Page C1.2 . 06 June 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Papadopoulos Glass

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Destructive Construction

Despite the unusual appearance of his art panels, Papadopoulos begins his design process the same way many artists and designers do, with sketches on paper. He and his studio coworkers follow these "plans" as they proceed through their unusual process.

Then a liquid resin is poured onto the glass panel, which is then relaminated with another sheet of tempered of glass to create the panel. After drying, the panel need no longer be treated with "kid gloves." The excess resin is cleaned off, and the panel is ready for installation. These panels are very strong, meeting building-code criteria for public use.

These art panels have found homes in a dance studio in San Francisco, in a London restaurant, in a furniture store in Birmingham, UK, in the British Airways art collection at London's Heathrow Airport, and in several private residences around the world.

First, the patterns are sketched onto the glass panels. In some cases, sandblasting is applied to part or all of a panel. The sheet is then laid flat and tapped with a hammer along the pencil lines. A diluted pigment is hand-brushed onto the glass and spread into the cracks.

In 2006, Papadopoulos's work for the dance studio drew rave reviews from the design press. According to the London Observer, the piece, named "Barrida," was "striking... a crystalline representation of movement with fragmented views of the real thing."

Creative Discovery

In his 2004 book Lamination, Papadopoulos explains how he came to the idea of designing with cracked glass. He already had a degree in interior design from Middlesex University and was pursuing a graduate degree in ceramics and glass at the Royal College of Art in London.

He would deliberately break the rules about cooling molten glass because he was interested in the effect of "craquelure," the resulting patterns of fine cracks. One day he accidentally dropped a sheet of glass on the studio floor and was surprised and delighted to see that it had broken but not shattered to pieces.

The London company Fusion Glass Designs Ltd. was already using breakage to make a decorative product, Shattered Laminate. In this process, Papadopoulos writes, "a sheet of toughened glass was laminated between two sheets of float glass using a polyester-based resin. When a corner of the toughened sheet was tapped with the point of a hammer, the sheet shattered but, being in a resin sandwich, held together." This inspired his experiments of breaking laminated glass and relaminating it between layers of float glass and resin.

In the years since then, he has treated his artwork with crayons, pastels, gold leaf, pencils, car enamels, oils, commercial spray paints, and "just about anything else that has come to hand in my studio including, frequently though accidentally drops of my own blood."

Papadopoulos points out that the history of glass lamination is full of accidents: in 1903 French scientist Edouard Benedictus dropping a glass flask, which failed to break because it had contained a liquid plastic and American car-maker Henry Ford skidding on a dark road. Like Benedictus and Ford, Papadopoulos has seized opportunity and inspiration from accidental discovery and developed it into something more.   >>>

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"Owd VII," by glass artist Yorgos Papadopoulos, decorates the pool of a private residence in London.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Owd VII" detail.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Moriai," exhibited in the Hub Gallery, Sleaford, UK.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Moriai" detail.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Rock Slice," in Berkeley Square House, London.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Lava," in Renka Furniture Store, Birmingham, UK.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Blue Crack," BA Terraces Lounge T4, Heathrow Airport, London.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

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"Willow," in a private residence, Hertfordshire, UK.
Photo: Yorgos Studio

 

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