glass blower. I was able to accomplish both through education and hard work.

It is my intent to create a sense of wonderment in whoever views my work. I intend to educate people about lampworking and how it differs from other types and ways of working with glass. I would like to make the best glasswork that I’m capable of and that it will be cherished and handed down as heirlooms to future generations.