Artist and designer Ann Wåhlström designed the vase collection Iris for Svenskt Tenn in 2009, after which additional colours and sizes have been released. The collection is sprung from a need for classic, timeless and functional vases for every occasion. It has resulted in four vases that are all ideal for flowers and bouquets in different shapes and sizes.
Ann Wåhlström has substantial experience working with glass and is now situated in Stockholm, where she combines artistic work in glass with freelance design. She has studied at Capellagården in Öland, Sweden, at the Glass School in Orrefors, at Pilchuck School outside of Seattle, at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and at Stockholm School of Art, Crafts and Design (Konstfack). Her aesthetic is often playful and imaginative, either with strong colours and decorative glass details, or with a faded colour palette and grey hues, something that is primarily seen in her more recent work.
Ann Wåhlström is inspired by different techniques and by the infinite possibilities of glass. She was handpicked to Kosta Boda in the mid-80s after spending time in the United States, where her artistry really began to flourish.
”In Sweden, there were certain rules for glass blowing. In the US, you started calling yourself an “artist” already in art school. Then you just did your thing. It was liberating to work there! As if you are improvising all of a sudden, after previously only playing the chords.”
Vase Iris is crafted using an old technique called “optic”. It involves a fairly comprehensive production process with several different moulds, and it took time for both the glassblower and the designer before the right softness in the pattern emerged.
”Imagine a lemon squeezer turned inside out. It’s with the help of such a thing that the lines in my hand blown vase Iris are made. The glassblower gathers glass on the pipe and sort of presses the mass into the “lemon squeezer” for a couple of seconds. That’s enough for the glass to “remember” the stripes.”
Production of the vases in the Iris series begins in the night, at the Reijmyre glassworks in Östergötland, Sweden. The glass melter increases the temperature in the melting furnaces to 1400°C and shovels in approximately 500 kg of glass, which is then melted under close supervision. Towards the morning, the temperature of the glass must be down to a workable temperature of 1100°C when the glass blowers begin their workday at 6am.
The first step of the manufacturing process is for the glassworker to capture glass on a glassblowing pipe. After that, the glassblower forms the glass using a wooden block and blows it up to fit into a groove mould. After the glass is blown up to a vase in a wood or graphite mould, it undergoes cooling, finishing and quality control before being signed with “Svenskt Tenn” and Ann Wåhlström’s initials.