Carl Radke became fascinated by the medium of silver luster art glass as a student in 1970, and this began his journey of re-discovering the complex and sophisticated art form.
Luster glass is a very specialized glassblowing medium. Due to the silver content in the glass, it has always been one of the most costly forms of glass ever produced. In addition to the high cost, other factors prevent this medium from ever being mass-produced in a large factory environment. The raw glass can only be maintained in the oven for a short period of time before the color, quality, and texture of the glass batch begins to degenerate.
Not only the specific formulas and high raw material costs, but the experience and technique of maintaining this volatile form of glass in a usable state, has kept the blowing of silver luster art glass in the hands of a few skillful artisans. The glassblower must be chemist as well as craftsman to work successfully in this medium.
For Radke, the defining moment in his training occurred six weeks before his graduation from the Brooks Institute of Fine Art in Santa Barbara with a BFA in graphics and sculpture. A glass blowing class offered at the school set the stage for the rest of his life. Through trial and error, workshops and experience, Carl Radke learned how to achieve the colors and shapes of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts periods, and how to go beyond and create a completely unique body of work.
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