We just wrapped the third collaboration, this time working with blown Glass, in Tonalá, Jalisco, with two artisans: Sam and Willy.
During our exploration of the town we stumbled upon a small museum that displays a bit of history of the town. The museum’s director referred us to Sam, and as soon as we stepped foot in his workshop we knew this was the place. Sam, along with his brother Willy, come from a family who have worked with this particular technique for generations. Their grandfather was part of one of the first workshops to set up in this area. Glass runs through their blood.
The history of glass is fascinating, dating all the way back to ancient Syria and Lebanon and the Roman Empire around 30 B.C. But blown glass came to Jalisco until early 1900’s. Tonalá was widely known for its production of glass but it’s now experiencing a decline, as the crafts created there are now usually massively produced by factories that operate with over 100 people, and also, by manufacturers in China.
Sam and Willy are one of the few glass workshops that work with a small team, and that was exactly what we were aiming for. This particular workshop has a very special vibe to it. It’s a very friendly space amidst concrete and crazy traffic. Many of the members of Sam and Willy’s team are young guys seeking to learn the trade. Working with blown glass is very dynamic and precise endeavor. Creating a single piece is the group effort of two or three people, synchronized in what almost seems as an elaborate choreography.
Tonalá comes from the Nahuatl word Tonallan which means “place where the sun rises”. This was the idea from where the Tonalan lamp took off. How could we create something that expressed how the sun rises from the horizon? Or even, how does the sun appears after an eclipse? The result is a contemporary and subtle piece, that plays with the reflection of light on the two pieces of glass. We decided to make this piece partly customizable too, pairing it with a Phillips Hue lightbulb that allows you to control the hue, tone, intensity and even timing of the light.