Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Lone Pioneer – Carol Milne

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When we think of knitting, of course, we are met with an image of soft fabrics being crafted into intricate, weaving patterns. However, to Carol Milne knitting has a quite different definition. 

Milne’s is the lone pioneer in the field of knitted glass, quite literally bending the limits of the material. Through her dedication and passion for the obscure combination, Milne has developed a unique variation of the lost wax casting process which allows her to cast knitted work in glass creating light, but solid. Sculptures and functional items. 

Photo Credit :: Steve isaacson

Finding a New Medium 

Although trained in Landscape Architecture, graduating from the University of Guelph, Canada in 1985, Milne quickly realized her passion lay in sculpture. 

Despite turning her full attentions to sculpting and attending graduate school, it took a lot of experimentation with various mediums before she found her signature style in glass in 2000. 

Then, in 2006, Milne created the first “knitted glass”, incorporating techniques of knitting, lost-wax casting, mould-making, and kiln-casting to create the new form.  

To break down the process; a knitted glass sculpture first requires Milne to knit the original piece using wax strands. Then these strands are surrounded with a heat-tolerant material which is heated to melt and remove the wax—thus creating a mould. The mould is then placed into a kiln where lead crystal “frit” is heated until it melts into the mould. Once cooled, the mould is then removed to reveal the final piece. 

Beyond innovation itself, Milne has located great personal meaning within the process explaining: “I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure.  Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together.” 

This technique has, of course, drawn much attention to Milne’s artworks resulting in several solo exhibitions and international awards—which comes as no surprise when you view the works themselves. 

From knitted glass shoes and hats to functional bowls and baskets, the variety of soft colors and intricate shapes created by the process make her works truly one of a kind. 

While Milne’s work is still seeing strong exposure across the globe, most recently she has become an artist in residence with Amazon at their Headquarters in Seattle, throughout 2019. This clearly spells out the fact that the innovator, now nearing 60, has no intention to slow down her production of unique glass arts. 

Photo Credit :: Steve isaacson

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