Jess Wainer - A Glass Act

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Jess Wainer is a glass artist in sunny California, and when we first laid eyes on her candy-colored vases, we nearly licked the screen. After recovering from our visual sugar rush, we talked to Jess to get the scoop on her glass gems.

What do you make and why do you make it?

I make colorful blown glass vessels that enliven the home spaces they occupy. I also make one of a kind, custom, blown glass light fixtures and chandeliers for residential and commercial spaces. Recently, my lighting has found its home in local offices, bars, and restaurants. I make art because I love it. It is an integral part of who I am and how I engage with and interpret the world around me. 

You tapped into your creativity early in life, what’s the first thing you remember making and feeling really proud of?

Although I would say I have been an artist since my conception, the first creation I was really proud of was the pencil drawing of a bicycle I made for my RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) undergraduate application. 

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You’ve said that nature has always been a big source of inspiration (what better place to be than Northern California!), what kinds of objects/shapes in the natural world are you drawn to?

Plants, flowers, and insects. And of course, women.  

While you work in many mediums, glass is special for you. What excites you about the process and makes you itch to get in the studio?

The heat, the physicality of working with hot glass, the optics, and the dichotomy of glass’s strength and fragility, are all qualities that attracted me to the material. I pretty much feel a longing to be in the studio constantly. It is a sanctuary for reflection, restoration, and relaxation for me. 

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What’s a day of work like for you?

Head over to the shop around 8/8:30. Set up and clean all of my tools. Make sure the propane tanks are full and glass color is up to temperature in the color box. Meet with my assistant to go over the projects we are going to tackle for the day.  Pick out the soundtrack for the morning and get started. We blow glass from 9-5 with a break for lunch. At 5 we send down the annealer after one last peak to see what we’ve made. Chat about the day over chips and salsa, fruit, and brownies. And then head home and relax for the evening. 

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How do you use your glass in your own home?

Pretty much everywhere. I made all of the drinking glasses. Polka dot bowls for salad, smaller solid colored glass bowls for sauces, nuts, fruits, and ice cream. More large polka dot bowls for produce. I have some new gold and mandarin orange votives on the dining table and in the bathroom. And mini bud vases for flowers in the bedroom, bathroom, dining room and office.  

What are you interested in exploring with your work in the future?

Lighting has become the most significant part of what I make. I am excited to continue expanding my custom fabricated glass parts for lighting that I make for interior designers. I am also working on a line of LED tabletop lamps and illuminated sculptures with nature themed sandblasted designs on them. I just got back from a meeting in LA with the LED fabricators at Cerno whom I am thrilled to be collaborating with.

Thanks Jess! While you can spot her work at SFMOMA, and The Oakland Museum, you can also make like the artist herself and use these beauties to inject your own space with a sweet shot of color. You’ll find her Mini Bud Vases and Teardrop Vases today on Fab.

Meredith Spencer

Notes

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