Paul Harrie Zephyr Perfume Bottle

Jan 23, 2023 | Museum Monday Treasures

Today’s Museum Monday treasure from the collection of the Museum of American Glass in WV is a perfume bottle made by Paul Harrie in his Zephyr series, as well as a paperweight in the same series, another in the Striped series, and a cube paperweight in the Tectonic series. Rounding out our small collection of this masterful artist’s work is a palm tree champagne glass.

Paul Harrie was born in 1951 and died at much too young an age in 2017. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.F.A. in ceramics, then discovered glassblowing in 1975 and went on to earn a Master’s in Fine Art in glass from the University of California, Los Angeles. He started his own studio in Hawthorne, California, in 1980, where he often collaborated with his close friend, Mayauel Ward. He is quoted as saying, “I make glass because it brings me tremendous satisfaction. Glass and glassblowing have always been a joy to me. It is my means of expression as an artist.”

In his mission statement, he elaborated: “Growing up in North Dakota, my work is influenced by that pristine, snow covered landscape and the clear, icy light of winter. I like to make pieces that give the impression of opening up, finding a mysterious beautiful interior.”

Artful Home (www.artfulhome.com) describes one of his signature methods of working:

“Paul used the Italian techniques of canework to create unique pieces. He pulled rods of colored glass encased in clear glass to a length of ninety to one hundred feet, the diameter of pencil lead. After cutting the cane into toothpick lengths, he carefully sized the pieces using a wire gauge. Using these pieces of cane, he picked up patterns to create the spiral designs found in his paperweights and perfume bottles. Gathering clear glass allowed him to build up clear layers, while rolling the work in powdered colored glass creates the colored layers in his pieces. He cut the finished pieces with a diamond saw and used five separate grinding steps to finish with an optical polish. The finished piece is remarkably intricate and finished to an exceptional level.”

Paul’s mission statement also describes another technique that was uniquely his own:

“My work sometimes involves casting pieces of my glass mixed with cement into forms. When the cement and glass matrix is set up I cut it with a large diamond saw and then optically polish the cut surfaces. This tectonic series is exciting for me. It allows me to mix different sizes, shapes and colors of my glass and create a totally new piece.”

The Museum of American Glass is fortunate to have examples of both of these styles as seen here in the accompanying photographs.

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