Granite Calimpong had his hands in clay – until the hot shop called his name.more
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If a wall clock by Solos Glass strikes you as oddly familiar, that’s because in a past life it may have been your grandma’s ashtray. “Someone will say, ‘Oh, my mom had one of those when I was a kid,’” says Nanda Soderberg, co-owner with his wife, Rebecca Saunders, of the Richmond, Virginia-based studio. These unique pieces are made from vintage pressed-glass wares that the two hunt down at thrift shops and online, then heat and spin out flat. The process turns candy dishes and punch bowls into witty objects in a delightful variety of shapes, textures and colors—lime, cobalt, amber, pink, ruby. “It’s pretty cool, how it transforms them,” says Soderberg, adding that customers appreciate their function. “People like to have a use for things.”
Soderberg, 37, began blowing glass as a student at the University of Hawaii and honed his skills at hot shops in Seattle and Southern California before earning his m.f.a. at Virginia Commonwealth University, where lately he’s been an adjunct instructor in glass. Saunders, 33, studied glass at the Rhode Island School of Design and sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute, and teaches art in local public schools. Married by an Elvis impersonator two years ago at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, the couple blend retro charm with a sophisticated design sensibility in their home decor items, which have been featured at venues ranging from Barneys New York to the “Searchlight” talent showcase at the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore; this fall, they’ll be at the Craft + Design Show at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond (November 21–22). Including elegant blown vessels, such as Double Bubble Set and whimsical small sculptures, such as Purple Cane and Murrine Set, as well as the clocks, their line is diverse, yet all Solos products share a distinctive modern aesthetic.
A kitschy ceramic bust of a turbaned man inspired the couple’s recent series of mold-blown Head Vases. Now they’re eyeing other unlikely objects as molds—a hunk of gutter pipe, the cowboy boot of a neighbor’s kid. “It’s opened us up to being more playful.”