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Michèle Oberdieck and the Future of Craft

2022 is the UN’s International Year of Glass. And this week Design-Nation is staging the second edition of our celebrated event, The Future of Craft Exhibition, at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, as part of the city-wide festival London Craft Week. Which seems like the perfect opportunity to talk to our LCW glass artists.

In the first of two interviews, we asked Michèle Oberdieck what work she is showing at The Future of Craft.

Michèle: I’ll be showing my most recent series of blown glass vessels inspired by the colours in the landscape of Ostfriesland, bordering with the Netherlands, full of canals, grasslands and dunes. The wide horizon brings a clarity to the delicate colourings of soft greys, delft blues and celadon evident in the flat landscape. Thin mists, marshland fogs, and sea haze powder the skylines blurring distinctions from land to water to air.

D-N: Tell us a little about the ideas and processes involved.

M.O: My blown glasswork is hand formed while still molten. The shapes are inspired by the organic natural world. I work against symmetry creating twists and turns in each piece exploring balance, and capturing fluidity and movement. Colour has always been a major force for me. With these particular vessels, I’ve used colour fade techniques to create this effect.

With some pieces I’ve introduced pattern by using a technique called Graal. I cut through layers of colour using diamond engraving wheels on a lathe in the form of an egg. The egg is then heated up overnight and reblown into a much larger shape where the pattern can become interestingly distorted

D-N: It’s the International Year of Glass – what makes this amazing material special to you? Why do you choose to work with it?

M.O: Many qualities drew me to hot glass: the spontaneity and fluidity of the material, the way colours move with extreme heat and how each colour reacts to one another, as well as how glass captures light and transforms itself through it.  Light interacting with colour can completely change its tone. This is especially relevant with glass.

D-N: Our event is called The Future of Craft – what are your plans for the future? Do you have ambitions around working with glass and where you’d like to go, physically or metaphorically?

M.O: I will of course continue to work with blown glass as I’m passionate about this material. I plan to explore other pattern making techniques and colour technologies in glass. As traditional retail has come under pressure, notably around the supply chain issues, it feels there is less choice, and it is more difficult to find the unique and the interesting. This is where I feel craft is experiencing a surge of interest.

Individual makers, bespoke pieces, small runs – it means that the craft market place is a vibrant thriving culture growing in between the cracks of traditional retail.

Images courtesy the artist

Portrait of Michèle Oberdieck in her studio by Juliet Sheath.

Interview by Laura Jacometti & Liz Cooper

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Liz Cooper


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