David J. Schwarz | Z-Axis, . . .
David J. Schwarz

born 1952
Resides in Ridgefield, Washington

Biography      Statement      Ask the Artist      In the Studio
David J. Schwarz received his Master of Science, with an emphasis in Glass, from Illinois State University, Normal, in 1982. He studied there with Joel Philip Myers . Schwarz taught at the Pilchuck Glass School from 1979 to 1986 in the summers. His works have been shown throughout the United States, in Canada, and in France.

Some of David Schwarz's glass sculptures are in the permanent collections of the City of Seattle; the Museum of Art and Archaeology, at the University of Missouri- Columbia; and the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.


In understanding my work and to know why I do what I do, it will help to know a little about my background and a few of the major influences that have affected my directions.

For three generations now the men in my family have been engineers. When I completed my military tour in the Army in 1974, and with no idea what career I wished to pursue, the simplest and most obvious choice was to continue the tendency of my brothers, father, and grandfather and pursue a career in engineering. For two summers while going to school, I worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation surveying and inspecting concrete. While training for a career in engineering my escape and passion was jewelry. I had and I guess I still do have a weakness for the brilliance of a wonderfully cut gem.

My "Z-Axis" series represents my interest in illusionary space. In geometry, X-Axis is the horizontal line, the Y is the vertical, the Z-Axis is the imaginary line that goes back into space. I am interested in the Z-Axis--the physical and emotional perception of three-dimensional space through illusion. Optics, perspective, translucency, and color are all tools in trying to create a more perfect illusion.

I draw structures that read mass, and place them in an environment devoid of gravity. Through the use of optics I give the structures life and the freedom to move about my space.

I want my work to be visually explored. While the viewers eye is moving about my space I am hoping that the eye will evoke a physical reaction or sensation of weightlessness.

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

Ideas for my work come from various sources; some are visions, some are developed over a series of trial and errors while others are results of an evolution process.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

In the hot working part of my work or the glass blowing process, I have at least two if not three other assistants helping me blow my forms. The cold working part of the process, grinding, polishing, taping on the drawing, sand blasting, and painting, I have one other person helping me with the grinding and polishing process. I cut the facets, lay out the drawings, sandblast and paint the drawings.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I do not have a formal teaching job, but while we are blowing I can have many visitors in various age groups visit to watch. I try to introduce them to some of the new and experimental things that I and other artists are doing with glass. I would take on an apprentices if it would work out for them and me.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

The most exciting part of creating my work to others is the blowing process. Creating the drawing for me can be the most fulfilling part of the processes since that is where most of the decisions are made.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

The most difficult part of my work is grinding the facets. To be successful, skill, concentration, and determination are needed to perform this part of the process.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

Many various technologies are used to produce my work. To blow and grind glass takes a tremendous amount of specialized equipment. Most studio owners build their own equipment. I had to know something about combustion, refractors, electricity, metal smithing, wood working, and the nature of glass to produce my work. The only technology that has changed dramatically with my craft over the past 100 years is in the refractors and glues for lamination processes of glass. The majority of the processes have existed for hundreds of years.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

The cheapest and in most cases the best way to learn the craft glass is in the college and university art department systems. Look for a teacher and learning environment that will best fit your directions with the medium.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

I have no secrets when it comes to my work. I have many technical things that I learned through the trial and error process. It would be too lengthy to try and explain these things at this time.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

My work is about the sensations created from visually exploring these pieces inside and out. Movement of your eye activates the drawings through the facets giving them life. Without the ability to personally, visually explore my work a complete experience cannot be achieved.

In the Studio

VIDEO (1 MB)   Rolling the molten glass . . .

VIDEO (1.8 MB)  Shaping the molten glass . . .

VIDEO (1.1 MB)  Viewing "in the round"...

Adrian Saxe Lincoln Seitzman