Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1959, Bandhu began to teach himself lampwork techniques in 1975, while still in high school. As an undergraduate at Princeton, he received informal training from the University's glassblower before completing his apprenticeship under American and European masters at Urban Glass, the Pilchuck Glass School and the Penland School of Crafts. Bandhu is currently an independent glass artist and glassblowing instructor. He is the author of Contemporary Lampworking: A Practical Guide to Shaping Glass in the Flame and Formed of Fire: Selections in Contemporary Lampworked Glass and Creative Life: Spirit, Power and Relationship in the Practice of Art.
Bandhu Dunham draws his inspiration from nature--the invisible as well as what can be seen with the naked eye. His design sense resonates with the infinite variety of natural forms which he interprets using the remarkable properties of glass. A uniquely witty yet balanced approach is the hallmark of his work.
The artistic process begins with glass rods and tubes, which arrive from the factory in four-foot lengths. Using traditional techniques and a variety of simple tools like tweezers and scissors, the glass is shaped and blown in the heat of a gas-oxygen flame. Bandhu is also known for developing some unusual techniques that are unique to his work, stretching the envelope of what is possible in glass.
I always wanted to be a mad scientist or an alchemist. By fifteen, I had an extensive chemistry lab in my parents’ basement. Since the beakers at the hobby store were never cool-looking enough, I taught myself the basics of lampwork glassblowing. Later, I dropped out of Chemical Engineering at Princeton to become an artist.
Whimsy and elegance are the yin and yang of the functional work; the goblets display a childlike delight, or playful combinations of forms. Many of the sculptural pieces seem to carry scars, implying growth over time or an unspoken history. The patterns of Nature and Nature’s effects on man-made structure fascinate me. I express my experience of the natural world by incorporating odd juxtapositions and bending forms to follow my own quirky sensibility.
I find glass the perfect medium for this kind of work: its fluidity, malleability and paradoxical nature bring out the mysterious parts of myself that I seek to explore and express though art. I enjoy and have pursued lampworking since 1975 because of its immediacy and practicality. The beauty, transparency and fragility of glass are especially well suited for exploring the themes that interest me.
Fanciful steam engines and other kinetic sculptures represent a full turn of the circle, back to the colorful, elemental mysteries that captivated my childhood self. He’s still in there, and he wants you to come play, too.