The two master glassblowers that Sébastien learnt from both died years ago. There’s no one else that works with the same philosophy and traditional techniques.
Valentina is the co-founder of La Soufflerie, a glassblowing non-profit and cooperative that started in 2007 with a mission to preserve the art of hand blown glass. She and her husband, Sébastien, run the cooperative from their small art studio in Paris’ 15th arrondissement.
Glassblowing is not just knowing how to make a ball or a vase. It encompasses chemistry and physics. It’s knowing how to build, create and upkeep an oven and a studio with an art that is very delicate.
Using recycled glass and combining colours alone can take a lifetime to learn.
We use traditional tools and processes to create original, timeless designs from recycled glass. The ethical, artisanal collections are shipped to boutiques around the world. We invest in handmade ovens so that the craft can live on for new generations.
Please tell me about the very first time you took your glassware to sell to florists in Paris. How did the florists react to your ancient artisanal designs?
Sébastien blew four different vases and took his bike around the streets of Paris walking into the most beautiful boutiques he found. He just presented them as a functional and artisanal object. Florists are manual people and love touching things. They loved the feel of the vases.
The way to tell that a piece of glassware is 100% handmade is to run your fingertips across the bottom of the glass. Touch the bottom of any piece to feel the trace of the glassblower’s cane.
What inspired your beautiful Tête vases?
Sébastien is a mould maker so it’s natural that sculpture meets glassblowing. He has his own company, Moulage et Patine, creating beautiful pieces for museums, boutiques, hotels and private clients and teaching at Les Beaux-Arts de Paris. I went to NYU art school in New York City and also work with talented sculptors.
I discovered La Soufflerie when I received a carafe as a birthday gift. The glass swirls and bubbles, showing the unique quirks of the handmade glass.