19.1.2017

Vierailulla Glasremis-lasistudiolla Liettuassa Visiting Glasremis studio in Lithuania

Vierailin Glasremis-lasistudiossa Penevezysissä, Liettuan koillisosassa, tutustuakseni liettualaiseen studiolasikulttuuriin.

Glasremis studio pähkinänkuoressa:

- Glasremisin perusti Remigijus Kriukas vuonna 2000.
- Yrityksessä työskentelee 20 henkilöä.
- Studiossa on 3 lasiuunia, 2 trummelia, 3 puhalluspenkkiä, 2 jäähdytysuunia, parkkiuuni ja kylmätyöstölaitteet.

- Glasremis järjestää  kansainvälisen Glass Jazz -symposiumin joka toinen vuosi, viimeksi vuona 2016.

I am starting my trip to Glasremis studio in the beginning of January from Vilnius capital city of Lithuania. It takes around 2 hours to reach my destination Panevezys, the small town in North-West Lithuania. Panevezys became important industrial center during the soviet times. One of the most important factories “Ekranas“ was producing colorful cinescopes for television screens and crystal glassware, unfortunately, because of the fast new technologies development the factory was closed at 2006 and around 4000 workers lost their jobs. The same happened with sugar, alcohol, textile, meat and glass factories, which were completely closed.
In 1962 was started to build one of the biggest factory in North-East of Lithuania for industrial glass production, specifically insulating glass units, glass mosaic tiles, laminated front glasses for cars, float triplex and bullet-proof glasses. In 1993 factory built a small glass furnace for table ware production, which later on expanded to the field of manufacturing an art glass production. Later on in 1998 the factory was acquired by Polish glass plant, which started a reconstruction in a factory and gave up the production of art glass and ceramics. These circumstances has created the need for a new individual glass studio emergence.

Glasremis studio was founded in 2000 by well known Lithuanian glass artist Remigijus Kriukas. The artist realized that together with reconstruction of Panevezys glass factory the traditions and skills gained in field of art glass making going to be lost. The workers simply would not have other place to work. So the rise of Glass remis studio provided the new working places for former factory workers in the fields of hot glass shaping and cold working and ensured to preserve the traditions and skills of previous art glass manufacturing.
At the moment in Glasremis studio the 21 skillful people crew is working in hotshop and cold working area, both located in the industrial part of the Panevezys town. Besides working area studio has its own administration, art gallery and production-sales gallery. Furthermore Glasremis is the organizer of international glass symposium “Glass Jazz“, which is held in Panevezys every second summer.

The first impression after entering Glasremis studio is the interior mostly done by architect and a friend Kestutis Indriunas, full of details such as welded metal railings and stylish lightning system in the production and sales gallery. Studio can be proud of cooperation with large number of countries around the World including Europe, Asia and United States of America, however the atmosphere of the studio is very cozy and has a twist of indie look. While following administrator to the second floor I am trying to imagine how it would have looked like if it still would be just a part of the ordinary factory, perhaps quite differently.










In the second floor I enter the gallery full of massive glass objects made by various techniques. The exposition is rich by different colors, shapes and structures glass - casted and cold worked glass pieces, mostly designed by Indrė Stulgaitė-Kriukienė and Remigijus Kriukas and produced by Glasremis studio team. Next to art gallery there is another gallery – show room designed and suitable for commercial side of production, which shares a window with hot glass workshop in the first floor. So, while trying to choose the product you are welcomed to have a look on how actually the pieces are produced. I can feel the smell of the burning wood coming from the workshop, the long room is full of smoke and glass is illuminated by many lamps hanging from the ceiling. The gallery wall made of shelves full of glass shines so it is easy to loose yourself for a while just observing myriads of colorful reflections. Glass has his own magic, which simply takes you in. After a short moment I let myself be enchanted by glass and once again I continue my tour to the first floor.



 







In the small room full of grinding machines gray from carborundum and glass dust lie large pieces of glass in different stages of coldworking process. While I look at Remigijus Kriukas and Indrė Stulgaitė-Kriukienė art works I can imagine how busy the cold workshop is. The large pieces of glass casted or hot shaped nee a lot of grinding till they reach the final phase.
Even in this afternoon when workshop is almost empty the walls full of drawings, stickers and posters talk about people who are working there. Somehow it is, that small details easily tell a very precise characteristic of people working or living there. The larger the space is, the more dispersed the features are. Even without physical meeting of the workers there I meet them through fast sketches and photographs on the walls. It feels like being in the abode of people who know each other for a long time.







Finally I’m passing to the hot workshop which is next door to the cold workshop. Even the working hours are going to the end the workshop is busy. One of the oldest worker in the team admits that workers are welcomed to use the workshop for their own projects by the free time and looks pretty happy and exciting to continue the work even the day is close to finish. They receive quite moderate salaries, but workers are motivated to express themselves, to realize own projects and not just to reproduce glassware day after day.  “I have been working here with hot glass around 36 years“, he says and opens the door of one of the three working furnaces standing next to each other in the center of the room. The furnaces are built by owners and team workers by themselves after American engineer plans modifying them and adding extra details. The glass batch arrives from Hollands.
In the workshop there are three benches and two glory holes, a kiln and two big annealers to cool down the glass objects. The atmosphere in the workshop is very free and relaxed even the tasks are often difficult and requires attention, the team has the long years of experience by working together so it looks if everything goes very smoothly, if it would not require any effort.












The working hours are over and I am invited to try the workshop and to make something what I like. I borrow couple tools I need and make a small rose. The same old man tells me that I should be very fast, because the glass is quite cold here, but it feels a bit hotter than in Nuutajärvi workshop in Finland. Or maybe it is just my imagination.


After placing the rose into annealer next to beautifully made paper weights I thank and tell good bye for Glasremis studio. I leave thinking about constant methamorphosis of this World and its reflections in one of the most flexible materials - glass.