Creating bottles with sculptures inside – or in other words, the synthesis of free form glass-making and one functional level – has fascinated me since my schooldays at the vocational college for glass blowing. This fascination does not stem from an ambition to create a functional object, but rather from the technical challenge of shaping a product with multiple layers so that the viewer perceives the object as a whole, complete unit.
My bottles and the sculptures inside are usually commissioned and therefore the customers determines the theme. To design the sculpture, I start with a rough sketch. Then I freely shape the sculpture with solid glass rods using a hand burner. Once the glass object has the desired proportion, it is kiln annealed for a few hours.
The shape of the finished sculpture inside the bottle determines the form of the bottle. The bottle is blown in a separate process, usually at the lathe. After the glass sculpture has cooled down, I slide it into the bottle through the open bottom and seal it from the outside with various hand burners. This closing of the bottle base at 2,000°C is the final act in the manufacturing process of a bottle with a sculpture inside.
The difficulty of this melting technique lies primarily in mastering the great tensions of the glass, especially during the sealing process. Achieving a balance between the glass sculpture, the bottle size and the shape of the bottle is obviously another challenge. At school I started with my first experiments of melting small bottles of about 10 cm. Year after year I was able to increase the object size and now I can produce bottles of more than 1 m (3.2 feet) in length and with detailed sculptures inside.
The bottles with sculptures inside have, rather unintentionally, become a hallmark of my glass work. The bottle archive shows pieces of work that I have photographed and which are already over 15 years old (so please excuse the poor picture quality). Some large-sized "super-size bottles" are presented in a more professional quality in a separate block.