Jesper Jensen is a Danish glass-artist whose work not only tests the boundaries of art and craft but he is also widely recognized for his contributions to the future of the craft’s environmental sustainability. Originally trained as a glassblower, he uses his knowledge of the trade to play with the shapes and forms of found items such as beer and wine bottles, while keeping his focus on his experimental aesthetic and his creative conscience.
Please tell us a bit about your journey towards becoming a glass artist in Berlin.
When I was very young it became clear that I am dyslexic. I realized very early that I had to focus on my creativity, if I wanted to do something meaningful with my career. If I hadn’t been dyslexic I would have liked to be an astronomer.
I was born and raised in Denmark and I moved to Berlin in May 2010, in order to start up my own glass studio. There’s a lot of competition in Scandinavia, as there are already many established glass studios. But in Berlin the costs of living are low and there are very few other glass artists here, so I thought it was a good location. I also wanted to create a distance from my Scandinavian colleagues, in order to focus on my own method and develop it further. Before I moved here, I lived and worked in many European countries to gain experience as a glassblower. Initially, I was educated in Sweden at The National School of Glass and in 2005. I then took three years of further education at The Danish Design School, in order to learn more about the design aspects of the craft.
You’ve done quite a bit of experimentation with more sustainable ways to work with glass, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I grew up in a family that always focused on the environment. During the 14 years I worked with hot glass I realized that the craft I love is highly polluting. This really troubled me, because the products I make are not necessities, but luxury items. I then started exploring the possibilities of working with glass in a more sustainable way, in order to give the customers a more environmentally friendly alternative. In the glass manufacturing process the highest polluter is the glass furnace, where the glass is kept liquid. For that reason, I tried to find a way to work with glass, without using this oven, and came up with a new method. In September 2009 I was invited to participate on Cop Creative, a competition organized by the Danish Ministry of Culture, with the aim of finding creative solutions to change the world. I won the competition’s first prize by proving that you can work with glass and use local raw materials and simultaneously reduce energy by up to five-sixths of the normal consumption required for my craft – for this I received great recognition for my work from the industry.
Can you tell us a bit more about your working process?
I use recycled glass, such as bottles, from the local glass dumpster for my work. Most people think I’m a bit crazy when I’m crawling around in the glass bin looking for unique bottles. They stop to tell me that I really can’t get any money from such bottles. I explain to them that I cut the glass into smaller pieces, heat them up to 900 degrees Celsius and reshape them into new forms.
When you’re not working or looking for your materials where could one find you in Berlin?
When I’m not working, I like to take long walks through Berlin and explore the strange places in the city, especially the funny atmospheres of small dive bars. I’m always looking for inspiration and new glass materials – I’m a glass artist through and through and my work is my hobby. You can also find me at the local flea markets in Berlin since they are a great hunting ground for me to find old glass I can use in my artwork.