For something that ends up as fragile as glass, the process behind its making is quite physical. Artist and designer Andi Kovel picked up the practice while studying sculpture, and in collaboration with Justin Parker as Esque Studios, she spins, twists, twirls, and polishes the red-hot material for nearly every handmade creation. Their design process usually starts with a sketch, but the pair use their studio as an arena for improvisation. "The pieces that seem to work best long-term feel smooth and organic while we’re making them," says Kovel, who has worked alongside Parker for nearly two decades. Their latest experiments, plus a growing demand for custom projects, have led them to lighting design, and this year they’ve debuted a collaboration with fellow Portland makers Cedar & Moss as well as a line of their own. "Our goal," says Kovel, "is to lead the movement of trend by creating new notions in glass—attaching craft to function to fine art, and to break away from the notion of craft as kitsch."
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