Interview with Michael Bokrosh - Glass Artists
--by Dick Weiss for the Japanese magazine "Glass", 1990
Mike Bokrosh is talking to me in cluttered, machine-heavy studio in south
Seattle. Next to me an old wood stove is burning pine, and waves of heat feel
good to me; it is late October, and Seattle is cold, wet, and damp.
He is saying, "Up until six years ago, I could only see myself as a 'glass
technician'. It was through self-discovery to integrate myself that I started
to become more creative."
All around me in the cavernous space are small bundles
of glowing clear masses - they stand out even more for being so, so pristine
while resting on dusty shelves of unpainted wood. The contrast between the
studio and the work he makes is astonishing. The work itself seems so, so
Yet, Michael tells me the finished pieces aren't always that precise.
Indeed, there is a large element of caprice inherent in the cold-working process.
"Everyone always sees the spontaneity that is part of hot glass. Yet 'going
with the flow' is an important part of my art. The breakage, the chipping,
the checking - even though cold-working is such a tedious process, some aspects
happen very fast!"
We turn to one specific piece: "Prementura".
Prementura is a beach in Yugoslavia, he tells me, "one of the first beaches
I've ever swam in.
The water was crystal clear, it's a part of the Adriatic
Sea." In 1979, Mike studied with a traditional master beveler in Yugoslavia.
The techniques were antiquated, the equipment backwards. "But", Michael went
on, "more importantly, I learned from him the 'zen' of beveling and engraving.
I learned the proper attitude, the patience and the respect. It was very important,
what I learned from that Master engraver."
Patience, indeed! Mike tells me he has, conservatively speaking, 80 hours
of work in "Prementura". That is on an object that ends up 12 inches long,
6 inches high, and 6 inches wide.
What meaning does a piece like "Prementura" hold for Michael? He replies
immediately, "Contrasts. Contrasts between rough and smooth, mirror and clear,
planed and unplanned. For instance, I rubbed gold-leaf over partitions of
the exterior that were rough - the contrast between the thin richness of the
gold over the roughness of the surface, it speaks to me of harmonies and conflicts."
He then returns to the theme of the spontaneous in his work. Prementura
uses a water jet to carve away the interior of the lead crystal. The water
jet process is hi-tec yet imprecise. A thick mixture of water and sand comes
out of a nozzle at Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound). It carves deeply,
and is not very controllable. For Michael, it balances well with the thick
pieces. Yet counterpoints the tediousness of exterior work with the abandon
of the water-jet cut process. The polished outside contrasts with the matte-finished
He finishes by telling me he works from the inside out. "Basically, I
reveal the inside form by working to the outside. For me, the inside and the
outside are both equally important." I ask him why he named a piece in 1990
after a beach he visited in 1979? "I am honoring a time in my life, and a
gift, that I received from my mentor. I am honoring that time inside myself."