When I walk my dog before sunrise in San Diego’s Mission Bay, the sky along the Pacific coast sometimes displays spectacular bands of colors. When that happens, I take a picture and send it to the glass artist Ishida Tami because I think of her work.
“The beauty of what nature creates is unrivaled and there is no way to even imitate it. But I want my work to stir the imagination in people,” Tami explained about what motivates her. Tami creates blown glass with layers of powdered glass coatings that are cut and intensely polished on the surface, a unique technique that she developed while studying the works of ancient Sasanian glassmakers.
Combining colors is the most difficult aspect in creating her work and Tami readily admits that she often makes mistakes. “Glass can be opaque, translucent, transparent, and the sizes of glass powder and their melting speeds and manufacturers can vary,” Tami said in summarizing the complex process and infinite combinations that are possible.
For example, Tami used three different types of black glass in four different grain sizes in the latest batch of work that she made for Entoten. “Black goes well with vivid colors so I used black many times in this batch of work,” she said. “I’m happy that delicate expressions of layers can be achieved with them.”
Tami has recently been finding inspirations for colors and layers of glass in natural stones, like agates with patterns on the cut surface. And while researching agates, she stumbled upon “The Writing of Stones,” a book by the late French intellectual Roger Caillois. “I thought that maybe we were inspired in a similar way by these rocks,” she said about the book. “But the vast imagination that Caillois derived from the interior of these stones was astonishing.”
Tami chuckled that she thought she was skilled at fantasizing until she read Caillois’ book and was amazed that he was far better at it. “My thoughts as I create are evolving little by little, even if that isn’t apparent now. But I hope to create work that would reflect this progression in the future,” she said. The transformation is already visible in her current work that are distinctly her own.