Glass series ‘Variations on an oval’



Royal Leerdam Crystal, Leerdam







Gert Bullée (glassblower);
Photos: Mathieu van Ek

Glass series ‘Variations on an oval’

Until 2004, Cees Dam had never made any glass objects. He had dreamt of it though – especially when he looked through his personal collection, in which the designs of Italian architect Carlo Scarpa featured prominently – but it simply had never happened. Therefore, when Siem van der Marel, head designer at Royal Leerdam, asked Cees Dam to participate in the 2004 Unica Relay, he did not have to think about the offer for long. In order to familiarise themselves with glass art, Van der Marel asked three artists from other disciplines to join him in designing a number of Unica’s and one of those would be produced as a Leerdam Serica. These four artists then asked four others to take the baton, and they in turn were followed by two more groups of occasional glassmakers. The resulting works by these 16 participants were exhibited in the Leerdam Glass Museum in December 2004. Among the collected works were the vases of Cees Dam, who took the place of jewellery designer Rodrigo Otazu.

Cees Dam believed it would be an interesting approach to design a main model for a vase, and then creating variations of it. He chose a 25 cm tall oval design with a small opening, and created various adornments to accompany it. When the drawings were completed, the most exciting moment arrived: would Gert Bullée, the master glassblower in Leerdam, be able to satisfy the expectations? Although Siem van der Marel had informed all artists to guard against placing impossible demands on the crystal, it remained a tense moment if the object would appear as the designer had envisioned. For Cees Dam, it was very special witness the hard work at the hot oven in Leerdam. It was a wonder to watch a master craftsman such as Bullée work and to discuss with him how best to arrive at the optimum results. Cees Dam found that the experience was so pleasurable that, as far as he was concerned, his first glass designs would not be his last. He was therefore more than delighted to accept an offer to exhibit together with Siem van der Marel at the Jan van der Togt Museum in Amstelveen in 2004. It was a brilliant occasion to design a new series.

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