Art Glass Engraving
The Engraved Glass Art of Steve Lee
Glass engraving is a relatively rare art form that seldom reaches the public eye. It is usually decorative in form and can be found adorning vases, drinking glasses and other glass vessels. It is most commonly perceived as a decorative art or craft.
Steve and a small number of international artists are seeking to challenge this perception, to have glass engraving seen as a pure art form rather than just a mode of decoration. Steve postulates that the glass he engraves onto is an interactive canvas; an integral part of the art but not its focus.
“In the kingdom of glass everything is transparent,
and there is no place to hide a dark heart.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
Steve achieves his engravings by using a very sharp Diamond tipped burr (point) spinning in a dental style drill. His works are then sketched onto the glass using the drill instead of a pen or pencil. The fine scratches and dots this process creates slowly begin to build up an image. Light conducted through the glass makes the scratches and dots stand out as white. Steve says that he thinks of the glass engraving process as ‘Painting with Light’ at term coined by one of history’s great engravers, Sir Lawrence Whistler.
Steve reminds us that unlike other forms of art, glass engraving constantly challenges the artist. He says:
“If a painter makes a mistake he can paint over and correct. A sketch artist can erase and a sculptor can re-sculpt. Make a mistake engraving glass and there’s no going back, all you can do is abandon the work and move on”.
The subject of Steve’s current collection focuses on Wildlife. He has a lifelong love of wildlife and can think of no other subject that so suits the medium of glass. He says:
“Glass reflects the staggering beauty of all living things
and in its brittle structure,
demonstrates wildlife’s fragility at the hand of man”.
Steve began engraving glass in 1995 and in the years followings has mainly produced pieces for private sale and commission. He hopes he has many more years left to engrave and continue to grow as an artist.
“A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light, or rather, in light”.