Inspired by space, physics, and cosmology, Josh Simpson began creating his incredible marble-sized planets in the 1970’s. Self-taught, he learned his craft through trial and error, a task very much in keeping with the art world at the time. Isolating himself in the Vermont Woods, Simpson learned to blow glass in a primitive, hand-built studio. He now resides in Shelburne, MA, but his work can be found on display in numerous galleries throughout the world and is in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In order to create his lush alien landscapes, Simpson uses a combination of glassblowing techniques. His process is a dance of sorts between the hand of the artist and what the glass does on its own, and the end result is an incredible mixture of deliberate choices and chance. Simpson begins his process by creating colorful glass rods called Cane. These rods are cut up into small circles called Murrine and eventually melted into his planets. Each planet begins with silver metal being melted onto a small glob of molten glass. Simpson then adds layers of the Murrine, colored glass, and often gold or platinum leaf, slowly forming the other-worldly landscapes that exist inside each colorfully bold planet.
The planet is then broken off of the rod and Simpson uses a blowtorch to give the planet its spherical shape. After it is allowed to cool, he then sands off the sharp edge at the bottom with the use of a spinning instrument coated in diamond dust. Lastly, Simpson etches his name into the bottom of each planet.