“Essentially what I do is take electricity and turn it into light using glass as the medium,” explained Wayne Strattman at the beginning of his talk on April 16, 2016. Wayne was one of 10 multidisciplinary makers who presented the first WhatIMake event hosted by Miranda’s Hearth at Artisan’s Asylum and Aeronaut Brewery.
Wayne received a PhD by published papers from the University of Sunderland in the UK in 2008 for his many years of work researching, writing, advocating for, and making sculpture with neon and other advanced forms of lighted glass sculpture. His Boston based company; Strattman Design has also been a leader for decades in making custom sculpture, architectural installations and lighting.
“From our tiny little shop in the South End, we are the world’s supplier of Plasma Globes,” said Wayne. “Whether you go to Moscow or Singapore or Western Australia, if there’s a plasma globe in a science museum it came from our little tiny studio. We make the biggest in the world.”
In his talk, Wayne ran through the wide variety of items that he’s created in his shop over the years. He started out doing Neon Glass, creating everything from Picasso drawings to mathematical representations to protest signs out of neon tubing. His work varies in size and purpose, from fine art pieces to display tubes for Chevrolet in Germany to interactive plasma counter tops for bars. He even had “an artist [who] came to us and wanted to be immortalized in Plasma so we took his head and made a plasma piece.”
Perhaps his most famous work is called Luminglass. Star Trek fans will recognize it as the charging station behind the Borg Character. “I was working on creating a plasma TV and I came up with a process for making flat glass that lit up and was kinetic,” Wayne explained. “Luminglass is made out of window glass fused together in a kiln. Air is removed and gas is put in.”
“What’s the best-selling glass art of all-time?” Wayne asked the audience. Answer: Lava lamps. “People are intrinsically psychologically drawn to random motions. It’s bright and never repeats.
Later that day, Wayne did a hands on demonstration creating a molecular glass piece and silvering it at Artisan’s Asylum.