Phillip Nolley | Southern Highland Craft Guild Skip to content

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My current body of work embraces a spirit of improvisational free play through the use of new glass color applications and carving techniques. These techniques produce active surface patterns that help generate a dynamic relationship between design and form. The random exposure of previously hidden color patterns created by the carving process also adds a layer of visual and tactile richness. My intention with this marriage of freeform design and random surface treatment is to reference artifactual objects through a contemporary style, creating connections that reach deep into our visual experiences for timeless human themes.


Shortly after his 1980 graduation with a degree in music focusing on Jazz, Phillip joined a Quintet, traveling and playing throughout Virginia. During this intense time of experimentation he needed supplemental work to support himself. In early ‘81
following the advice of a friend, Phillip went to the hot shop of acclaimed glass artist
Jon Kuhn; four hours later his artistic path had changed.

I had never seen hot glass nor any part of the process. I was mesmerized. Balancing the intricate rhythm and technical challenges of blowing glass was like an improvisation, But after a few brief moments there was a glowing object mirroring the passion and technical Intensity of the artist.

Phillip stayed in Kuhn’s studio for three more years, working at the furnace and learning about the many possibilities of cold working and surface treatments. In ’84 he took a glassblowing position at a production studio, continuing to refine his skills. In 1985 he moved on, building his first studio in down town Staunton, Virginia.

For the next ten years Phillip’s main focus was on refinement of technique and form.
In 1994 an accident while traveling forced him to stop blowing for three months. During this time he began experimenting with Pate de verre casting as well as painting, creating large gestural figures on canvas stretched across the floor. That period of experimentation planted the seeds that would grow into a new direction in his work. Still rooted in his love of classic technique and form, Phillip is reaching back to his love of improvisation and the exciting possibilities and beauty that random surface treatments can bring to blown and cast objects.

Improvisation is more important to my work than ever. Rarely is a piece completely conceived from the beginning. Rather, I start with form and let the rhythm of the work Flow to its natural Conclusion.

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