LuChi Glass Studio was started in 2007, after Lu Chi returned to Shanghai from the U.S. She had the first personal glass art studio in Mainland China. The studio was nominated as the Master Studio Project of the Shanghai Government in 2015, and was the first Master Glass Studio in Shanghai.
The studio now encompasses 240 square meters of floor space, on two floors. It has all equipment needed for large-scale kiln-casting, and also space for more delicate cold work. A lamp working room will be ready soon.
Lu Chi’s glass technique is a long process that combines lost-wax-kiln-casting with multiple cold-work processes. Her love of glass and of the various processes she employs, has carried her through 17 years of traveling through new territory. Her work has become more than just processing glass; she draws out the hidden dimensions in the glass. Lu Chi’s more contemplative approach to the work leads the viewer to a more calm and thoughtful place in this too-busy world.
Lu Chi has developed the techniques and tools that are unique to her work. In Lu Chi’s work, the glass is the medium; the creation process gives them meaning. As Lu Chi keeps working on new techniques and exploring the world of glass, the possibilities are endless.
I like encountering the unexpected surprises that challenge my thinking and physical strength at the studio, ultimately surprising myself. I prefer to work alone. The solitude allows me to distill my thoughts and plan, and enjoy the time I spend with my glass.
The studio has two floors- downstairs is the workshop- upstairs is the showroom and creation room. The artist designed the whole studio and enjoys doing everything by herself, including making her own window glass for the doors, and tend to the plants in front of the studio gate.
The whole creation process is sparked by the idea of the artist and starts in this room. Lu Chi’s sculptures all begin with sketches, and she always write down a sentence or poem at the same time. After that, she will tranfer the freedom and spontaneity of the sketch to a clay model, using the shape, volume and linear quality to express energy and emotion. Once the clay mold is done, it will be move to the Mold Section downstairs for the next step.
This is the entrance of the workshop. Each work will be on display here for a while until Lu Chi make sure it finished. She like to study the completed piece and see if there is something new in it- either in the work or a new realization in herself; A dialogue in between the artist and her work. Generally, a sculpture will be taken back to the workshop several times for refinement, before move to the showroom upstairs.
Mold-making is important for lost-wax, kiln-cast glass. Normally, each work needs successive molds of clay, rubber, wax and fire plaster. Lu Chi’s work, which is full of delicate lines, negative spaces and complex texture, is a huge challenge for the mold-making process. But Lu Chi is inspired by these technical limitations of mold-making to push the limits of the medium and her ability.
Most of Lu Chi’s glass sculptures are made using the lost-wax casting technique. The wax section is a very important part of her studio. She makes the wax mold and lost wax from the fired plaster mold at this area. Sometimes, she mixes different types of wax for her sculptures, depending on the form and size. She’ll spend days to work on the details on the wax mold. Some of them will be remodeled to get a new shape. Wax molding is the second sculpting process she uses.
The kiln room houses two large kilns, in which Lu Chi can cast large-scale glass sculptures. The maximum size of the whole sculpture can reach 2 meters in the studio. The firing schedule depends on the size and shape of the work. Normally, a work piece over 1 meter needs to stay in the kiln for more than 2-3 weeks.
Firing is the culmination of some of the best and some of the worst times of the whole kiln-casting process. It combines the mastery of skills with unanticipated magic. After few weeks firing, the moment of opening the kiln door is always tense- the results can be unpredictably disappointing as well as surprising.
Cold work means after glass be warm-formed in the kiln, the rest work is carried out when the glass is cold. Because Lu Chi’s work is full of negative spaces, she always de-mold her glass from the fired plaster mold very cautiously, like an archaeologist digging out a fossil from the earth. After the cast piece is out of the kiln, she then work on the machines and tables. Lu Chi has developed techniques and tools that are unique to her work. She cut, carve, sandblast, engrave, grind, and polish it. This is a very complex, extended process full of dust, noise, and danger. It is the third sculpting process for the whole process.
The engraving table is the place to deal with those delicate details that can’t be finished in the Cold-Work Room. Every detail in Lu Chi’s work is symbolic. Many of them only can finished by hand. As a perfectionist, she will work for months on a piece because she believe that, “God is in the details”.
The showroom is the brightest place in Lu Chi’s studio. Glass, with its responsiveness to light, is inherently beautiful. Under the spotlights, the qualities of glass are brought out. After a long and complicated process, each unique piece finally gets the light necessary to bring out it’s inherent beauty. Its transparent fluidity simultaneously captures and transforms that light beautifully, as a star, shining.
In the Glass Lounge, you can better see Lu Chi’s wonderful glass sculptures and delicate jewelry. Hold your breath; listen to the glass. Take a breath; the glass is listening. Traveling through the light and shadow of glass, here you can meet and talk with Lu Chi about her work.
A little kitchen, a comfortable sofa, this is the best recharging place for the inspired, but tired, artist. A cup of espresso with a piece of chocolate in the afternoon, renews Lu Chi.