Monday, 16 April 2012

Ego, Glass and the Economic Downturn

Transparent Banded Vortex Vase by Michael Trimpol of Little River Hotglass, all photos courtesy of Michael

From April 7 to the 14th, I had the good fortune to visit my native city of Montreal – something I had not done for ten years.  Even with the student protests, rolling strikes at Air Canada and general mayhem it was thoroughly enjoyable.  Of course, I went to museums, galleries and bookstores but I was most impressed with the store windows.  I had forgotten what a sense of style pervades the city from food to fashion.

One of the highlights of the trip was an evening's visit with longtime friend, Michael Trimpol, of Little River Hotglass, which is based in Stowe Vermont.  I have always been fond of Michael and a fan of his work in glass.  They both possess a quiet confidence, a certain inevitability and a complete lack of pretence.  They are what they are.  Trimpol used to be, perhaps still is, a collector of seashells.  His perfume bottles and vases have a striking, simple beauty like the world of organic objects.  Vibrantly coloured, precisely detailed and memorable.  Have you ever stared at a tropical fish and thought this couldn't be designed any better?  The colour is perfect, the stripe is in exactly the right place…that's the way I feel about Michael Trimpol's glass objects.  They are drop dead gorgeous.  And that's it…no message, no banners, no meaning that I need to decode.  I know I need beauty in my life, like I need sunshine and that's what I get from his glass.
 Transparent Banded Bowl

I have always been struck by Michael's lack of swagger.  The glass art world has more than its share of egotists.  Dale Chihuly years and years ago was visibly annoyed with me for not acting like a groupy.  And I've had Lutz Haufschild tell me with an absolute straight face that he had a superiority complex!  Glass artists are the rock stars of the craft world.  I won't go on about it.  Suffice it to say, that Michael Trimpol is extraordinary for his lack of bravado in and out of the studio.

Glass art has obtained some of the highest prices in the craft marketplace.  I wonder if it is taking a beating in the economic downturn.  After dinner, Michael and I peered in the windows of Birks the jewellery and fine collectibles store.  Naturally, we studied the glass together.  And we compared notes over Ireland and the fate of Waterford crystal, which has been laying off glassblowers.  Competition for the leisure dollar has never been fiercer.  It will be interesting to watch future trends.  May Little River Hotglass live long and prosper.

Perfume Bottles and Paperweight from the Helix group of designs by Michael Trimpol of Little River Hotglass 

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