Marbles-and-More Features


George Pavliscak Interview

Photos courtesy of Pavliscak Studios



Q. George, thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule, how's the house remodeling job coming along?

A. Glad to be here and thanks for asking me.  Now my House project started small but a bit before we started to tear off the roof we made our plans alot more complicated.  My Wife and I worked like fiends on it for about 2 months.  Now we have backed off a little now that the outside is mostly complete on the new section.  One reason is burnout on the project, but it also over-ran the money we had set aside for the project, so we need to slow down a little and let us catch up to ourselves.  Overall though its coming out better than I imagined, but is also about ten times the work I was expecting, merging new stuff to a 150 year old house has its own set of challenges.


Q. I would imagine this is a pretty busy time of the year for you, have you got any special projects going on for the holidays, maybe with a holiday theme?

A. Usually by the times the holidays roll around I am sort of winding down for the year.  Once the new year hits I get to work on new projects and get ready for my summer shows.  In the spring and summer I am preparing for my fall shows, and completing orders.  Toward the end of summer into the fall, I usually have alot of holiday orders to fill which I try to finish up around Thanksgiving. 

From Thanksgiving to Christmas Family and Friends come first. From Thanksgiving on, I make gifts for family and friends, and usually do a short series of holiday marbles and ornaments.  I do a series of 20 YULE Marbles That I give to family and friends.  I Swiped that idea from another Marble Maker, hope he doesn¹t mind.

Stained Glass                                                 Kaleidascopes                                      Tiffany Lamps


Q. You craft a wide array of beautiful items, is one more enjoyable and/or satisfying to make than the others? Is one more challenging?

A. They all have their own satisfaction unique to them, with windows and lamps its not only  attention to detail, but patience and sticking it out for the long haul to achieve the completed piece.  The same goes for working on a torch, a marble may only take an hour as compared to a hundred times that on a window or a lamp, but the satisfaction of doing your best work is there.  Even if the next year you look back on what you have previously done and can¹t help but shudder to yourself.  

I guess keeping things challenging, on whatever you do helps you keep refining and improving.

Your marbles are made with a torch, what kind of a torch are we talking about here? Is it similar to a torch used by folks making glass figurines and the like?

A. I use a Nortel Mid Range currently, but have used a Nortel Minor in the past as well as some smaller torches.  Every torch has its good points and its limitations, you adapt to it, if the limitations start to bother me enough to pony up for an upgrade I do it.  It seems to occur every year or two.  My knowledge of scuptural work is very limited so I  do not know if if people do that kind of work on my particular brand of torch, but I don¹t think so.


Q. Since I obviously have never worked with glass, maybe we can use a handmade "sulphide" as a reference. Do you start with a large rod of clear glass, and then insert your design into it?

A. I get a gather of glass that will be one half of the marble, it can be from a large or small rod, then when the glass is hot I pick up the inclusion and keep it warm in the high part of the flame until I have the gather for the other side of the marble.  Then I get both halves hot, the new gather nearly dripping and press them together in a way which hopefully will not introduce too many bubbles, The clean up and round it out.

How are "moretti rods" used to craft a marble?

A. Glass rods Are my basic component in making my lampwork, but I do not always use them in the raw form, many times I will mix them with other rods for my own colors, or pull down the rods in to much smaller diameters called stringers to de detailed work.

The rods can be used to make the mass of the marble, case the marble, add color to the marble in specific areas or ways, The possibilities are really endless, and if I ever figure it all out my head would probably explode.


Q. Let's take your flowers for example, do you have some sort of a rod with a flower petal design or is each petal individually put together?

A. Each petal is made individually, I basically start from one side, the stamen, and work my way to the other, the sepal.  Once the flower is done being made its more of a lumpy cylinder than a marble, the I carefully round it out as to not distort what I have made inside.  That design went through many stages to where it is today, and I like to think it will lead me somewhere else in the future.  I will keep on pushing the technique as far as I think it will go.

Many of the details in your work are so tiny, what are there special tools required? I assume you don't drink coffee!

A. I Love coffee, but I usually stick to decaf before I am working.  I steady my hands on my knees or my workbench to steady myself when applying deatail sometimes.  But there are some days when I just never get it to go right.  I just work on something else then.


Q. Your "Monster Eye" style is very unusual, where did the inspiration come from?

A. I had seen some other marble makers doing eyes, and I think its very natural to want to recreate the eye in any medium.  My particular interest was trying to make something interesting behind the iris and pupil, something that you could gaze into as well as at.

Let's not give away any trade secrets, but how do you attain the three dimensional quality of the eye?

A. The Basic constuction is making a huge clear lens over some metal foil, silver or gold, then I cover up eveything that isn¹t an eye and then decorate the surface.  Mike Edmundson gave me a tip a few years ago on how to improve the iris, I ended up doing it a different way in the end, but he put me on the right track for that part.  I keep pushing to make my eyes interesting from every angle, and from the insode to the outside.  I still have alot of different approaches I would like to investigate on this style as I refine my techniques.  


Q. When you make marbles with a "layered" effect, do you allow the marble to cool before putting another layer on?

A. The short answer is Œyes¹, But there are certainly degrees of heat that you work with, if a marbles gets to cool while you are working it, it will crack, and then its time to throw it in the water bucket.  I have many internal theories on the heat with which I work glass, and it would be hard to verbalize them.  Sometimes its more of a feeling than something you think to yourself.

I like to break it down into 3 forms of heat I work with.  First is when the glass is hot enough to manipulate but it will not move of its own accord.  Next you have a temperature where the glass is beginning to flow on its own, but is still stiff.  Last the point at which the glass is almost completely molten and will fall off your rod or punty if you don¹t rotate it fast enough.

The scale of what you are working on also has something to do with the amount of heat you put into what you are working on, small things take less and vice versa. Controlling the heat in your piece is one of the major ways to control the more complex designs in the marbles I make.  

What is "annealing" and how is it accomplished with your marbles? Is it done only once when the marble is completed?

A.  Annealing is the process where you remove the internal stress in the glass by holding at a temperature just below the point where the glass will become liquid.  As you join different batches and pieces of glass together under high heat you are asking the atomic/molecular bonds to assume some uncomfortable positions. Holding them at a point where they can move around to more comfortable positions without losing the shape of the marble for a few hours will prevent them from breaking in the future.

The stress from an unannealed marble can cause it to crack or even shatter hours or months after it has been completed. Anyway, I have a small annealer which I made from an old fusing oven that I anneal my marbles in. The bigger the marble, the longer you anneal them, and then they must be cooled slowly from that point.  Most of mine are annealed and cooled within a day.


Q. Many of your marbles incorporate "dichroic" and "lutz", is there a particular reason why?

A. I like Dichroic, Lutz AND Metal foils,  I love the ones that sparkle.  I think its especially amazing to take some materials that don¹t look like much on their own and change them in the fire to something else.

There also is a nature theme in many of your pieces, are you an outdoorsman or just inspired by the great outdoors?

A. I love the outdoors, spending time laying in the grass looking at bugs, walking in the forest looking for game, or out on the lake trying to sneak up on fish.  I would spend more time screwing around in the woods if I had it.


Q. With names like "Dugg", "Anchovi", "Nightsky", and "Jovian", do you make a marble with a name in mind, or does the name naturally follow after the marble is made? Is it difficult to repeat the style?

A. Its different for different style.  Some came out of trying to refine a technique I was working on, others I had and Idea and had to find the techniques to get there.  The Dugg was named for a friend who happened to be the first to show any positive opinion of the idea.  The others you mentioned I named for what they looked like.  Enamels are named for what they are made from. And there are some others that I had to hunt for a name because I did not want to step on names taken by other marble makers.

You started your career with stained glass, is it a completely different mindsight to make something in 2 dimensions verses a marble in 3D? Does one style influence the other in any way?

A. They really are very different, as far as making stained glass and doing lampworking the construction is entirely different.  The color sense is different, the dimension is different.  I suppose its just that they are both having to do with glass, which seems to fascinate me in every aspect


Q. Have you ever considered making a stained glass window incorporating marbles? You could have flat glass that looked like a marble, a half of a marble, or the whole marble, I bet it would go over well......

A. Yes I have been making windows and lamps with marbles for many years, more so in the past few since I have started doing the marble shows.  More commonly I use melted marbles, so they are flat on one side, or things that I have made on the torch and then squished flat to be used in the stained glass.


Q. The Tiffany style lamps you make are absolutely gorgeous, again, do you visualize the design before hand or are you pleasantly surprised? How long does it take to make one?

A.  I have to have a pretty good idea of what I wantt he finished piece to look like before I begin.  I might have a just few sketches and some pretty firm ideas, or I might have detailed drawings and some colored pencil renderings.  It depends on how long I have been contemplating the project, and if it something I do because I thought of it, or if its a commissioned piece.  I have hundreds of sketches of lamps and windows I would like to do and will probably never get to.

It begins with a form to build the lamp on. there are ones you can buy, but the ones I prefer to work on I make myself.  I will begin by turning my desired form on a lathe out of wood, then I can use it like that or make a fiberglass mold from the wood form.  That ends up being easier to reuse in the long run.
From there I do more drawings and design work, which leads to making the glass patterns.  From the patterns I choose my glass and lay it out on a light table to check for grain alignment, color and opacity.  After that its the task of cutting the glass and assembling the lamp, each piece is a multistep process and can take quite some time. After soldering the lamp I put it through several plating baths to give the metal the right patina, and match and tune it to a base.

PeeWees at 17/32" in diameter!

Q. Well, you have yourself a shop in Wisconsin, an Internet Auction, you demonstrate at many shows, plus you make all these great looking glass works....What do you do to relax and where do you find the time?

A.     Where do does anyone find the time?  I wish there was more time in the day. I like to play music, I get together with some friends once a week in my studio.  We try to play out somewhere once a year to stay sharp and have something to work for.  Woodworking has always been a big interest to me, I make boxes mostly, but some furniture. whenever any of my neighbors are building something, I strap on the tool belt and head over there.

I love to fish, I mostly fish panfish to eat, and bass for fun, now that my kids are getting old enough to enjoy it I have been doing it more when the weather permits. I like target shooting, and occasionally a little squirrel hunting. I play soccer in the summer and ski in the winter.

And I don¹t know if its relaxing but I spend probably a little more time than I should messing around with local politics and community organization stuff.


Q. George, any suggestions for the up and coming glass worker? What can we expect in the future from Pavliscak Studios?

A.  For the up and coming glass worker, I first of all recommend practice, practice, practice.  Do your techniques over and over, don¹t be afraid to try new things.  Get those basic skills down, and don¹t worry about what you are going to sell, think about what you are going to make.  For every 100 people out there that churn out products to sell, are not thinking about doing their best work and improving their craft. I recommend Observing others work, or working with someone who knows alot, you can learn alot by seeing how others do things.

The second part of your question - I have spent the past 5 years staying home with my 2 sons, Nickolai, and Jackson
.  I Play with my boys during the day, and hopefully teach them a thing or two, and when my wife gets home in the afternoon, I go to work in the evening.  My time at work has been very limted as a result.  This has been a very fun time raising my boys, but I am getting ready to get back at it full time this summer.  I hope to begin like an explosion.

I will be upgrading my lampworking and glass blowing equiptment.  I have several large lamp project which I have in their early stages. I am working on a project that will span several miles along a Wisconsin highway.  I have a collaboration planned with an iron caster blowing glass inside freshly cast metal forms. I plan some workshops and classes for next year and I hope to increase my roster of art fairs and open studios.  Generally just be working alot more, and hopefully the best is yet to come.
Thanks very much for the opportunity to let people know about myself and my work.


Views from inside George's Kaleidascopes!

We would like to thank George for a super interview. His patience through the numerous delays in getting these questions sent off to him is greatly appreciated. We're fortunate to of caught him before he has surgery on his hands, I'm sure all the typing didn't help matters any. Thank you George, you're work is really something special!
Remember to visit Pavliscak Studios on the world wide web. George also sells his wares under the username "bucketnoise" on eBay. 
Contact Information
Pavliscak Studios
Blue Mounds, WI 53507



Home | How it Works | Gallery | Consignments | Features | eBay | Club News | Hall of Fame | Contact Us

Copyright ©2002, All rights reserved.
Site design by Gateway Business Solutions.