Jason Gamrath is a master glassblower from Seattle. His work primarily involves creating enormous, yet incredibly life-like orchids and carnivorous flowers using his expert glass blowing techniques. Through his art, he wants to help people appreciate the minute details of the plant kingdom on a magnified level.
Jason’s glass orchids are gigantic – each one is bigger than a human head. But Jason doesn’t compromise on detailing. The colors are vivid and all the features of real flowers are accurately represented on his glass replicas. “The purpose of creating this series on a macro scale is to bring to light the beauty that exists within the micro scale of nature,” he said. He wants to force people to notice the details that they’re prone to miss while ‘walking around as a big person’.
Jason’s work was exhibited in three exciting stages throughout the summer last year, at the Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle. The show was called ‘Botanical Exotica’ – it started with a bouquet of 10-foot-tall orchids in April, followed by a display of the Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plant in June. The grand finale in August featured an exquisite collection of glass flowers made of 1,000 pieces of glass, taking up the entire Cactus Room.
Jason stumbled upon glass making at the age of 16. He worked on a variety of projects before starting his plant-based series. Previously, the 25-year-old had done an exhibit called ‘Flesh and Bone’ that was inspired by the pain he felt at the end of a long relationship. “After I got out of all the negativity, this project felt like the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Throughout his journey, Jason has derived inspiration from the works of American master glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. “Chihuly supplied every legacy that I’ve learned under,” he said. Some have suggested that Jason’s work is fast approaching Chihuly’s standards and may someday be regarded just as good. But for now, he’s just focused on doing bigger and better work. “Half of what I make is not perfect, and if it’s not perfect I don’t want it. I don’t want to see it again.”
Jason works exclusively with powdered glass. He begins with a molten bubble, creating petals and then dusting them with powder. He sometimes adds another layer of glass before dusting it again. He carefully reproduces the veins, the various gradients of color, and other delicate details that make the flowers so extraordinary. As he completes each section, he dips it into cold water to make the glass crack, and fills the crevices with more powdered glass. It takes him ‘hundreds of hours’ to create each pieces.
Before starting work on the glass flowers, Jason spent six months studying the complex morphology of orchidaceous species. His ultimate question was, ‘How did this thing evolve?’ which is what he hoped his audience would also ask after they observe his extraordinary, handcrafted steel and colored glass creations. “It is my hope that when people admire my large-scale renderings, they become curious and captivated by the hints of realism I incorporate into my designs,” he said.
With all the effort that went into these exquisite creations, it isn’t surprising that they were priced at $15,000 a stem.