January 8, 2011

It truly requires a glass-blowing extraordinaire to capture the inextricable kinetic force of the ocean into a single static form of glass art. As you peer into the crashing wave of David Wight’s unique creation you can instantly hear the sound of the wave breaking upon the shore. This phenomenon has led his followers to fondly refer to him as “Big Wave Dave.”

Capturing this immense energy in such a unique art form instantly brings to life any space that it occupies. In it one may find its beauty as simple and timeless while another is immediately induced into a nostalgic coma drawing upon treasured memories of the coast. The term “Treasure Coast” now takes on a double entendre, and we at The Laughing Dog Gallery could not be happier to be a part of it.

For another appreciative eye of this unique glass art, one may see classical mechanics brought to life in a new way. “Big Wave Dave” remarkably captures Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, which simply states that an object moves at a constant velocity unless acted on by an external force. In this case, David Wight is clearly that external force, capturing the beauty in his unique form of glass art.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with the talented glass-smith himself and ask him some questions for our blog audience. Here we will delve into all things David Wight and gain a little insight into the musings of “Big Wave Dave.”

The Laughing Dog Gallery: How did you become interested in glass forming artistry?

David Wight: I had never been involved in anything with the arts until 16 years ago, after I graduated college. After graduation I started thinking about what I wanted my lifestyle to look like instead of what job was available. I knew I wanted to work with water and bring water into people’s lives. Water had always been a big part of my life and I had long ago recognized the healing and therapeutic qualities of running water. Then one day I was drawn to an open house at a local glass shop, and after seeing the glass being blown, I realized it would be the perfect material to create the blown glass water fountain I had envisioned. So I set out to learn how to blow glass.

LDG: Throughout your career what has had the most influence on your work?

DW: It is fascinating to work with material that is 2,000 degrees when you are sculpting it. Trying to capture the essence of water with this molten, fiery, lava-like material is very challenging and influential in and of itself.

LDG: What was the most valuable lesson you learned from master instructor Therman Statom?

DW: He would always say to me, “David, just make the water.” This was very frustrating to me because I was trying to figure out these elements: what is “make the water,” how to grasp what that would even look like, and how would I do it? He was definitely the teacher, my only teacher in fact, that pushed me into the unknown area of trying to figure out what sculpture and what form it would take to capture the movement of water.

LDG: Where are your favorite places to go for inspiration and what do you like to do at these places?

DW: I spend a lot of time in Florida doing shows, so being on the water, regardless of how big or small the waves are, I find inspiration. While on the beach I love watching the natural flow of the waves. I also hike by my house in Bellingham, Washington. I’ll go to waterfalls or along rivers to sit and watch the continuous movement of the water. I stay until the essence of the water is coursing through me so that when I get to the glass shop, I can incorporate the movements and rhythm into the glass.

LDG: Have you always had a fascination with water? How did it begin?

DW: My love for the water has always been a big part of my life. Ironically enough, when I was 11, I was in a river on a family vacation and almost drowned. This moment was monumental in that it gave me respect for the power of the water and also made me realize how short life is. There’s not a lot of time to waste doing something that you don’t absolutely love.

LDG: Can you explain your process and what is unique about it?

DW: There was no one to learn from, as far as the techniques it would take to create what I wanted to make, because nobody was manipulating the glass the way I would need to in order to bring to life the sculptures I had envisioned. The trial and error it took to figure out how to sculpt the glass so that it looked and felt like water was one of great expense. You only have about 5 to 10 seconds to sculpt during the period of time it is hot enough, but also cool enough. If it gets too cool it will crack and crash to the floor.

LDG: What is your favorite color?

DW: I’m not going to say blue [laughs]; it was always blue growing up, but I am not going to say that. Instead, I’ll say turquoise. It’s the color that resembles the water in Florida that I am currently making now. If it were not that, it would be red or orange, which are the colors of the waves when I’m making them regardless of the color that I put in. When the glass is hot, it’s reddish orange, so I’m working with all of my favorite colors.

LDG: The colors within the waves are so beautiful. How is the color infused in the center of the wave?

DW: We get the colors from a factory in Germany. They take the oxides from metals and inject them into the raw glass. We can either get them in solid form or all the way down into a powder form. I use the small gravel form with the color injected, that way it layers in and the colors combine to melt and mix together. This allows me to achieve the colors I want: either the real vibrant blue or the rich turquoise.

LDG: Do you stick strictly with glassblowing or do you work within any other forms of artistic expressions?

DW: I didn’t think I had an artistic bone in my body, but when I got into glass forming it felt natural. Like I had been doing it for a long time. Recently, I have been playing around with paints and watercolors. Who knows what will come out next, but maybe something that can accompany the work I’m already doing.

LDG: What new pieces and designs do you want to work on in the future, or you are currently working on?

DW: New sculptures depend on whenever the inspiration comes to me. Most recently are the Water Dance Wave sculptures in which two waves wrap around each other. This is symbolic of relationships where two people are coming together from the same space, or in terms of the waves the same body of water, but traveling in their own unique path as they are circling around yet supporting each other simultaneously.

LDG: What is your favorite piece in your collection?

DW: While I was trying to figure out the form of what I wanted to make the water sculptures into, I was sculpting freehand, and this resulted in a piece in my own home that served as the precursor to the wave sculptures.

LDG: What do you think is the most valuable advice for an aspiring artist?

DW: Follow your heart and your passion. Never stop for anyone; just continue to follow what you love. That is where you’ll find happiness.

We want to thank David Wight for taking the time to talk to us and provide interesting dialogue for our readers. The Laughing Dog Gallery is proud to announce that this is the inaugural blog for our upcoming “Featured Artist Series.” From time to time, we will catch up with some of our great artists and use the opportunity to find out a little more about them, from their beginnings, to their inspirations, down to, well, even their favorite color!

Soon we will also be fielding questions from our own readers for upcoming artists taking part in the series. We look forward to the discussions as we delve into all things art. Own Art, Be Happy!