Peter Raos is without a doubt one of the leading paperweight artist in the Southern Hemisphere. His work frequently appears in international paperweight exhibitions and catalogues. It has taken Peter nearly twenty years to achieve the levels of accuracy and creative representation of nature to be seen today in these beautiful pieces. He once compared his glass work to that of a painter "If I am a watercolour painter, the furnace full of molten glass is my water, which is my base, and the rods (of coloured glass) are my colours".
Most of Peter's vases, bowls, paperweights, and perfume bottles depict scenes from nature, either flowers or underwater scenes.
Above: Marine paperweights: Under-water scenes with star fish, sea anemones, fish and waving sea weed.
The marine paperweights scenes are so realistic that people can spend ages exploring the miniature rock pools with their eyes and their imagination.
Peter described his feelings about his own work recently: "From the first time I saw glass blowing I knew I wanted to do it. I knew on some deeper level that I could do it . The past twenty years has been a process of unfolding that dream. My ideas are still of archetypal objects that reflect Art and Nature. For the whole of my working life I have been striving to realise them. Every time I see a new development or some progress in my work I get a feeling of joy and excitement and this keeps me going. It is like a person digging in the earth for a year and one day finding a precious gem."
Above: Peter Raos in his workshop.
Peter's workshop is at the back of his home, in the historic waterfront town of Devonport, New Zealand. After many years working in a studio with other glass artists Peter decided that he needed more time to focus on developing his ideas without the distraction of responding to the demands of a public studio. Working at home also gives him more time with his family, Pru his wife, Zoe his daughter and his son Max
Peter is probably best known internationally for his "Monet" series of bowls, vases, perfumes and paperweights, shown in this photograph below, although his "Lily" series, shown at the top of the page is better known in New Zealand. This picture shows the "Spring" Monet collection.
The background is green, and the tiny three dimensional flowers, set into the glass (technically known as millefiori, or "thousand flowers" in Italian) are in the typical colours of spring. There is also a summer Monet series, with more red and golden flowers. Peter trained in glass design and technology at Auckland University (Elam School of Fine Arts and Design) and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
He then combined with another glass artist, Peter Viesnik, and together they set up "The Hot Glass Company" with a studio in an old general store on the waterfront in historic Devonport. This became a popular venue for Aucklanders to watch the glass being made, and to buy pieces. In those very early days they collected glass from the tip and remade it into Mexican-style glasses and decorative pieces. Peter described it as "pretty horrible stuff, but it came in on the back of the brown pottery phase and found a market with people looking for local arts and craft."
In 1981 Peter organised and hosted a workshop in New Zealand by the American glass artist Dick Marquis. This sparked a series of visits to New Zealand by leading overseas glass artists, which had a profound effect on the development of glass art in this country.
In 1989 the lease ran out on the premises of the Hot Glass Company, and the building was listed for redevelopment. The studio was closed and Peter Raos enrolled for a masters degree in Fine Arts at the University. He graduated in 1991 with a Master of Fine Arts degree, in which the research component included casting techniques for glass. He sees the period before his masters degree as an apprenticeship "while the time since has seen a greater degree of specialisation and development of my ideas".
Above: Lily range of vase, bowl, paperweight, & perfume bottle. Calla lily design in three dimensions, blue background
The "Lily" range, shown above, requires very high levels of skill to ensure the accuracy of the arum lily flower, which is made first in glass and then rolled into the ball of molten glass on the end of a punty iron. There is also considerable skill required to ensure that the complex composition of different coloured glass, in a very thick vessel, cools without damage.
Peter makes all his glass himself, unlike many other glass studios where glass makers produce a range from the very best, made and signed by their top artists, to the relative beginners pieces, which may not even carry the studio name.
Peter says "I have total involvement in all the stages of designing and making of my glass. Melting the glass from the finest raw materials, I form each piece by hand and sign and date each work."
This has the result that each piece is a "little work of art" as Peter described them, produced with love and skill by a master at his craft.
Above: Peter Raos in his workshop holding a "gather" of molten glass for one of the Tropical Flower pieces.
Almost every year for the past few years, Peter has introduced something new. His Tropical Flowers series uses the skills required to make the "lily" series, in a new and exciting range of colours and a totally different flower. Although each piece is clearly part of a series, no two are the same, and every one is special in its own way.
Above: Tropical Flower range with red flowers and green leaves in three dimensions against a black background
Another addition to Peter's range is the Blossom series, shown below. Many of Peter's pieces are formed using tiny slices cut from canes of glass, which he has previously created from strands of coloured glass, a bit like sticks of candy or "rock" are sometimes made with the name of a town running right through from end to end. Each slice from the glass cane becomes a flower in the design, and the required pattern is laid out on a heated metal plate (see photograph) and picked up when the molten glass "gather" is rolled over them.
When the entire design is complete, more molten glass is added to totally encase the pieces.
Above: Blossom range with a speckled opal background and green branches covered in white spring blossoms.
Peter Raos is one of the artists featured in the author's book about New Zealand Glass. This book covers both extensive historical information and current glass artists in New Zealand, with some superb photographs and explanatory text.
|INFORMATION about New Zealand Glass !|
Including many original catalog pictures and dozens of photographs.
NOW available - this is the new second edition of this book and it covers the fascinating history of glass in New Zealand, the story of Crown Crystal Glass, NZ bottles and an overview of contemporary New Zealand glass artists.
Available as a paperback or as a Kindle book.
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