Commendation seems to be too often intertwined with commercial success. There’s this undying pressure for more, to wear the crown of perfection and to achieve excellence. At Furnishing Internatinal we write a lot about designers and innovators achieving momentous things in the furniture industry, who deserve all acclaim given. Today we take a different path, focusing on the craftsman’s and artists in their own right, the backyard visionaries who are not often praised, but are perfectly okay with that. Today’s article focuses on a few funky coffee tables made by a 50-something year old concrete cutter over 20 years ago.
Words: Kalli Zerveas
My father falls into a different spectrum when it comes to your typical artist. A concrete cutter by trade, his days consist of demolition and carving materials. Finding it endlessly difficult to keep his hands still, Dad is often rebuilding old Ford GT’s and decking out his home pergola in an overwhelming amount of Red Gum. In the case of earlier artistic ventures, he’s always shared a particular interest in glass.
Arguably one of the most famous glass artists Dale Chihuly once said, “Glass has the ability, more than any other material, to bring joy and a certain happiness to people”. This comment only became truly apparent as Dad started talking about his infamous “Cracked Ice” tables. A representation of himself, wild and difficult to understand, but filled with a huge amount of heart and soul.
The idea for “Cracked Ice” eventuated about 20 years ago. My father cut and installed shower screens, mostly in residential areas. An undeniably dedicated and hard worker, he does often to put it simply, ‘stuff up’. Forgetting to strap a glass laminate panel properly in his van, the obvious transpired. Amongst the mess of shattered glass, he tells me that he saw a peacock extending its tail with unusual shards breaking apart and together at the same time. “Every piece of glass is individual… and I needed a coffee table too”, he says.
Beyond the unpredictable effect, Dad has assured me he’s the ‘glass cracking master’. The technique took approximately six months to perfect, ensuring only one-half of laminate shatters and the toughened glass underneath stayed intact. “All trial and error,” says Dad, who even tracked down a specific dye that would penetrate through the glass for an enhanced effect. “You can’t replicate the idea” Dad says, “That’s what makes it special”. As for the technique to it, are all in-house secrets.
The creation of the “Cracked Ice” coffee table is particularly impressive in its intensity and artistry, earning praise if even just from his daughter. Dad’s passion was turning something typically generic into something exciting just for himself and reminded me along the way that success is from within.