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Multi-Layered Ariel and Graariel Glass
by Micke Johansson, Sweden


The astoundingly difficult technique behind Micke’s visually dense vessels is a feat worthy of amazement. It difficult not to be bewildered by a glass vessel with walls two or more inches thick, interlaced with two or three layers of images. And what images; dinosaurs, jungles, birds, flowers, monsters, tropical underwater scenes! One could be forgiven for being too distracted by the fantastical and sometimes outrageous imagery to appreciate the technique.

It is hard to believe that these detailed images are created out of nothing more than precisely shaped air bubbles trapped between thick layers of beautifully colored glass. This technique is called Ariel, and it was invented in 1937 at Orrefors in Sweden, near to where Micke’s studio is today. Few have mastered it, none other than Micke have executed triple-layer. Driven by the desire to overcome technical challenges, the artist graduated from triple layer Ariel to a new technique dubbed “Grariel” for the integration of Graal (an elaborate cameo technique that is the precursor to Ariel) with Ariel glass. This combination of overlaying opaque and translucent detailed imaged has resulted in work that exceeds any technical feat ever achieved in art glass.