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Peter Viesnik is still blowing glass 32 years on

JESS LEE
Last updated 13:37 04/12/2012

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It all started with a broken down beer bottle.

It might not have been much to look at but that first paperweight fired something inside of Peter Viesnik and 32 years later he is still blowing glass.

The 73-year-old is holding a sale this Saturday at his newly renovated Grey Lynn studio to mark his third decade as a hot glass artist and to celebrate the work of the two fellow artists who now share the space.

Mr Viesnik arrived in New Zealand from England in the mid-70s and started up his first studio in Devonport a few years later.

He has gone on to become one of New Zealand's best known hot glass artists with his range of paperweights, vases and bowls.

But it was by chance that the self-taught artist broke in to the industry while looking for a creative outlet.

''I looked at the different things that you could do and when I finally came across glass I thought 'yes, that's the stuff'. I like its plasticity and it's a great medium for colour,'' Mr Viesnik says.

A lot has changed in the decades since he made his first work from that old beer bottle.
''When I started things were more conventional. It was in its infancy and there were very few people doing it but now anything goes really.

''Every now and again I'll try a new idea and see if it works. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't,'' he says.

There's much more to making his signature paperweights than meets the eye.

Each individual component inside must be created first and then painstakingly introduced behind layers of clear glass.

Once assembled it is then polished by different grinding wheels.

Mr Viesnik went through many career changes, including a stint as a restaurateur in Tauranga, before settling on glass.

''I think I'm probably getting a bit long in the tooth to change again.''

Fellow glass artist Isaac Katzoff now shares Mr Viesnik's Grey Lynn studio space.

The 35-year-old says he hopes to continue in the industry for as long and with the same enthusiasm as Mr Viesnik has.

''I really look up to Peter. We all do very different work but its great working alongside skilled glass blowers.''

The sale will be held from 9am to 3pm at Viz Glass, 36a Monmouth St, Grey Lynn

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