In occasion of “Les Journees Europeennes des Metiers d’Art en Wallonie” in Liège, we have met the glass maker Jane-Sylvie Van den Bosch, who is part of the Belgian non-profit Association Verribelglass (VGB).
How VerriBelGlass was born?
We were thinking to create something together since we were students at the IKA Mechelen. Patrick Van Tilborgh, the current President of VerriBelGlass, and I have known each other since 2007. After two years, in March 2009 the non-profit Association VerriBelGlass (VBG) was funded.
After eight years, the Association is composed by a heterogeneous group of glass addicted and glass artists from all glass disciplines and of all ages. We all share the same creative project based on information, education and exchange.
What are the objectives of the Association?
The purpose is to promote the appreciation and development of glass crafts and contemporary Glass Art in Belgium and beyond. We aim at informing the public about the extreme diversity of techniques used for glass through demonstrations, on-site events, and exhibitions.
We want to facilitate communication and exchange of know-how and knowledge among all the people interested or already involved in the field. Furthermore, we offer workshops and classes at all levels to introduce students to the art and techniques of contemporary glass.
Which techniques do you use? How do you organize on-site events?
We work with glass blowing, glass casting, glass paste (kiln casting), printing on glass and other techniques usually at the Studio GlassFarm in Lier (Antwerp) but, when possible, we are happy to move to other cities for events and fairs. When we organize on-site events and demonstrations we bring with us what we call the Mobile Glass Studio. We have different melting furnaces for the production of craft glass and all the instruments we need. For demonstrations, we work mostly with glass blowing. We organize also exhibition with our works, like the exposition Transparences that was displayed for the European Artistic Crafts Days in Liège.
How far did the Association go with the Mobile Glass Studio?
The most distant place we reached is Paris for a glass festival. We have been many times in Luxemburg too.
Why did you create this Association?
Firstly, we believe that being together we are stronger. We are looking for interns and volunteers to promote our activities as the more we grow as Association, the more things we can organize together. We have no financial subsidies to which we rely on, just our passion and the will to create something together.
Secondly, being together we are happier. We strongly believe in the exchange of knowledge and in common experimentation. We have other job and professions, for example I now teach at the IKA Mechelen School, so our goal is not to produce rather to create. Our idea is to promote glass blowing and the other glass techniques as something purely fun, a play of aesthetical experimentation.
What about other professional glass makers? They need to run their business in a sustainable way and since the market is struggling, how do they react to the Association playful approach?
It is funny because they are initially suspicious and sceptic about what we do. I can understand why, the professionals who produce craft glass might think that we are playing with something which is not a play but their job.
It happened many times during events that we met some sceptic glass makers, we invited them to join us for a try and then they enjoyed experimenting together so much they didn’t want to leave us anymore!
To run their business, they make a big effort every day to have a profit, given that a glass-maker studio can be very expensive to maintain. With the Association, they re-discovered the pleasure of creation and experimentation as an end unto itself.
How did you start working with glass?
I was working with painting and decoration but then my personal experiences brought me to try experimenting with glass and I fell in love with it. I find that there is a similarity of the process of creation and change in glass with the processes of the Universe itself. Thus, I decided to attend the School IKA Mechelen in Belgium when I was 35 years old and I have been working with glass since then.
What about the future?
We want to expand our network of glass makers, including also the neighbouring countries, and keep working to not let this know-how and profession disappear, as it is part of our culture and for this reason should be protected.
VerriBelGlass will continue promoting craft and artistic glass, its extreme diversity and richness, and we will keep having great fun doing it.
by Giulia Di Matteo, Madina Benvenuti and Lola Piccinin