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Glass Cellos by Gary Word

Glass Cello-Making Journey

Gary Word began the journey to creating his beautiful, ice-like glass cellos fourteen years ago.

He first experimented with making glass violins and then wanted to make cellos.

Size Matters

Increasing the size of the instruments had its challenges. One of the main problems to overcome was the instrument’s weight – a high grade crystal glass cello weighs 34.7 lbs (15.74 kg)! In the videos below, note how, in addition to their endpins, the cellos rest on stands to help carry their weight.

Making a Glass Cello

In addition to using his own expertise in working with glass, Word learned from luthiers who make standard wooden instruments. Blending the two arts helped him create his glass cellos.

After building four prototypes, Word arrived at his final version. We have included three of these prototypes plus his current model in this exhibition.

Word makes full-size cellos out of 33 formed glass sections, and the entire process takes six months.

Watch Him Make a Cello and Hear it Played

This video shows the process Word uses to create each individual section of the glass cellos, and how he puts them together. Afterward, hear Philadelphia Orchestra cellist, Bob Cafaro, plays Bach on the cello when it was exhibited at the Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia:

Here’s a performance by cellist Jesse Ahmann, showing different sounds the glass cellos can make.

Contact Gary Word at WordArts

Want a Gary Word cello? Please contact him directly: wrod0982(at)gmail.com. To learn more about his cellos and his other glass art, please visit his website.

Gary Word

Gary Word: Glass Cello Fabrication. Photo courtesy Gary Word

Gary Word Biography

Born in Olympia, WA, Gary Word has received recognition in the United States and Canada for his works, which range from small-scale pieces in traditional media to large-scale residential and commercial interior and exterior projects.

A prolific artist from an early age, the artist began his own study of the European masters, the result of which was a series of works on canvas, such as landscapes, still life’s, and portraits. Soon thereafter, he developed an interested in various three-dimensional media, beginning with clay. The primary subject matter of his works during this phase was that of the human form.

These early accomplishments culminated in a successful solo exhibition at the Rovser Gallery in Kirkland, WA.

In the late 1990’s, he became intrigued with the malleable, luminous properties of glass. This led to the production of string instruments - electric guitars as well as members of the violin family - which beautifully combine his skill with the medium of glass, his background in engineering, which he studied at the college level, and his interests in classical music and American popular culture.

These instruments have been tested and certified my professional players and heard in concert throughout the region. Their production resulted in the Glass Odyssey Series. Two related series are Book of Quotes,” fused-glass sculptures, each featuring a portrait of an accomplished composer alongside a notable quote by him or her, and Fractured, a portraits of instrumentalists.

His long-standing interest in cinematography has resulted in his role in 2007 of Producer of a film on artists working in hot glass, the documentary “Day in the Life of the Artist” (2010), and the Producer/Director of the documentary “Iron Horse: Legend on Rails,” (2013), which traces the return of steam locomotives, including the restoration of passenger coaches and new uses of rights-of-way on the rails.

His longstanding curiosity with the natural world, combined with his engineering talents, resulted in the commission over early three decades of many medium- to large-scale works, many of which involve dynamic water features. Since 2000, these commissions have centered on custom glass art.

In 2001, he opened his home studio, WordArts Studio, where his focus has been on the production of commissioned art glass projects for both commercial and private clients and collectors. He maintains and active teaching practice through his studio.

Accolades include being honored for several consecutive years as a featured artist at the auction gala at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, two successful exhibitions involving performances on his glass instruments at Frederick and Holmes and Company Gallery in Seattle, and a feature article in the Arts and Leisure section to The Daily of the University of Washington.

He realizes the benefits of art in terms of building community: he has served as a Volunteer Instructor with Students at Risk in Seattle; since 1990, he has donated to or participated in art auctions in King and Pierce Counties; and he has served as a Guest Lecturer at U.C.L.A. and Highline Community College, Des Moines, WA.

He was educated at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, WA, and the Pratt Fine Arts School and the University of Washington in Seattle. He had the unique opportunity too study privately with Guy Andersen from 1994-96.

Artist Statement: Gary Word

In my work, I strive to maintain a balance between rigor and creativity, all the while taking any necessary risks. I also strive to maintain a balance between emotional and intellectual values.

My work naturally grows out of the subject matter of each of my series, from which I then choose the medium or media for the next series. While I may use a variety of materials and processes in each of my series, my methodology is consistent as these series are linked by recurring formal concerns and subject matter.

Throughout my career, I have combined my longstanding curiosity with the natural world with my interest in engineering, the result of which has been the commission of many medium- to large-scale works in commercial and public settings and on private estates. My larger installations use both constructed from specified raw materials and ready-made, prefab materials.

Accolades include a solo exhibition at the Rovser Gallery in Kirkland, WA, being honored for several consecutive years as a featured artist at the auction gala at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, two successful exhibitions involving performances on his glass instruments at Frederick and Holmes and Company Gallery in Seattle, and a feature article in the Arts and Leisure section to The Daily of the University of Washington.

I gain particular inspiration from these words of Alexander Calder:

"Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave."

Contact Information

For more information about his life and work, please visit his website or contact him via email:  word0982(at)gmail.com.



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