Roll up

Richard Price, speech may 17, 2005

I have been knowing Louis La Rooy for 7 years now. I was introduced to him by Annelien van Kempen, to help produce work for artists such as Gerard Thomassen, Saniye Bildircin and Melvin Anderson at Van Tetterode Glasobjekten BV. In those early years, Louis was not interested in the blowing technique for his own work. He felt very comfortable with the techniques of Bullseye fusing and slumping, something which he is excellent at. It wasn't until 5 years ago that Annelien organised a workshop from Hans Ittig on the Bullseye roll-up technique that Louis became interested in the technique of blowing glass. 

Roll-up implicates a technique where fused sheetglass is reheated and formed into a cylinder and after that is blown out in the desired form. So its really a combination of fused and blown glass. 
With the roll-up technique Louis is able to turn his 2 dimensional flat sheets of Bullseye into 3 dimensional objects. He attacked the possibilities of this new technique with the same energy, enthusiasm and passion as someone seeing glass for the first time. He became more enthusiastic with each roll-up session. With each session, the blowing studio grew. Bigger glory holes so we can make longer pieces. More glass in the furnace so we can make bigger pieces. More annealers, bigger burners and more space to work in... 
By now Van Tetterode has one of the best equipped hot glass studios I've ever worked in. 
With each roll-up session, Louis' understanding of the fluid possibilities of glass blowing has grown. Now, with each session he challenges our craft and knowledge of the roll-up technique, adding to and extending our capabilities. Each session involves 5 glassblowers, myself, Gareth Williams, Peter Huntelaar, Frederick Vanoverschelde and Mia Lerssi. 5 people working on 1 piece is not a common sight in glass blowing studios. Everyone is always happy and excited to be involved in these sessions. It is something completely different to what we normally do. The atmosphere is always one of enthusiasm. When the work is nearing completion and all the attachments are in place, Louis will physically grab and push the pieces in the right direction. When he is happy that all the pieces are flowing in the right way, we put the pieces in the annealer. There, they will gradually cool over 8 to 10 days. 
When the cooling is done, Louis finishes the pieces with the help of Paul Groot, who is the master polisher at Van Tetterode Glasobjekten BV. 
He will work the piece either with cutting and polishing or by adding more glass attachments and picking out details through sandblasting. He will work the piece until he is happy with the result, regardless of how long it takes. Louis' pieces are always both physically as well as aesthetically challenging. Louis always insists on staying away from the obviously beautiful and elegant qualities of glassblowing. Instead he prefers bold and dramatic forms, forms which are at the limits of our control. Always pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Forms which are at times spontaneous but always within the ideas of his drawing. His colours are as striking as the forms, with electric yellows and reds, vibrant and neon-like in quality. They are like plants from an electric jungle. His attachments are never overly pretty but always bold and shocking. Last year we produced pieces which we physically had to strangle and wrap in coils of glass. Last years pieces looked as if they were born to struggle and fight. This year Louis' work seems more at peace, less violent than the previous years. Now the pieces are looking much more like exotic greenhouse flowers. What the new designs will be, I don't know but I do know they will be unlike any other glass you can see here in Holland or abroad and I look forward to being part of the team which helps producing them. What's for sure is that you'll always know a Louis La Rooy design when you see one. 

Richard Price