Sculpted By Nature: Glass Art as a Voice for Earth's Flora

I travel all over the country and the world; my art and the natural flora of the Earth are intricately intertwined, influencing and inspiring my creativity. In a world often marked by chaos & turmoil, nature offers us a sanctuary – a place where we can find peace and reconnect w/ our inner selves.  

In the Spring of 1988 I went on a road trip to Georgia and found a Magnolia Bud that really inspired me.

Magnolia Buds


I knew I’d be going to what I call “glass camp Pilchuck” North of Seattle later that summer. I was so fortunate to be chosen for the first class of Italian/American glassblowing class in the country. My teachers were Billy Morris and Pino Signoretto.  Pino was a Master at solid work. I showed him the Magnolia bud and he made one. Then he instructed me to make one. His was a perfect copy, mine had gesture feeling and expression. He “proclaimed” that mine was way better, and it was a huge feather in my hat I will never forget.

Students Learning from Billy Morris at Pilchuck

 Copper Magnolia Bud Sculpture by Randi Solin


The making of botanical pieces are an exercise in patience… hundreds of glass “bits” are delivered by my assistants that are cut and sculpted into the seed pods. The Magnolia turned me onto other seed pods that were so inspirational, like the Banskia Bud from Australia and the Asian Poppy.

Banksia Bud (Image by Plant Files)

Banksia Bud by Randi Solin

Golden Poppy by Randi Solin

Asian Poppy


I started becoming increasingly influenced by Flora as I evolved as an artist by the nature all around me through real life encounters as well as reading which also became my muse.  

“Flight” was born from an image.  As soon as I saw if I knew it would influence a piece.  I call my brain the “Hopper,” I am constantly taking in information.  It is so complicated to make. To create this piece it takes a week of preparing the “cane” strings of glass. We hand pull them in the studio, running 100 feet apart as we break them up like spaghetti so that I can slowly layer them into the piece. 

Flight by Randi Solin


The next piece, Uruqin, was based on the last corner of Yemen where Bedouins still line a traditional lifestyle, walking their camels through the huge eighty foot sand dunes.  The path they create is called the Uruqin.  When people find out I am from VT they think Birch trees and snow but I was actually thinking about a monochromatic, quiet landscape. 

Uruqin by Randi Solin

May we never cease to be amazed by the transformative power of art so as long as you are feeling something… that is a success.  

The “Kauri” series is based on the Kauri tree sacred to the Maori people of New Zealand. As the Kauri tree grows it drops its limbs on the ground and it ends up with its arms up stretched to the sky! To create the Kauri, I layer powdered glass, rods and silver foil from Japan. 

Kauri Trees in New Zealand

Kauri Trio by Randi Solin

With all the flying I do and loving the window seat, the view from the plane window went into the “Hopper”. I created Lagoon as the view from 20,000 ft up.  When you look down on it you get a real sense of the Earth’s typography. 

Glacier was created after a trip to Alaska where we saw road signs with numbers on it for about 5 miles.  It wasn’t until we got to the parking lot of the state park that we realized those numbers were where the glaciers used to be like 1856, 1910, etc.  It had such a profound effect on me to see how much they had receded.  As I blew Glacier, I realized it was a sadness that I turned into creativity. 

Glacier by Randi Solin


My newest work, called “Flow,” was inspired by Flora and yet it was truly a huge creative leap! I created Flow to give the viewer a sense of looking under water, and from my desire to make an enclosed rectangular sculpture.


Flow by Randi Solin


To truly appreciate the essence of glass art inspired by Earth’s flora we must first delve into the boundless reservoir of inspiration that nature provides.  From the delicate petals to the towering majesty of ancient trees.  The natural world offers a symphony of shapes, colors, and textures waiting to be interpreted by the skilled hands of artists.  Consider the profound symbolism of the cycle of life from bud to bloom to eventual decay… reminding all of us of the fleeting yet exquisite nature of existence. Glass artists, captive by this symbolism, harness translucency and malleability of their medium to capture the essence of botanical life in perpetuity. 


Glass with its unique properties serves as an unparalleled medium for expressing the beauty and fragility of Earth’s flora.  Its transparency allows light to dance and refract within, but perhaps most significantly, glass possesses a transformative quality. Through the alchemy of fire and skillful manipulation, raw materials are transfigured into the object’s transcendent beauty, much like the power of nature itself.  Glass art, therefore, is not just an imitation of nature, but a symbiotic partnership with it.  A testament to the harmonious relationship between creativity and the natural world. 

Photo by Kristen Vallejo Photography