While glassblowing was the first focus of studio glass artists, it was not long before other glassworking techniques were explored. Craftspeople and scientific glassblowers dominated the field of flameworking, or lampworking, during most of the 20th century. Like stained glass, flameworking carried a wealth of craft associations that artists needed to redefine. Ginny Ruffner (b. 1952), who was trained as a painter, was the first to exploit the potential of flameworking for making large-scale sculpture in glass. While small-scale flameworking was traditionally executed with soft, soda-lime glasses, Ruffner adapted her knowledge of harder, borosilicate glasses, commonly used in scientific glassmaking, to art. She challenged glassblowers with the size of her quixotic, upbeat sculptures that she sandblasted and covered in paint and pastels. Eat Your Hat is an excellent example of Ruffner’s early, abstract work, which, unlike her later work, is not overtly narrative or symbolic.


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