A conversation with the glass artist Pia Hoff
Glass artist Pia Hoff plays with unusual color combinations and shapes, yet creates timeless everyday objects. Her objects bear names like Confetti or Flamingo and leave the viewer with a happy feeling. Vases, jugs, drinking glasses or bowls get an unmistakable touch through Hoff's craftsmanship, which makes every object a potential favorite.
We have talked with Pia. Simply because we think her art is pretty great.
Glassmaking sounds like an enchanted profession from another time - when and where did you discover that working with this material fascinates you?
Pia Hoff: In fact, I think the word "enchanted" is very fitting - in my case, I really became captivated by the material in the USA. In 2013, I went to the Midwest, to Muncie, Indiana, for a year to study art.
Originally not my first choice, Ball State University was the only one with a hot glass workshop - looking back, it was a twist of fate that completely turned my life around.
In 2016, I completed my teacher training at the TU Dortmund in the subjects of English and art, deliberately decided against the traineeship to begin the same year the craft training as a glassmaker - so far possibly the best decision of my life, because I was never before been that fulfilled by an activity to such an extent.
Your styles are partly feminine and playful, partly minimalistic - if you had to choose one: Which style direction would it be?
The decision is definitely not easy for me! The varied opposites of minimalism and playfulness are already very appealing to me in my form and color schemes - my heart definitely beats for both styles. However, if I actually had to choose, I would prefer minimalist designs.
Where do you manufacture your glass art?
To be able to produce my glass art, I have to be extremely flexible.
After I completed my training as a "state-certified glassmaker" in 2019, I set off on a "journey": For two years, I wanted to continue my professional training in renowned glass studios around the world in my craft, which is threatened with extinction - until March 2020, when the pandemic threw a spanner in the works.
Seit gut einem Jahr bin ich nun selbstständig als Glaskünstlerin tätig - und da ich (noch!) keine eigene Heißglaswerkstatt habe (leider ist das Glasmachen nicht nur einer der schönsten, sondern auch einer der teuersten Handwerksberufe), miete ich mich in verschiedenen Glasstudios ein, so z.B. im Katalanischen VimboFor a good year now, I have been working independently as a glass artist - and since I do not (yet!) have my own hot glass workshop (unfortunately, glassmaking is not only one of the most beautiful crafts, but also one of the most expensive), I rent spaces in various glass studios, for example in Vimbodí, Catalonia, where I worked for about 10 months with my then partner on my own designs and their production. But also in the Harz Mountains or in the Bavarian Forest, I am currently regularly renting glass studios to pursue my passion. However, my big dream is to set up my own small workshop with a glass furnace in the near future!
What is your favourite animal?
An earthworm. *
*not quite true, but I was already a lousy animal-drawer during my art studies. Besides earthworms I like dogs very much :) especially Vizslas, which I grew up with
How does creative work make you feel?
During my art studies I worked creatively in many different areas: I painted, printed, photographed, sewed, worked with wood, welded metal, and created plaster molds.
Perhaps the question is rather what feeling creative work with glass in particular gives me. Because compared to all other materials, working with hot, molten glass gave me a satisfaction and fulfillment I've never felt before. The reason behind this, I believe, is due to the characteristic properties of the material itself: It is extremely hot and liquid. At almost 1200 degrees Celcius, I take the flowing material out of the glass melting furnace and shape it in a highly physical act of creation. Depending on the product, this takes about 1 to 2 hours - a time window in which my entire focus, my entire concentration, is on the manufacturing process. The properties of the material make it impossible to "step away" for a moment. For me, this incomparable immediacy in the creative process has an almost meditative effect: one is completely in the moment. Not infrequently, only a few seconds are decisive for the shaping - speed, precision and intuition are of great importance. I often get into a flow-like state when blowing glass, which I always enjoy very much, as I am generally a rather headstrong, thoughtful person. However, when I'm making glass, I'm always 100% just with it - and that's always a super satisfying feeling.
Do you have a favorite product?
Again, the decision is not easy, because my heart beats - as you have now discovered - for these two different styles. The favorite product in my online store are the "Confetti" vase objects - and even if I have made these the most in the past year due to the high demand, I still do not get tired of them! Also at my home they are in the most diverse variants - because in my opinion they are beautiful, timeless and simple despite their feminine and playful nature due to their design. And even in the manufacturing process, the different color combinations often surprise me all over again.
Nevertheless, I am very much looking forward to working on new, exciting projects, such as lighting objects and candle holders, which can then hopefully move into my store very soon.