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Nature inspires blown glass gallery

William Ortman creates blown glass sculptures, which resemble the sun, moon or human eye. Credit: Oliver Boch | Lantern Reporter

Developed over two years with inspiration from nature and the help of fellow artists, William Ortman displays the results of hours of sweating over furnaces and molten glass in a show at Sherrie Gallerie.

Ortman’s body of work is made up of blown glass sculptures, many of which resemble the sun, moon or human eye, all things that inspire and fascinate the artist.

With each piece taking around 6 to 8 hours to complete — beginning with forming the base chunk of glass and creating the disks that are later added to the final shape — each piece is a weighty work embedded with rich designs.

Ortman discovered glass blowing when he attended Columbus College of Art and Design and a friend took him down to the glass lab so Ortman could see how it all worked.

“I saw glass blowing and I just fell in love with that,” Ortman said. “I’m fortunate to be able to stick with it.”  

Ortman said glass blowing and sculpting can be difficult to work with for a long period of time as the materials are pricey and require special equipment. However, he teaches beginner glass-blowing classes in order to work with the medium more often and introduce people to the art.

Ortman has been working with friend and fellow artist Joe Wyman for approximately four years. Although they didn’t meet until they both found themselves working for local glass artist Jack Pine, they went through the same school systems and both graduated from CCAD.

Wyman said these similar experiences are what make working together so easy and praised Ortman for his prowess as an artist. Wyman called Ortman “incredibly motivated” and “an extraordinarily hard worker” in the studio.

“He’s built everything he has himself,” Wyman said.

Wyman said Ortman’s work sells itself and appeals to a wide audience, which enables him to continue glass blowing as a full-time job.

Both Ortman and Wyman were trained in a combination of American and Italian design techniques. Wyman said this is what gives them an edge in the glass market.

“We have a lot of room to grow and get better,” Wyman said. “We’re right in the middle – we’ve got a leg up on the American-only guys but we’re not as good as some of the Italian guys that have been doing it their entire lives.”

The show is available to see until March 3 at Sherrie Gallerie in the Short North at 694 N High St. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

 

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