Robert began his artistic career in ceramics, having completed a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. He then accepted a position as Head of Ceramics at Sheridan College School of Design in Ontario, becoming the youngest department head at the College.
Robert enjoyed making pottery vessels with tiny openings. These were either thrown on the potter’s wheel or created using a thin slab and rolled around a pencil. Once the vessels had been glazed and fired Robert would add dried flowers to complement the vases. If the ceramic vase was small he would fill it with a few brightly coloured dried strawflowers. For tall vessels he would use dried seed pods from the money plant, Lunaria, to complement the height and shape of the vase.
Robert's transition from ceramics to glassblowingShortly after visiting Pennland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Robert became enthralled with the art of glassblowing. He launched the college-level hot glass program at Sheridan in 1969. Sheridan continues to offer an Honours Baccalaureate Degree in Craft and Design (Glass). Years later Robert returned to Lunaria, this time using it as the basis for a new art glass collection.
Lunaria seedpods and Robert Held's glass interpretationLunaria annua is the botanic name of the plant which yields the silicles, or ripe pods, that resemble coins. It is commonly referred to as honesty plant, money plant, or silver dollars. The plant is an annual or biennial, producing heart-shaped leaves followed by flowers and seed pods.
The Lunaria seed pods are the size of a silver dollar and have a slightly oval shape with a dark outline and several short dark lines running from the edge of the pod to the center. The dried pods are prized for their silvery translucent appearance and are often used in floral arrangements.
Drawing again on Lunaria for inspiration, Robert Held and his team of master glassblowers have recently created a new collection of glass vases. The challenge was to produce murrine, very small pieces of glass containing the design, that would capture the elegant simplicity and translucency of the seedpod. This image shows the actual pod and its interpretation in glass. For details of how we make glass cane and murrine in the studio please see our Nov. 15, 2022 blog.
Robert has designed three different murrine for the Lunaria collection. The seedpod colours are translucent white, a milky yellow/gold tone, and an opaque white. The black outline makes the colour pop and enhances the oval shape of the pod. The stem is gold encased in black and “breaks” or expands when incorporated into the molten glass.
This photo shows a large cylindrical bowl with the yellow/gold murrine and gold/black stem. At 14 inches in diameter it is both a work of art and a functional piece of blown glass.
The new Lunaria blown glass vases and bowls are now available for purchase in our gallery in Parksville, BC. Each piece is unique and incorporates one of the three different colours of murrine created in the studio. This square vase features a light blue background while others are made using clear, gold or opaque white glass.
Come in and browse the Lunaria collection or contact the gallery for more information.