MingarWalker Glassblåseri: Personal Variations on the Ancient Craft of Glassblowing

MingarWalker Glassblåseri: Personal Variations on the Ancient Craft of Glassblowing

MingarWalker Glassblåseri

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MingarWalker Glassblåseri: Personal Variations on the Ancient Craft of Glassblowing

Since 1999, Line Mingar and Benjamin Walker have been designing and crafting glass products together. We spoke to them about the journey of MingarWalker, their creative process, and the “magical material” that is glass.

“It’s impossible not to be enthused by the craft of glassblowing,” says Benjamin Walker, one half of MingarWalker Glassblåseri, alongside his partner, Line Mingar.

“When you work with it, glass is soft and malleable—but time is short. All thinking must be done in advance. Because once the molten mass is taken out of the oven, your hands must know exactly what to do and when.

“Glass is a magical material, and glassblowing is truly mindfulness in action.”

Benjamin and Line met “at the furnace” back in 1999 and for over 25 years they’ve been working together in this mindful art. In 2006, they set up a studio in Jæren, southern Norway, and they’ve been building MingarWalker Glassblåseri as a brand ever since.

“We see it as a strength for MingarWalker that there are two different glassblowers designing our products, as it gives us a broad expression. At the same time, we’re constantly influenced by each other, meaning we now have a quite cohesive style that comes out in our designs,” Line explains.

For Benjamin and Line, a personal impulse to create an object is always the primary motivator behind their products—rather than any commercial imperative or market demand.

“We largely develop our designs from a personal need or a desire to see a function fulfilled. For us, it’s absolutely essential that what we produce comes from within. Our job is to envision something we haven’t seen yet and bring it into the world,” Line says.

“It’s a privilege to be able to envision an object in one’s inner eye, process the material, and within a day or two, the object exists in reality. But that process is rarely as smooth as that might sound.

“When we develop a new product, we’ll have had the idea in our head for some time already—and it’s rare that we hit the mark on the very first try. We make samples that cool overnight and we look at them the next day. If we’re satisfied, we take them into our house for testing.”

Throughout this process, the MingarWalker glass melting furnace is running continually. It swirls glass at a temperature of 1,120°C, all day, seven days a week. Then, once the product has been shaped, it goes into a cooling oven at 500°C—and only the next morning are the products finished. It’s a process that visitors can come to witness and try for themselves, in live demos or hands-on workshops at the MingarWalker studio.

But while the focus for Benjamin and Line has always been glass, that’s now just one part of what they do. Today, the business also has a micro-farm where they grow seasonal flowers for their floristry. And they have a bindery where they make small hand brooms for the home and garden.

This means that they can pair up different products, such as a vase with locally grown flowers, for a more complete offering. But it also allows Benjamin and Line another outlet for their creativity.

“Channelling all creativity into a single material is a major challenge for us, no matter what that material may be. We can compare it to monoculture in agriculture: if we keep planting in the same soil, that soil becomes unbalanced,” says Line.

“We solve this by practising something like crop rotation in our creativity—if you will. Being able to work with glass, agriculture, and fibres for our brooms gives us a good breadth of material use. And what we do with one material provides nourishment for the others.”

In this way, Benjamin and Line see these parallel productions as deeply complementary, and as fundamentally a sustainable practice.

“As a small-scale producer with local roots, we’re part of a societal change that’s encouraging more meaningful consumption,” Benjamin says.

“People need to make considered decisions about what they should own and what they shouldn’t. We believe that the inherent character of things—their material, their journey, their use, their history—must come to have a greater significance if we’re to stop harming the planet.”

It’s one reason why Benjamin and Line are so proud to be working in a tradition that stretches back for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

“Our techniques are in many cases unchanged since Roman times. I find there’s something immensely beautiful in standing in such a lineage and bringing this ancient craft into the present,” Line says.

Still, from this timeless practice, Benjamin and Line are producing something personal, new, and unique.

“Every creative person takes in social currents, which they process and transform before putting something out into the world in a new form. With its deep roots, glassblowing can be compared to handwriting: even with a common starting point and shared practice, we all make something in our own way.”

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