Alice said “Begin at the beginning and at the end.” For better or worse life really doesn’t have those kind of demarcations. So perhaps one could say working in glass started at Pilchuck. Or perhaps at the Glassb Arts Conference in New Orleans where Ettore Sottsass spoke. And I met Susan Stinsmuehlen who asked me if would speak the next year in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles I showed my slides and afterwards I met this man who was very animated and seemed almost to hop and down, and he said “I could make those lamps in glass!!” The lamps he referred to were 16′ tall. And I had made them out of steel and aluminum for the 1984 Olympics. I looked at him and said “Why would you want to make them so big?” His reply was “I’m Italian!!” In that case I had to listen.
Martin Bedin, arranged a show in Paris where we designed purses for Martel leather. On the weekend I thought “What the hell, I’m going to Venice to meet this wonderful Italian man Mauro Albarelli.” I drew a glass piece when I was there and we made it, but it broke at the last stage, which was sad for all of us. Mauro said “I’ll be in Los Angeles. Make me some more proposals for a program.” Usually if 10 pieces are drawn, 1 or 2 get made. And I really wanted to do this. And I thought maybe we could do 10 or 12, which turned out to be elegant restaurant in West Hollywood and I brought the 179 drawings. After lunch, espresso and looking at the drawings, Mauro said “I like all of them.” Holding my breath asking “How many can we do?” Mauro replied “Well… all of them of course.
Over a two year period, drawing, visiting back and forth between Venice on my part, and Los Angeles on his, working with the maestros Elio Quarisa, and Italo and many helpers, we made these 179 pieces. In the middle of the program I realized that some of them weren’t that hot, so I re-did them and Mauro was thrown off and said “We can’t do these, because they are not part of the 179!” So to solve this I went back and picked out three of the weakest pages and simply redid them and reassigned their numbered sequence to the new pieces. When Mauro saw the new drawings he said “What’s this?” And I said “They have the same numbers!” And he laughed, and everything was OK.