Tuesday April 28, 2015 | by Emily Ma-Luongo

Helsinki-based duo create comic strip from blown glass vases for Toronto comics festival

FILED UNDER: Exhibition, New Work, News

Sini Majuri and Ella Varvio, a Finnish duo, create comic art through glass art. Their project entitled "Tulintu" is an ongoing cartoon series where illustrations are presented not in panels on paper, but as drawings on a series of mouth-blown glass vesseles, fusing two separate practices into a hybrid platform for contemporary art. From May 4th through the 10th, their work will be presented at the Toronto Reference Library as part of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF). Blending traditional glassblowing with the inky, elaborate drawings of graphic novels, the pair is bringing a new twist to each art form with a linear story that unfolds across 15 glass vessels.

A comic narrative in a reflective, three-dimensional material, each "scene" is captured in a cylindrical vase. The grainy strokes of the "panel" drawing are developed by a meticulous layering process. One single glass "box" can take about a month to complete. Varvio and Majuri's idea is that one object is composed of two different layers, so the cartoon image is sandwiched in between. The results are 2-D figures frozen in a transparent structure. The pair's foremost comic is based on the Slavic folk tale the Firebird

One scene, seen through a fiery orange glaze, is a young maiden drawn with liquidy black strokes, her hair flowing sharply with distinct grit. Depicted in vignettes, the scenes bend and unravel around the cylinder’s form, giving the picture a strong sense of flowing lines and motion. Some scenes are chalky white in backdrop due to opaque glass, while others are glossy and clear. 

“I think glass is a magical medium to work with," Majuri stated in an interview during the 2014 Taos Art Glass Invitational, in explaining why glass was her chosen medium. "You can see inside of it, and when you are working with it you cannot touch it with your hands. You shape it with your breath and with tools. It is like a wild animal that you need to tame.” 

A video of their glass making process can be seen here


"Tulintu -- Comic Art In Glass"
Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)
Exhibition: May 4 - 10, 2015
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St.,
Toronto, Canada.
Tel: 416.533.9168

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.