Steffen Dam Glass Artist

 What drew you to the natural world as a source of inspiration?

My grandfather’s books have been an important inspiration for me. He was a dedicated reader of natural history.  He also had a library filled with illustrated books on the sciences also natural flora and fauna.

Your interest in nature is still very alive today and,  in your glass, discuss.

Yes, I have a large vegetable garden and I work in both my garden and studio.


Art was not your original starting paint – discuss. 

No, I was trained as a tool maker.  Combining this with my knowledge of the natural world.  I built my first ceramic studio in 1985  The ceramic studio soon turned into a glass studio.  Leading to me leaving my job and working as a glass artist full time.

Expand on you Rawkow Commission from the Corning Museum, USA.

Describe the work you did for this commission.


This work is a glass botanical panel.  Made up of 24 blocks each block contains my interpretation of part of a flower.

It appears as 24 blocks of glass.  It is basically made up by the blocks being sliced and rejoined in all directions many times.  There would probably be over 100 pieces of glass if you counted them all.


What make this piece so special?

This is a very relevant question and i think you should ask it of any artist you meet.

It is called a Flower Block and I believe that is a plausible title. The title of course is a metaphor – a verbal flower. It depicts botanical details and yet I have very little exact knowledge of botany. In other words we are between fiction and reality here.


In spite that it’s very exact, precise and square, it’s equally uncertain what we’ve have in front of us – it’s not science and it’s not Hans Christian Andersen. We’re in the land of the idea – the land of abstraction – a place where things can go in several directions. The purpose of this piece of glass, or of any metaphor is to use one subject to gain insight in another and thus prove to the viewer that abstract thinking is possible.


Each block contains my image of a botanical detail.  Even though I have very little exact botanical knowledge about botany.  The aim is to get a balance between reality and fantasy.  

How did you position the individual pieces blocks?

I make many more detail than I need . They lay on my table for weeks, while I select and change the positions . This is a tricky part of it.

How are the colours made?

All the colours are made using silver foil or carbon from a welding torch.  They are not manufactured coloursThe welding torch and silver give a palette of its own.  From opaque white to dense yellow. I am constantly striving to be in charge of the colours.

Can you explain about the creation of accidents in your glass – Happy accidents.

Can you show us a current piece that you have been working on and why it has excited you due to a new technique?

I have recently made a large group of specimen jars called Pangaean zoology. The group is 2 m long and consists of 20 different solid glass cylinders containing fictive biological specimens. I have been solving technical and artistic problems on this kind of work for years and I’m very satisfied that i can still invent new specimens and improve the plausibility of existing types.


Contact details:

Steffen Dam

Ebeltoft,, Denmark

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, April 2019