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One day, after fifteen years as a glass blower who made only one thingr(R)decor ative glass balls blown to perfection (same diameter, same weight)r(R)Kotani Sanzo embarked on a second career as a fully fledged glass artist. A friend of his who traveled to Mexico showed him a glass cup he had purchased there,and asked him whether he could reproduce it.

Kotani took on the challenge in his own special way, never once asking a single person for advice in the 35 years that followed. The costs of this approach included numerous disappointments and some serious burns, and it was 15 years before he felt confident in his work. Kotani is a true fundamentalist, so rigid and uncompromising that, no matter what you think about the wisdom of his method, he commands a deep sense of respect.

We visited him on a rainy day, and found him in his workshop right next to the house. True to his ideas of simplicity, both the workshop and the toolshe uses are very basic. There are no assistants around, as he insists on working completely alone. Kotani has no desire to improve his working conditions, saying that modernity brings perfect results: something he is no longer interested in creating.

When a visitor, looking around at the various works on display in the atelier, remarked that their texture and form reminded him of old glass, Kotani was obviously delighted to hear this observation.He responded that, indeed, he always tries to evoke the warmth of old glass in his work. He deliberately uses crude raw materials resembling those used by glass artisans of former centuries, and his primitive tools definitely belong more to the past than to the 1990s.

During the interview, the fire in the furnace was burning and the color of melted glass inside it was surreal.

The works themselves, whether they be bottles, cups, bowls or jugs, are beautiful.

The shapes are soft, much of th e glass is foggy, and most of the colors are not very bright, adding to the warmth of the pieces. Indeed, the slight imperfection you can see in each piece makes it more human, increasing its charm.

Asked if he had any advice for young aspiring glass blowers, Kotani said, "Get someone to teach you the very basics, and discover the rest by yourself.It may be harder, but also much more rewarding."

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