Art of Flame
taps Madisons Bickis
to plan glass art focus
captures floral beauty in glass
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(September 2012) Seth Bickis first became fascinated
with glass working when he had the opportunity to watch an artist bring
beauty out of fire.
I saw a person at a festival working with glass rods and flame,
he recalls. Watching a painter paint, you don't feel as much a part
of the process, he explains, but when viewers see a glass worker
in action they experience the sound, the heat... you feel you've
has a part in seeing this piece come to life. The image of the artist
and the flame stayed with him and he began to pay more attention to the
glass work around him from figurines at stores to his grandfather's collection
of glass bottles.
by Lela Bradshaw
Seth Bickis creates
his glass artwork at his home studio
and sells it in stores around town.
I think glasswork in general has a mysterious quality,
Bickis reflects. He explains that when people see the sweeping curves
in glass candle holder or the delicate petals in a floral pendant it is
only natural to wonder where did it come from?
During the Sept. 29-30 Madison Chautaqua Festival of Art, Bickis will
be helping to answer that question as he demonstrates lamp working at
his booth on Vine Street near the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center. This
will be the artist's first time setting up at Chautauqua and this year's
theme of honoring the 50th anniversary of American Studio Glass makes
for a particularly fitting debut.
Bickis served alongside other members of the Indiana Glass Arts Alliance
to help advise the Chautauqua committee and grant writers to develop programming
for the celebration.
We're having a focus on glass and are able to have a showcase of
glass artists in the area, he explains.
The event will bring glass artists, teachers, and students together with
connoisseurs, collectors, and casual fans and will certainly prove a learning
opportunity for all involved.
Bickis, 29, of Madison has been working with glass for more than five
years. He began by making beads but was soon looking for an additional
challenge. He explains that now that I focus on representing the
natural in my work and find myself focused on floral designs. It's funny.
When I started I thought I could never sit and make flowers all day.
However, he became fascinated by the level of artistic difficulty required
to capture the details and petals.
Bickis' particular branch of glass work is lampwork. Lampwork means
that you are using a torch, a localized heat source, to melt glass rods,
The technique, also know as flameworking, allows more control, more
time to work in comparison to glassblowing he says. Bickis says
he also appreciates the level of detail this style of work allows him
to achieve in his pieces. He described his style saying, I work
mainly in borosilicate glass which has amazing properties in clarity,
strength, and function. I have been working with a technique described
as a compression where it allows me to compose beautiful florals with
depth, clarity, and precision.
Bickis says that most people are familiar with flameworking from
carnival glass people making little animals but
that artists have been pushing the boundaries of what is possible and
are now producing large bodies of work with the technique.
When considering the artistic possibilities of glass, he is continually
amazed at the control you are able to have over it with practice
and skilled hands.
Bickis produces pendants, marbles and candle holders. He has recently
been working on Christmas ornaments for upcoming winter art shows. When
discussing what makes glass such an appealing medium, he says, It's
a weird thing to say, but its plasticity. It can look like many things.
He believes that many people think of glass as brittle. We don't
think of glass a a liquid.
He estimates that most of his pieces take between half an hour and and
hour of work, noting that, It's an hour of focus while trying not
to get burned by a 3,000-degree flame just inches from my body.
Bickis recently reworked his studio in order to have ventilation for two
artists to work at a time and is considering opening his doors to students.
As he looks to the future, he says, I have no doubt that I will
always find new barriers to break.
Seth Bickis' work can be found at many Madison,
Ind., shops, including Madison Buy Design, Christy's Candles, The Floating
Cow, and Galeta's Art Supply Store. He may be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.