Robert DuGrenier's glass shells have evolved as part of his inquiry into and interactions with the natural world.

One of DuGrenier's hand-blown crab shells providing a wild land hermit crab with protection for a time.

Robert blowing glass in his studio in Townshend, Vermont.

Glass Shells

The following is an interview done by The Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet in April 2010.

GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Robert DuGrenier:
I’ve returned to working on my ongoing series of hand-blown glass hermit crab shells and “Crabitats” (my name for the hand-blown glass environments I’ve been creating for hermit crabs to live in).

This work started in the mid-1990s at UrbanGlass and, now that I have my own hot shop, I’ve started to perfect the ultimate crab shell. It’s evolved over some time with constant changes to the thickness of the shell along with the best spiral configuration. The land hermit crab needs a shell to protect its soft abdomen. In the wild, they have always used different types of shells or enclosures they find as temporary homes, which they discard for a different shell when they outgrow it.

My glass shells provide such a temporary home for the crabs. The wild shells were and still are being collected in nature by humans without knowing that they are causing a major crises for wild hermit crabs. The thought of creating a blown glass shell which could be marketed (www.glassshell.com) to the pet world would possibly help out this problem.

My sculptural work has had to do with creating environments which change over time due to forces in nature. The element of time has always been one of the important factors. My current work with honeybees creating sculptures in their hives is an example — I’ll introduce blown glass objects into my beehives that the bees will encase in honey comb patterns; these, in turn, become my sculptures. My fruit tree and glass installation in my orchard in Vermont has been in place for more than 15 years — it’s fascinating to see how some of the glass has grown into the tree branches and I’m just starting to harvest some on the pieces which have grown and changed through many seasons.

A new series I’ve started is called “Llama-LLicks,” where, by licking their salt-blocks, my animals will create interesting shapes which eventually will be cast into pillars of glass. The new series “Flora/Fauna” has worked its way into my Crabitats, giving the visuals of the Crabitats a reef-like look.

GLASS:: What artwork have you experienced recently that has moved you, and got you thinking about your own work?
Robert:
Most of my inspiration comes from observing nature rather than looking at art.  A walk in the woods to see barbed wire growing through the middle of a tree, a crab on the beach living inside a Coca-Cola bottle, and observing the forms of my birds and the gestures of their necks when mating have most influenced my recent works.

GLASS: Do you have any upcoming exhibitions coming up where we might see your work?
Robert: I’ve been chosen to show in the American Design Club‘s “Breakable Glass by Design” exhibit at the Heller Gallery in May (2010). I’ll be showing one of my hand-blown glass “Crabitats” with living crabs and blown glass shells into which the crabs will move someday soon. Also, I’m in a regional show called “Cold, Warm, Hot — Glass Art of New England” at the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire from April 9th through May 8th, 2010.  A collection of my “Flora/Fauna” sculptures will be exhibited there.


To buy shells please visit GlassShell.com

Robert DuGrenier Associates, Inc.                               Back to Hand Blown Glass

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