It was difficult to pick a favourite piece in the Lava Glass sculpture garden in Taupo. I really liked the glass waterfall made with a series of shell platters that trickled water gently down a rock slope to the pond below.
And who wouldn’t want a bouquet of these giant glass flowers in their garden?
Even more unusual are the glass forests in giant paper weights. Some of the trees looked to me like petrified silver beet leaves, and the flowers looked like candy. They’re not ofcourse, leaves and lollies would be decimated with the kind of heat involved in glass sculpture. The paper weights are 8kg of solid glass and took two months to cool down!
At the Lava Glass studio you can watch the glass blowing process – we saw molten glass shaped and blown to form a vase.
The high temperature needed to work with glass comes at quite a cost – the gas bill alone can be $5000 a month. Gas powers one of the furnaces that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at a temperature of 1060 degrees celsius. It explains in part why glass art is so expensive.
A glass piece is around 500 degrees celsius when it’s finised being worked, it then goes into an electric powered annealer to slowly cool down, a process that prevents cracking. Generally a piece will come out the next day to be polished.
You can walk through the sculpture garden and watch a glass artist at work for $10pp, good value I think. It’s worth noting that the glass artist/s are working to a production schedule so they won’t always have the time to answer questions, there’s a handy FAQ sheet though for those interested in the nitty gritty.
The Lava Glass complex also has a cafe with an outdoor area, and a gallery full of glass art for sale. In summer the sculpture garden doubles as a concert venue, it’s possibly the only place in the world where you’ll be entertained among giant flowers and glass forests.