Bjarne Nielsen

Sep 18, 2018Julia Kahrs

Bjarne Nielsen's crystal glazes are an attempt to imitate processes that took place in the earth's crust during the cooling of the globe. The passion for crystal glazes has only grown stronger over the years, and previous studies in physics and chemistry come in handy when Nielsen, within a couple of hours, has to imitate a process that took thousands of years.

What kind of work do you create?
Porcelain vases with different crystal glazes.

What did you want to be as a child?

Did you grow up in a creative environment?
Yes, but not in an art environment, but rather a craft environment.

When in life did you first learn about your field of work? What brought you there?
After a year as a civilian worker in Greenland, the reward was a stay at folkehøjskole in Denmark. I chose the Academy of Arts in Holbæk. After that stay, I bought a pottery kiln and set up a workshop in our teacher's accommodation.

What does success mean to you?
Being successful in my profession has meant that I have been able - together with my wife - to form a family and raise children, who in turn have chosen the same lifestyle and career as us.

What is your relationship with your material?
Hardly a day has gone by in the last 45 years when I haven't come across clay.

Tell us a little about your workplace!
Our workshop, Tornes Keramik- og Tekstilverksted, is on a former small farm near Hustadvika in Northwest Norway. We built it in 1990. The floor area is 120 m2 on one and a half floors. The 1st floor contains a ceramics workshop and a textile workshop, the 2nd floor has an exhibition room, Galleri Gløtt, and a photo room.

Which object is your favorite out of everything you've made?
It has changed over time, and usually what I'm doing at the moment is my favourite. The first thing I made in clay at Holbæk Kunsthøjskole was a small figure of a pair of twins. I gave it to her who is my wife, and it is probably the thing I value the most.

What is the most challenging thing about being your own boss?
It is very difficult to take time off, and you get many tasks outside of creating things.

Do you have any tricks or techniques that never fail if you need inspiration or to break out of routines?
I sit down at the turntable and decide not to plan what to turn.

What is your relationship with Norway Designs?
Since I moved to Norway in 1972, I have visited Norway Designs every time I have been to Oslo.

What expectations do you have for Norway Designs NÅ Vol. 5?
I greatly appreciated being chosen to participate, and hope that more people will experience the fascination and mystery of crystal glazes.

Tell us a little about the items you are exhibiting in this year's exhibition.
Three vases turned in porcelain clay and glazed with a crystal glaze colored with copper oxide and a hint of cobalt oxide. Glaze firing up to 1270 degrees and a controlled cooling where the temperature is kept at 1050 degrees for three hours and then at 1100 degrees for one hour.

Which identity do material and technique help to express?
I have worked for 45 years as a ceramicist. In recent years I have concentrated on what has become an obsession and passion: crystal glazes. Originally, I am a trained teacher from Denmark with physics and chemistry as special subjects. This has come in handy during the development of crystal glazes.

Is there one or more identities that are reflected through your work?
Making crystal glazes is an attempt to imitate processes that took place in the earth's crust during the cooling of the globe. This took place over thousands of years. I'm trying to get this done in my oven in a few hours. I repeat this process under extremely controlled forms and get two-dimensional crystals.

Read more about the process behind the vases here.

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