Toru SATO

Phantasmal Core-Formed Glass

September 23, 2010 - October 23, 2010



Core-forming is one of the most ancient methods of producing glass containers, the technique dating back to the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, where it was used to produce bottles to contain scented oils or perfumes. It later spread around the Mediterranean to Iran and West Asia, as far as the Black Sea, but died out in the mid-first century B.C. due to the invention of glass blowing.
The core consists of heat-resistant clay that is attached to a metal rod and formed into the desired shape, before having heated glass is wrapped around it. After the glass has been allowed to cool slowly, the core is scraped out and the interior polished to create the finished product. This legendary technique requires great patience to carry out and very few people practice it today.

SATO Toru was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, in 1960 and after graduating from Yokohama City University’s Faculty of Literature and Science he entered the Tokyo Glass Art Institute where he mastered the technique of core-formed glass through a process of trial and error. In his work, he combines various colored glass rods to create the particular tone he requires, using this to produce various types of patterned glass or components that are then fused into the work to produce the designs. Unlike blown glass, in which lines and patterns are extremely difficult to apply, the use of a core allows him to freely explore various decorative possibilities. For instance, he produces rods of lace-like glass that weaves into basketwork patterns or creates delicate lines that resemble brushstrokes. In the past, the decoration of core-formed glass generally consisted of mosaic patterns, similar to those of glass beads, the glass was thick, and the work had a masculine appeal, but SATO has pioneered a totally new form of expression, creating a delicate, fragile, feminine genre of core-formed glass.

SATO Toru’s glass is filled with elements derived from traditional Japanese crafts. As he readily admits, his designs are inspired by Noh drama costumes, kimonos, or lacquerware, the shapes, colors and patterns evocative of the Silk Road. His designs spring from careful observation of nature, small objects so delicately and beautifully crafted that they seem to contain entire cosmoses within them; SATO Toru’s core-formed glass represents an ancient technique, dating back to the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, that has been sublimated into Japanese art-craft.

Light passes through the thin, semitransparent, matte glass to produce a gentle glow. With a frosty texture imbuing it with a sweet appearance, like candy, the delicate, yet complicated patterns appear to float upon top of the thin surface with kaleidoscopic mystery and fragrance. Thirty of these translucent fantasies, perfume bottles and lidded containers that SATO has created, will be displayed at Ippodo Gallery New York. Of particular interest is the way that the Ippodo Gallery has combined these works in tea ceremony utensil sets for use as tea-confection containers.