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Featured Artist Archive
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Featured Artist Archive > 2016

FEATURED ARTIST:
DAVID HELM

Editor: Angela Bowey

Purple Haze
Purple Haze
size approximately 4"x4"x4"
(click picture to enlarge)

David Helm describes himself as "a sixty-something retired auto worker who began creating in glass during the late 1970's." He was a skilled tradesman with the Ford Motor Company from 1972 until 2008, but in 1999 his love of color and hot glass led him to return to school, studying part time at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. After he retired from his "day job" in 2008, David was able to devote himself to finishing his degree. In 2013, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree majoring in glass.

David's early glass experience was with stained glass. But when he took his first glassblowing class about 20 years ago, he knew he had found his true love. "Working with molten glass is an unbelievable thrill to those who have tried it", he says. "The thrill and beauty of making glass objects is unique." Since retiring from the Ford Motor Company, and then graduating from the College for Creative Studies, David has been kept very busy. Working with one of his classmates, Tim Southward, they built their own hot glass studio. David combines cane work with fusing, drilling, bonding, cutting to shape and polishing to produce polyhedral and complex sculptures like the one above, which he calls "Purple Haze".

To David, sculpture is a natural progression from hand blown glass. First, he makes the glass cane with its coloured enclosures & anneals it. Then he cuts pieces of the cane and arranges them in a pattern before fusing this all together. The next stage may include drilling or bonding, followed by cutting and polishing to produce the final shape. The example below is called "City Scape"; it features drilling, cutting and polishing.

City Scape
City Scape
size approximately 4"x4"x4"
(click picture to enlarge)

It amazes David that something as ordinary as sand and heat can be turned into great art as well as a vast array of the components of contemporary life — windows, light bulbs, bottles, insulation, computer screens as well as wondrous art forms. He likens glass to royalty of the dark ages: insane, inbred and willful. At times in our history, he says, glass has been valued more than human life. Artisans in Venice were treated like royalty themselves; but they were murdered if they tried to share their secrets with others.

David sees trial and error as part of the creation process. The slightest lapse in the intense concentration necessary to create in this art form can cause failure of all one's hard work and effort. However, a controlled flick of the wrist or puff of air in the pipe can make an outstanding work of art. The focus and intensity of the process are demanding as are the high heat levels. Each of his creations focuses on visual depth in the glass as it reflects, captures and magnifies light and displays the colours from within.

Cells
Cells
size approximately 6"x6"x6"
(click picture to enlarge)

As a glass artist David says you are limited only by your imagination. You can never say, "I've done it all." His current series of works deal with what expression, or gesture, might look like if frozen in time. His glass is made to be handled and enjoyed. He loves sharing his glass fascination with anyone who is interested and it gives him a great feeling of fulfillment when a bond of appreciation forms with a stranger who is contemplating one of David's creations. His motivation is to make others happy and put a smile on their face.

He says he has never been happier as he continues to explore the world of glass and see people appreciating his work.

Cells
David Helm

David Helm can be contacted by email at dghelm@att.net or by telephone to (313) 886-1152. More of his work can be seen on the Michigan Glass website at www.michiganglass.org/member/david-helm/.


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