Artist? Scientist? Glass artist Sidney Hutter, of Auburndale, Massachusetts, considers himself to be both.
“I use science to make my art,” he said. “The pieces are sculpture, 3D and a continually changing sculpture depending on the viewer’s angle is what I wanted. One of the things people who collect my work say is that, depending on the angle, you can look right through the piece and not see any of the color or adhesive. Change the angle of view by 20 or 30 degrees, and you see something different. It depends on the angle perspective from where the viewer is standing.”
Hutter, who has been working with glass since 1974, blends art with the science related to glass properties, use of dyes and pigments, coatings and UV cure. As a graduate student, he was forced to change the way he approached glass art after a fire in the studio eliminated his ability to blow glass, so he began gluing glass pieces together.
“I started using UV-cured adhesives in the early ’80s and, prior to that, used anaerobic adhesive,” he explained. “The technology has continually evolved over the years.”
Hutter began curing adhesive under a fluorescent black light, but the low UV output resulted in a long cure time. In addition, it would only cure a single layer. He developed a pre- and post-cure system that allowed for the spot cure of multiple layers with a low-intensity UV lamp, then cleaning the piece and full curing with a higher intensity UV.
“I began researching LED use as the technology developed,” he continued. “The change in the last several years is amazing. There’s no heat, so it makes the working environment much more comfortable, and the bulbs last much longer. The disadvantage is that it is spectrum-specific, and I don’t have a spectrometer to figure out the cure.
“I’ve been a member of RadTech for over 20 years,” he continued, “but I’m only as technical as I need to be to get the work done. I have to have an understanding of the technology I’m using. Some industry professionals find it intriguing that I use the technology in that way. Now I’ve been at it so long that people ask me technical questions related to my art. It’s a critical part of what I do.
As technology developed in the early ’90s, more options for glass were available, along with the ability to color the adhesives. “Until that point,” Hutter wrote, “the only color in my work came from the limited colored commercial plate glass available, which I laminated with clear adhesive, or opaque antique architectural glass, which would not transmit light. The ability to add color into the adhesive between the layers of glass opened up many possibilities.
“This advancement led to new series of work. The interior of the pieces was becoming as compelling as the exterior, and I began cutting and polishing ‘windows’ into my vessels, allowing a look inside.”