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How It’s Made: The Aurora Pendant

When you think of your favorite light fixture–the one that captures your attention and imagination with its style and luminescence every time you walk into the room–do you wonder what went into making it? You might be surprised to learn about the materials and techniques, not to mention the level of artistry, that factor into the process.

While known mostly as an American manufacturer of innovative, performance-driven LED lighting fixtures and systems, Bruck Lighting is equally committed to a fixture’s artistry. It’s something especially evident in their line of art glass pendant lighting. To show just what goes into the production of such a piece, we’re taking a step-by-step look at the creation of their popular Aurora Pendant Light.

Art as Light

Aurora is a transparent, twisted, apple-shaped glass pendant hand-blown by master American artisan, Kent Kahlen. Due to the nature of this piece, small variations in height, width and color are typical and are what give Aurora its exquisite character.

Imagine the Possibilities

The idea for Aurora was born out of the realization that heavy-walled glass, when manipulated, can bend the light that passes through it in some pretty amazing ways. This discovery was made during the glass blowing process. Many attempts at finding the right balance of thickness and shape were made before a finished product could be realized.

Molten Beginnings

Utilizing a team of up to three artisans and assistants, the pendant starts with clear glass gathered on a blowpipe. A small bubble of air is blown into it while, simultaneously, colored glass is heated up to a molten state on a punti (a metal rod that serves as a handle for an object while it’s being made).

The colored glass is dripped onto the clear glass bubble, and then the artisan manipulates that color and covers the entire bubble of clear glass. This is known as a color overlay–a time-consuming process not used by all glass factories, which allows for a wide range of color options.

Things Are Shaping Up

After taking multiple gathers (masses of molten glass collected on the end of a punti) of clear glass over the color, the blowing and shaping can begin. Once the desired shape is created on the blowpipe, it’s transferred onto another punti. This allows the gaffer to shape the top half, or open end, of the glass shade. To achieve this, one of the assistants takes a small gather on the end of a punti. Together with the main gaffer, they attach it to the bottom of the main piece of glass, and then tap it off the pipe onto the rod.

The vessel can now be heated and shaped accordingly. Great care needs to be taken at this point, as the vessel is now attached to the rod only by a very small connection. One wrong move and the glass can end up in pieces on the studio floor!

Turn Up the Heat

When the gaffer deems it ready to be finished, the assistant (donned in high temperature safety gloves and jacket) places the Aurora into a kiln where it will sit for many hours and be slowly cooled down overnight. This process is called annealing; without doing this, the glass would fracture from stress.

As you can see, creating the Aurora Pendant Light is no small feat, requiring a degree of artistry and experience that is unparalleled. Each one is made without the use of any molds, only with essential tools and the skill of the artisan’s hands. This is why it’s such a proud moment for the artisans when it all comes together…and for you when you bring the piece into your home.

The Aurora is, of course, just one glass pendant that Bruck makes. See other Bruck Lighting art glass pendants here.

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