It was love at first sight. Her eyes once fell on a few colourful and beautifully crafted hand blown objects of fragile beauty at one of her friend’s place and instantly fell in love with the translucent material. Her fascination was so deep that she didn’t give a second thought while plunging into the fragile world.
With her indomitable drive and determination, glass artist Reshmi Dey turned her utmost passion into a profession. Her glass-half-full approach towards life stood her in good stead and helped her break through the glass ceiling. Today, she is radiantly glittering in the glass world both as an artist and entrepreneur.
Reshmi defines glass as a delicate yet complex material that is waiting to be discovered and experimented more by glass artists to give myriad dimensions to this material. “Yes, I have a profound fascination for this lucent material. Glass, for me, is a medium of expression and not just a commercial and an industrial material. I can see an inner beauty hidden within,” she says.
Reshmi is a rare breed, who saw host of challenges that came her way in establishing herself as an artist and entrepreneur of glass —from working in a male dominated, labour intensive industry to sustaining in an odd environment brushing aside gender stereotypes — through rose-coloured glass.
“I had a mountain before me in every phase of my journey which I had embraced with an undying spirit. I had no financial support but was determined to carve a niche in the glass world. And moving out of my hometown Guwahati leaving the bubble of comfort to learn the nuances of glass art form in Delhi and finally establishing myself in the world of glass were never been easy,” says the immensely creative glass designer.
Born and raised in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia, Reshmi completed her graduation in economics from the prestigious Cotton College in 1994. Her journey began in the year 1999 during a visit to Firozabad, the hub of glassblowing activity and industry in the country, where she was exposed to the glass world in the by lanes of the City of Bangle.
She has never looked back since then. Aiming to take the craft up a notch, she studied on scholarship at International Glass Centre, Dudley Collage in the United Kingdom that helped her to fine tune the art of glassblowing. Later, to give wings to her passion, she visited several countries including Italy’s Murano — the world of exquisite handcrafted glass — and had an enriching opportunity to work with famous Czech glass artist Petr Novotny. She also got an opportunity to experience the Italian glass world with renowned craftsmen Pino Signoretto and Dino Rosin.
In 2004, she returned to India but kept her creativity rolling by working towards education, appreciation and awareness of glass art and craft in the country by associating with Central government’s Skill Development Programme and working with International Labour Organization as well as various government organizations as an external consultant.
Reshmi’s inner potential and insatiable creative appetite helped her go beyond in the discipline of glass artistry. On March 24, 2017 she launched India’s first comprehensive public access glass art studio—Glass Sutra. The studio, built over an area of 5000 sq. ft in Chattarpur area in New Delhi, provides a creative space to explore varied techniques of glass making to glass artists, glass art enthusiasts as well as artistes of other forms of art.
“It’s a space where artistry and innovation find expression through glass. All equipment and tools in Glass Sutra are of international standard which have been handpicked from across the globe,” says Reshmi.
The glass art studio deals with vibrant artworks comprising table decorative, wall art, hand-made glass installations, functional art, lighting installations, crafted jewelry to name a few.
On her plans to open glass studio in her home turf, the artist elaborates, “Assam is always close to my heart. If people of the state accept and appreciate the art of glass making then I will certainly plan to open a branch here in future. But, the studio in Delhi too has a special place for all the people from Assam who want to learn, explore and experience glass art. Over the past two years we have been conducting workshops for those interested in glass art. ”
The workshops are conducted under the supervision of experienced instructors. “Safety of the participants as well the workers are paramount in Glass Sutra. To make it a secure place for art lovers, we ensure that they adhere to our instructions like putting on cotton fabric, full-sleeves shirts, closed to shoes and safety eyewear,” says the Glass Sutra founder.
Her soft spot for the traditional textiles, motifs and colours of the Northeast is vividly evident in her collection titled ‘Ashtori’ that celebrates India’s textile heritage with Glass Sutra’s functional art collection. The collections — ‘North-East in the Light’ and ‘North-East by the Thread’—showcases the beauty as well as the vibrancy of the region.
Artsy Reshmi has been striking a precise balance with different characteristics of the material, such as reflection, transparency, fragility and strength, to create a piece of art using a spectrum of techniques in her artworks — hot glass-blowing, hot glass-casting, flame working, table blowing, fusing and slumping et al.
“I try to use mostly recycle glasses taking into consideration the aspect of waste reduction. Soda lime glass is the basic one that we use most of the times but for special techniques borosilicate glass is used.”
She has been constantly cultivating a creative climate within. Every project, from hand blown glass work to installation art for her esteemed clients including Luxury hotels and corporate houses, is an enriching experience for the artist with a creative bent of mind.
On being asked about a unique masterpiece that she desires to create with the lucent material, the lover of the glass art says: “Yes, a light collection based on poetry which is filled with words for peace, love and harmony.” A perfect mélange of creativity, skills and technical processes can produce great masterpieces or glass art, she observes.
Reshmi plans to bring glass art and craft education to Assam and Northeast in a bid to promote this special and challenging art form among the youth of the region. “I would like to position brand Glass Sutra globally and set up another studio in India.”
She wants to explore the myriad possibilities of glass, challenging the limits of glass making.
Let’s raise our glasses to this ‘glassy’ girl!