George Pavliscak Interview
Photos courtesy of Pavliscak Studios
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.
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.
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
I guess keeping things challenging, on whatever you do helps you keep
refining and improving.
Q. 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
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.
Q. 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.
Q. 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.
"Monster Eye" style is very unusual, where did the inspiration
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.
Q. 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.
Q. 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
Q. 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.
Q. 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
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
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
Blue Mounds, WI 53507
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