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The Making of Dancing Blooms, Flying Fish, Spring Lights Converge

Loretta H. Yang

Art Collection Background

Glass blowing work
Figure 1: LIULI artisan turning 30kg of molten crystal

Figure 2: LIULI artisan blowing 30kg of molten crystal

A visit to the infernos of a LIULI studio reveals the intense pain and struggle that comes with mastering an art collection. By the same token, it also reveals the wonder and satisfaction of it. Mastering an art collection takes a brilliant idea, hundreds of tries, some muscle and lots and lots of patience. When “Dancing Blooms, Flying Fish, Spring Lights Converge” hit art galleries and boutiques in 2010, the glass art had already undertaken over a year in transformations, mastered again and again.

White Yulan Luck, A Vase of Riches
Figure 3: "White Yulan Luck, a Vase of Riches"

What is truly challenging about artworks that have never been attempted is transforming the stuff of dreams into reality. The more surreal one’s imagination, the more impossible the attempt. Yet, LIULI artists were adamant about crafting the “bao ping” (or treasure vases)—lavishly ornamented and gold-leaf adorned vessels topped with goldfish and flowers.

Treasure Vase - In Praise of the Tulip, A Vase of Riches
Figure 4: "In Praise of the Tulip, A Vase of Riches"

Not just goldfish and flowers; goldfish moving and transforming into flowers. Goldfish leaping and twisting, flowing with layers of color into layer upon layer of delicate flower petals. Still, that movement, appearing whole and flawless, was not achieved by the imagination alone.

The pate-de-verre discipline of casting crystal sculptures typically requires a few layers of supporting molds. Many pieces of “Dancing Blooms” required up to ten, because the more delicate the flower petal, the stronger it must be. Reflected in the sweat of LIULI craftsmen here is the notion that true elegance, true beauty, is won by back-breaking effort and sweat.

Gilding processFigure 5: Gilding process, LIULI artisan apply gold foil onto 1000C degree bowl.

While the head of each treasure vase in this collection is carefully crafted and re-crafted, the body of it is mouth-blown. Artists hoist 30kg of molten crystal, turning and blowing for hours until a perfect shape is produced. Then, seizing the perfect moment, they then slap on sheets of gold foil to the lava-hot liquid glass. The result is glimmering gold patterns across the body of each artwork, unique to every treasure vase.

“Dancing Blooms, Flying Fish, Spring Lights Converge” takes the historical concept of the “bao ping” and applies it in a way that’s never been done before. As with all lavish and richly decorated treasure vases in history, they reflect a time of sumptuous wealth. But moreover, they reflect the beauty and quality of having wealth… of being generous, kind and elegant.



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