Calypso Reef, Han-blown glass anchored , 2007
Created in 2007 by artist Jay Bavers of East Jordan Michigan’s Jordan Valley Glassworks, Calypso Reef is a masterpiece in contemporary glass chandelier design. Just one of the members of the Bavers family working at Jordan Valley, Jay has assumed a role as the company’s chief craftsman. Gaining his first exposure to the family tradition from his grandfather at the age of five, he now has more than forty years of experience in glassmaking. During his time at the University of Michigan, Jay studied under Santini and Birkhill as well as Shane Ferro and Paul Stankard. He also worked with Herb Babcock at The Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and Rhodi Rovner at the Corning Museum in Corning, NY.
A third generation glassworker, Jay’s designs range from functional pieces such as vases, bowls, lighting, and chandeliers, to fanciful items such as jewelry, sculptures, and wall decorations. In Calypso Reef, one of the artist’s primary focuses is on the play of color and the exquisite effects of light on the individual pieces of semi-translucent hand-blown glass. As its name suggests, the work is designed to recall the vibrant hues and liveliness of a coral reef. Habitation centers for a variety of species, coral reefs and anemone often appear to actively connect with their faster-moving counterparts – an interaction that Jay has conveyed in this work through the sporadic positioning of various fish species throughout the form. Referencing Calypso – a nymph in Greek mythology who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she “kept” Odysseus for several years – and the elaborately organic forms of French Rococo chandeliers from the 18th century, Calypso Reef is composed of 75 individual pieces of glass anchored into a steel sphere at the center, and is designed to be lit from the exterior to create an illusionistic and lifelike glow to the form.
While fine blown glassworks such as Calypso Reef are now produced in many areas of the world, the first evidence of glass blowing was found in Syria around the 1st Century B.C. However, it wasn't until the Venetians mastered the craft in the Middle Ages that glass began to draw a heightened level of attention. By the 1300s, the Island of Murano was the prime spot for highly skilled craftspeople and glass blowers, and Murano glass has remained esteemed to this day, as have works by the famous American artist Dale Chihuly. A huge stylistic inspiration and a personal mentor to Jay Bavers and his work, Chihuly has received acclaim for his massive, playful and eccentric sculptural pieces. With artists like Chihuly and Jay Bavers sparking a new interest in the craft, the popularity and demand for hand-blown glass in America has experienced a significant increase in recent decades.