Portland-based artist Eric Franklin creates breathtaking Luminous Skull Sculptures made of glass tubes that contain ionized gas.
All this creations are handmade using borosilicate glass. The process of creating these distinctive skull sculptures is tedious, as the structure of the human skull is deviously complex. Moreover, these are not made of solid glass pieces, each skull is made from a network of glass tubes that have to be perfectly sealed to create the vacuum necessary to fill them up with neon and light them.
One of the challenges when creating the luminous skull is that fact that when these are lighted-up the glass gets hot. Therefore, one cannot use plain glass to construct them, it is of paramount importance to use heat resistant borosilicate glass. A type of glass that has a much lower coefficient of expansion than the glass used to make vases and such is much harder to work with. In addition the glass thickness has to be pretty consistent as well to avoid cracking. The artist spends about 1000 hours on each piece and in the course of his creative process the teeth are his biggest challenge.
While these peculiar skull sculptures are macabre and loaded with a post-mortem theme according to the artist they are in fact celebrations of life.
“The human body is mostly liquid, and glass is really just a liquid that happens to be frozen at room temperature. Glass is an amazing membrane that can be inflated, stretched and compressed. It can be broken and repaired. In some instances, glass has incredible strength and durability, and in others extreme fragility and vulnerability. Imagery of skulls and skeletons carry a certain post-mortem weight along with them, but they come from a much more visceral and optimistic place than that. For me, they are much more about being alive than dead. These pieces describe and define the dynamics and interconnection of everything that makes us human: from our bones to our psyche.” He says.
Apart from the amazing glass workmanship the defining element of these amazing skull sculptures are the ionized gases that give the pieces an imposing allure, an element of surprise and mystery. This innovative lighting technique brings a certain dynamism to otherwise relatively static pieces. In addition, the distribution of colors and the variable intensity make each piece absolutely unique.