×

Self-taught Cuban glass blower turns recycled glass into art

By Thomson Reuters Jun 25, 2024 | 6:04 AM

By Anett Rios

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban Eduardo Viciana taught himself to blow glass using the most basic of tools and raw materials, one of a handful of artisans to master the art on the Caribbean island nation.

Viciana, 54, toils daily at his trade, heating his glass in three handmade brick ovens, then blowing them into exquisite and colorful forms for use as lamps, ceiling lights, sculptures and containers.

“There is no tradition of glass blowing in the country,” Viciana said. “Everything we do here is done self taught. We design our own equipment and the tools.”

Glass blowing is an art form that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe, a practice that dates back at least 2,000 years.

To create an object, pieces of glass are placed inside a handmade brick oven to melt. The artist then uses a blowpipe and tongs give the piece its shape.

In Cuba, even a corner hardware store is a rarity due to a grinding economic crisis that has led to widespread shortages. Viciana said he uses scraps of glass anywhere he can find them.

His recycled glass, transformed into art, is exhibited in the Spanish Embassy in Cuba, in the National Capitol building, in Havana’s Grand Theater and in the stained glass windows of local churches, Viciana said.

(Reporting by Anett Ríos, additional reporting by Mario Fuentes, Writing by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Bill Berkrot)