He’s covered a broad spectrum: restoring traditional stained glass windows and panels in century-old churches and executing commissioned works for private homes and business establishments. Meet Atul Bakshi, a former master mariner and since 14 years, a cast and blown glass master artist for whom the beauty of art lies is creating transluscent sculptures. “I guess I am a slave to glass,” smiles the Delhi-based artist.
Glassy resume, alright!
Atul has shown his work at Linkoping, Sweden, along with the world renowned Father of Casting Glass: Bertil Vallien. One of Atul’s creation has found a place in the museum permanently. He also did the Church of Agra’s high altar windows, works for the Lawrence School, Sanawar, Bishop Cotton and the Old Vicarage in Durham, England. And not all of it is delicate work. “I just finished working on a crystal staircase made of glass brick — you can drive over it,” laughs Atul.
How it’s done
Like everything else, cast and blown glass work starts with the thought process. “I have to sit and visualise.” There’s also a short time span where everything must fall into place. “You see, when the glass comes out of the furnace at 1200 degrees Celsius, it’s like hot lava and it must be sculpted soon. The glass then starts cooling very quickly and in that time nothing can be done.” The next stage is to anneal or cool the glass which takes about 4-5 days. “Unlike a canvas, one can’t sit in front and just work. It’s really about a flurry of hands, like your move is frozen in time,” he explains.
Are there many rejects? “Oh, lots! I’d say there are more disappointments in glass than anything else. But the thrill of success makes you want to do it again and again.”
Miles to go...
In India there are no formal courses for teaching hot glass work. “I hope that changes so more people can learn,” he says.