A few years ago at an estate sale I was lucky enough to come across a really beautiful, large biomorphic hand blown glass form. I almost missed it because it had been filled with sand and seashell knick knacks which totally hid the beauty of the form.
Upon closer inspection the piece was heavy, well executed and obviously hand blown. Thankfully, etched along the rim of the aperture was the signature “John Bingham (C),” so there was no long, drawn out search for the creator behind this fabulous piece.
I found that Bingham is glass artist who works out of New Mexico, and as far as I can tell he is still living and producing studio glass. The biomorphic pieces shown here were produced during the 1970’s, and though some forms have a similar structure, all are individually unique. They are beautiful interesting pieces that have a variety of uses, and are perfect for a coffee table or credenza centerpiece. (If you’re like me you drive yourself crazy trying to find “the perfect” pieces to display on some of your beloved furniture.) In my experience all of Bingham’s biomorphic pieces from this era have his signature, so beside the form being truly unique, the signature should also make his work easy to spot.
I originally thought the large piece would be a perfect terrarium, for airplants or orchids, but that wasn’t the case. The aperture doesn’t allow for much airflow, so you must carefully select the type of plants that would thrive and those choices are limited. Besides the airflow issue, the locations I had available weren’t sunny enough so gave up the idea of a terrarium for the time being. This was fine by my fiancée who worried the water, dirt and debris would damage the glass overtime. (And he’s right, I’ve seen many beautiful pieces of glass ruined simply by someone leaving water in a vase or decanter. It causes calcium deposits and eventually a “sickness” gets into the glass marring and clouding its surface forever.)
Recently, my fiancee bought another smaller piece of Bingham’s work, so we could have a contrasting pair. Due the slant of the aperture on it I can actually use it to for a cool succulent plant. (Though I chose not to actually plant it in the piece, just use at a container for the potted plant, thus sparing the glass any damage.)
You can find these beautiful hand blown sculptures and pretty reasonable prices if you are willing to look and wait. Of course, 1stDibs will sell you one for $1,200 but you can find them for a 1/4 of that price or less with a little legwork. Ebay and auction houses are the best places to look. Once galleries or stores get a hold of his pieces they price them at $700 and above.
I think Bingham’s work is a great example of those unique artisan designs and works that you discover when you start exploring and researching – or digging around at estate sales. I must add that clear glass is one of the most difficult things in the world to photograph. My photos do not due these pieces justice, so use your imagination a bit. They must be seen in person to be appreciated. (But a Google image search for “John Bingham glass” will lead you to some examples better photographed than mine.)