Glass art is an age-old creative form. While we are accustomed to seeing it take the shape of elegant vases and chandeliers, it is rarely used to convey movement. The art of Carol Milne, however, is an exception. Based in Seattle, she works on a series of glass sculptures that depict hands knitting themselves in a celebration of nurturing oneself and the act of creating.
Each of these vibrantly-colored works features a pair of human hands clutched around two knitting needles. Surrounding them are layers of textured material that connect the palms to the craft they are making. “My series of works involving ‘hands knitting themselves' were initially inspired by the M.C. Escher drawing of two hands drawing each other,” Milne explains to My Modern Met. “The series began as a joke, poking fun at the absurdity of knitting oneself. But the second piece in the series evolved from a place of self-nurturing. It was created in a year of losing several key mentors in my life. I began (and continue) to see these pieces as a meditation on what it means to become your own mentor—to pull yourself up, or knit yourself together, and carry on.”
Amazingly, Milne manages to render not only the hands with detailed realism but also the knitted material. To produce these pieces, she casts the sculpture in glass using the lost wax casting technique. A refractory mold is built around the wax and the wax is melted out of the mold. Then, the mold is transferred to a kiln and the glass is melted into the space where the wax was, after which, the mold is destroyed to reveal the final glass product.
“The work serves as a metaphor for social structure,” Milne continues. “Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together. You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart. And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together. The connections are what bring strength and integrity to the whole and what keep it intact.”
Milne finds that the beauty and vulnerability of glass can also be applied to people and the threat of climate change as well. “Like glass, we are simultaneously strong and fragile,” she says. “Our lives depend upon balancing our needs with those of our planet. Like glass threads that are easily shattered, individually we are almost powerless, but by working together, we have great strength.”
You can see Milne's sculptures in person at the Culture Object in New York City, Kittrell Riffkind Gallery in Dallas, and Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville. Follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with her latest projects and upcoming exhibitions.
Seattle-based Carol Milne celebrates the act of creation in her glass art.
She depicts human hands in the process of knitting, all in colorful glass.
This unconventional idea expertly conveys movement in a static medium.