The Queue: Kiva Ford
Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
Kiva Ford strives for perfection in artistic and scientific glass.
Kiva Ford makes perfect little pitchers, measuring in at less than 2 inches in height; he also makes larger ornate globes with finely rendered ships, giraffes, bulldogs, lions, hens, and apples suspended within. His colorful glassware and goblets reflect stunning precision. He does this all in his spare time.
Educated at the Glass Education Center at Salem Community College in New Jersey, Ford works full-time as a scientific glassblower, collaborating closely with scientists to create the intricate custom instruments that enable their discoveries. Ford, who grew up on a farm working with his hands, rarely stops making. “Creating and building felt like a natural interaction with my environment,” he says. Ford wrote about his tiny pitchers in “What’s in a Vessel?” in the Spring 2023 issue of American Craft.
How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I am a lampworker who uses fire and tools to manipulate glass. Professionally, I am a trained scientific glassblower, and I enjoy using scientific lampworking techniques in my artistic works.
In addition to your artistic practice, you work as a scientific glassblower. How did you become interested in scientific glassblowing? What are your favorite scientific implements to make?
I became interested in science glassblowing after visiting Salem Community College as a teenager. Salem is one of the world’s top schools for scientific glassblowing. It is an honor to work with brilliant scientific researchers on groundbreaking custom glass designs. Some of my favorites involve glass for dark matter research, optical detector tubes, plasma research, and material sciences research. As a full-time scientific glassblower, the unique projects are really never-ending.
Tell us about some of your favorite artists working at a small scale.
I love the immaculate glass work of Vittorio Costantini. His lifelike renditions of insects and natural life are truly remarkable. (Learn more here.)
What processes do you find most exciting and engaging in your work?
Encapsulating glass objects inside of glass globes is particularly challenging and exciting. Building these sculptural pieces is like putting together a puzzle. Everything needs to be assembled in a specific order or the entire piece will break.
What’s one of your go-to / favorite tools in your tool kit?
My favorite tool is the Carlisle CC lampworking torch. This torch is a workhorse in the scientific glassblowing industry. Adjusting the knobs and valves feels akin to playing a musical instrument.
Which artists, craft exhibitions, or projects do you think the world should know about, and why?
For anyone who is interested in glass, I always recommend taking a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. This museum is a national treasure with some of the finest examples of glass from around the world. They also offer workshops for people who want to try making glass for themselves.
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