Video Transcript

John:               This is John from the Cupboard and CupboardGlassPipes.com and we're with Bandhu. Tell us about what inspired you to become a glass blower.

Bandhu:           I was interested in chemistry as a kid. I had a pretty extensive chemistry lab in my parents basement. By the time I was 15, I was doing semi-micro qualitative analysis for fun. I thought I wanted to learn glass blowing in order to make elaborate chemical apparatus because what I really wanted was to be a mad scientist. I got some books out of the library, just starting experimenting, teaching myself. Back then, there weren't many people who would teach you. I taught myself and eventually the glass became more compelling than the chemistry was.

                        I started doing more glass and I ended up dropping out of engineering school to be an artist. Since then, I've written some how to books on glass blowing that a lot of people have in their studios for learning. I've just started doing pipes in the last couple of years. I've done a lot of different sculptural things before that and I've been working with kinetic sculpture for ten years, like this marble machine. It's got six functional pieces in it, sort of hidden within the structure, but it's also got my kinetic work, which is sort of a consciousness-altering device in its own right.

John:                This is obviously a star of the show. Is this your favorite piece?

Bandhu:           This is probably my favorite piece here. Everybody stops and looks at this piece. I don't know how many hundreds of people have stopped and stared at it over the course of the last couple of days.

John:                Tell us a little bit about what went into making such an elaborate piece like this.

Bandhu:           I'm interested in a shamanistic aesthetic, a relationship to altered states of consciousness and viewing the natural world in ways that are multidimensional and transcending our ordinary perception. For me, that's what glass is about anyway because glass is such a magical material. For me, that really works well with the whole idea of functional glass. I think really that's what in the back of people's minds also. Anyone making functional glass, it always has this other worldly shamanistic quality, whether that's in the front of people's awareness or not.

                        I'm just trying to take that shamanistic element, bring it right up to the front, altered states of consciousness, different ways of perceiving things. The kinetic glass, like I said, it puts you in an altered state just by itself. You don't even need to smoke anything. You just hang out with this piece and look at it for a few hours and it just takes you to another place.

Bandhu:          The title of this piece is ALFRED, which stands for Albeit Lightly Feminine Realization Enforces Divinity. I sometimes give my pieces titles that are acronyms. The way it works is the basic elevator mechanism is what's called an Archimedes screw. These have been used in agriculture for raising water, for irrigating fields and stuff. It's used in a lot of industrial processes where some rolling material needs to be carried up.

                        It's an Archimedes screw that's turning. The marbles are rested on the inside, and they just get carried up the spiral in a continuous way. There's a little feeder down here that makes sure that only one marble goes in at a time, right here. That's tied in with this oblong shaped piece here on the spiral. There's a cam, basically that's a cam with a rider, and that triggers the mechanism for the feeder. The marbles go up, they come out the top, they've traveled down their path, and it all starts over again.

Bandhu:           ...spherical sculptures for years, I have some in museums around the world. I decided to make functional bases for some of my spheres for this show. You can see here, this sphere just comes off this stand, and it would go on another little simple ring stand to hold it. The base is functional. You flip it upside down. This one has a flower bowl up here. It's a flower bowl. Mouthpiece is over here. These other two arms are just solid. They're blocked off. They don't do anything. You've got your artwork, and you got your functional element hiding in plain sight.

                        This other one, this red one in the foreground here, this one is a little bit more elaborate. This sphere comes off, and this is actually a rig. You flip it over. You have to put some water in there. You got a dome, it goes right there. There's a mouthpiece that goes right there at whatever angle you like, and these other two legs are sealed off. Here's a little dabber that goes with it. That's fun. Again, it's the functional aspect hidden in plain sight.

Bandhu:           This is one of my spheres. It has a functional base. You just lift the sphere off the base. There will be another ring that it will sit on that will come with it so you can put it down, it doesn't roll away. Then here's the stand. You just flip it over. It's a dry flower piece. Here's the bowl. This is the mouthpiece here. You can see it's sealed off here so the smoke just goes through here. There's a little carve down there.

John:                Some lucky customer actually gets to take this home. What would you want the customer to know about what went into this piece, and the inspiration?

Bandhu:           The sphere is the original perfect form in classic geometry. So, to me, the spheres, with that webby organic pattern which is full of imperfections and variations is about both the imperfection and perfection of life. To me, these spheres summarize the human condition right there. That's what they're about to me.

                        I really like, it doesn't show on this set up here, but the shadow of this piece. When it's sitting on its base, if you display it with a bright light shining from above, which is what a lot of people do, a halogen or spot or something, you get these really great shadows underneath. That to me is really part of the piece. It projects itself from three dimensions into two dimensions.

John:                A lot of love and inspiration went into this piece.

Bandhu:           Yeah. These pieces, they take a long time to work it and get it into the spherical form that I'm really satisfied with. In between, it's a little bit frustrating because it's a little bit off. You can't really tell exactly what to get into it. You get into it, work it work it work it, and then when it's done it's this perfect sphere. It feels almost like holding a balloon or an inflated ball. I really encourage people to hold them and play around with them, although sometimes people are too scared. They're pretty sturdy. As long as you don't drop it on the ground, it's going to be fine.

Bandhu:           This is one of my spheres. It has a functional base. You just lift the sphere off the base. There will be another ring that it will sit on that will come with it so you can put it down, it doesn't roll away. Then here's the stand. You just flip it over. It's a dry flower piece. Here's the bowl. This is the mouthpiece here. You can see it's sealed off here so the smoke just goes through here. There's a little carve down there.

John:                Some lucky customer actually gets to take this home. What would you want the customer to know about what went into this piece, and the inspiration?

Bandhu:           The sphere is the original perfect form in classic geometry. To me, the spheres with that webby organic pattern which is full of imperfections and variations is about both the imperfection and perfection of life. To me, these spheres summarize the human condition right there. That's what they're about to me.

                        I really like, it doesn't show on this set up here, but the shadow of this piece. When it's sitting on its base, if you display it with a bright light shining from above, which is what a lot of people do, a halogen or spot or something, you get these really great shadows underneath. That to me is really part of the piece. It projects itself from three dimensions into two dimensions.

John:                A lot of love and inspiration went into this piece.

Bandhu:           Yeah. These pieces, they take a long time to work it and get it into the spherical form that I'm really satisfied with. In between, it's a little bit frustrating because it's a little bit off. You can't really tell exactly what to get into it. You get into it, work it work it work it, and then when it's done it's this perfect sphere. It feels almost like holding a balloon or an inflated ball. I really encourage people to hold them and play around with them, although sometimes people are too scared. They're pretty sturdy. As long as you don't drop it on the ground, it's going to be fine.

John:                Very cool.

John:                Tell us about some of the perks of being a glass blower. How would you describe those?

Bandhu:           You get to burn yourself and cut yourself from time to time, but glass really seriously is a lot of fun. It's very addictive. Once you start playing with molten glass, it's never the same after that. You get bitten by the glass bug and then you've just got to do it. It's sometimes hard to explain to people.

John:                Since you brought up injuries, it is a field that has its injuries. Tell us about some of your history.

Bandhu:           It's like skateboarding or anything else. My history of injuries, burns and cuts from time to time. I've got a burn on my elbow right now from just touching something. It's real easy to forget what parts of the piece are hot. You have to be organized as you're working. Sometimes in the heat of the moment if something needs to be turned at a different angle, you can just find yourself with a piece of hot glass against your skin that you didn't plan to do. Sometimes you just have to put up with it. It's one of the perks.

John:       The Cupboard and CupboardGlassPipes.com would love to help you stay in touch with your fans. Where can we find you on social media?

Bandhu:           I'm on Instagram at @BandhuDunham, B-A-N-D-H-U-D-U-N-H-A-M. My website is X-O-R-P-L-E-X.com.