Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peking Glass Vase by Robert Kuo

Almost two years ago I spotted an amazing double gourd shaped vase in turquoise sitting in the window of Baker Furniture on La Cienega, and I had to immediately pull over for a closer look.

I discovered that it was WAY out of my budget, so I snapped a few photos (as I do of almost everything I lust after), and figured I'd be back for it in a few years if I was very lucky.

Yesterday I visited Baker Furniture again, and asked if they still had the vase.  While they have some in other colors, they don't currently have one in turquoise, however I'm told they can definitely get me one.   I had remembered the price to be around $3,000, however it's actually about half that, so whilst it's by no means a realistic purchase for right now, I can dream about maybe receiving it as a gift some time in the not so distant future!   

Whist I was at Baker I learnt a little bit more about the process by which they are made, and why they're so expensive.  Turns out the vase is Peking glass, by Robert Kuo (who also has a store on Melrose opposite the PDC).  The hand-blown sculptural vases are made in China, using a centuries old technique (first developed during the Ching Dynasty in China around 1644!) where layers upon layers of glass are formed by free-blowing.  

A collection of yellow Peking glass Robert Kuo pieces from Gump's:

Another shot of the turquoise gourd vase:

They start with a single piece of molten glass that is blown and formed into the desired shape, then add up to six layers of molten glass, allow to cool slowly for several days, after which the vases are cut and polished by jade carvers.   It's an extremely time consuming method, resulting in incredible thickness and visible "rings" much like the cross section of a tree.  The process is apparently illegal here in the US due to the chemicals involved, which does make me a bit nervous!

No two pieces are alike, they are created in limited quantities, and each piece is a collectible when signed by the artist.


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