The Jack Storms Process: How He Makes Exquisite Optical Glass Art

Optical glass artwork called Aerial by artist Jack Storms

The magical, intricate glass sculptures created by artist Jack Storms are both dazzling and puzzling at first sight. How can light reflect in the interior of the glass in such intricate patterns, and how can glass be carved in such a way while still preserving its structural integrity?

While true understanding of this art form takes decades to master, we’ll do our best to unravel the mysteries of optical glass art and the Jack Storms process of sculpture-making. Don’t forget to explore the Jack Storms collection in our online gallery, or in person at Marcus Ashley Gallery.

What Is Optical Glass Art?

Optical glass art is a remarkably unique sculpture medium. Unlike traditional glass art, in the Jack Storms process, there is no heat involved. The cold glass process includes only cutting, polishing, and laminating the glass.

The sculptures start with a large block of lead crystal. Lead crystal is a kind of glass that contains at least 24% lead oxide. Lead crystal has superior shine and brilliance when cut, and is often found in fine antique glassware made before lead was commonly known to be toxic for drinking. Without heat, lead crystal is exceptionally difficult to work with.

To create his pieces, Jack Storms slices the lead crystal in geometric patterns. Then, he inserts slivers of dichroic glass with intense precision into the slices, carefully gluing and sealing them into place with high-end epoxy. Dichroic glass is a coated, iridescent material that shifts colors depending on the view angle, and has been used for a startling visual effect in glasswork for centuries.

Light passes through the lead crystal differently than the dichroic glass. The Jack Storms process involves carefully paying attention to the refractive index: the rate at which light passes through the material. The epoxy shares the same refractive index as the dichroic glass, but not the lead crystal. By paying attention to this scientific aspect, Jack Storms can create illusions of depth within the glass itself, as if elements are suspended within the glass.

The resulting piece of optical glass art has to be seen to be believed. The light plays off of the hundreds of surfaces in a dazzling display of prismatic effects, creating what resembles a sparkling kaleidoscope. The effect is not chaotic; it is startlingly perfect and geometric, almost alien. Indeed, two of Jack Storms’ art pieces were used in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy in the background of an alien planet scene!

How Unique is the Jack Storms Process?

Jack Storms is one of only three prominent cold glass craftsmen in the world. Why? Cold glass, as the process is also known, is an extremely difficult craft to master and requires specialized tools that few people have access to.

Additionally, Jack Storms’ process can be very dangerous. Storms lost sight in his right eye after a piece of glass flew off the lathe while working. The accident took him away from his craft for almost a year, but he came back to it with renewed vigor, letting nothing stop him from pursuing his passion.

Each of his optical glass art pieces takes around 8 to 18 weeks to complete — sometimes years. The tolerance and precision required, as well as the skill and experience, makes each piece a daunting and time-consuming challenge. There are no shortcuts with this work: each individual lamination is a laborious task that requires intense focus and patience.

The work is highly tactical and mathematical, but it is not without artistic spirit and passion. Storms takes great care to incorporate famous art ratios found in nature, including the Fibonacci sequence. Many of Storms’ finest pieces are inspired by his greatest loves in life, his wife and son, and he pours his love for them into all his work.

Experience Jack Storms Art In Person at Marcus Ashley Gallery

Marcus Ashley Gallery is very proud to host several of Jack Storms’ most stunning optical glass creations. You can come see them for yourself in our premier gallery in South Lake Tahoe, where we feature some of the most recognizable contemporary artists of the 21st century.

We strive to make both our online gallery and our physical location a welcoming, inspiring experience. If you have any questions about purchasing Jack Storms optical glass art for your collection, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our skilled art consultants.

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