Since 2008, film industry veterans Neacol and Stanley Miller have been practicing the art of flame-worked glass sculpture on a tiny island in the Pacific. Their work is a fusion of the same techniques perfected by the imprisoned Renaissance masters of Murano, Italy, with nods to comic books, cartoons, candy and pop culture.
Under the studio name Bling Squared, their artisan pieces, usually between 1 and 10 centimetres in height, reside somewhere between toys, jewelry and fine sculpture. Each stroke of brilliant colour is actually melted glass, not paint, resulting in an artifact of whimsy that will last for centuries. The alchemy of colored glass rods liquifying around a molten bead in the heat of an oxy-propane torch lends each piece a vitality and timelessness. Influenced by the Japanese phenomenon of collectible vinyl desk toys, the couple's response is the permanence and vibrancy of glass as both material and statement.
The genre of their work requires an exotic vocabulary: anime, manga, kawaii ("adorable"), chibi ("short person") – a world of giant robots, talking animals and cat-eared schoolgirls. Their brightly- coloured, impactful figurines of playful, chubby characters have become increasingly varied as their skills as sculptors evolve. Here the artists have created an entire world populated with adorable critters, from Foxes to Dragons, Baby Penguins to Dinosaurs. Their work has appeared in Ayden Gallery in Vancouver and the Waterfront Gallery on Salt Spring Island, as well as numerous craft venues along the West Coast and has been showcased at Comic and Entertainment Expos all over North America. Supporting themselves by their art alone, they work from their home studio – torch, kiln, glass and all – while raising two small and active daughters.
Collectors and supporters of the work respond with instant happiness evoked by these charming pieces. A number of the characters in the line are inspired and suggested by the fans themselves, such as the signature "Octopus Ninja". In the context of "Low Brow" pop art, the figurines are timely, joyous, accessible, and irresistibly tactile.
"I love Bling Squared's jewelry. They make the cutest little characters that you want to wear all the time because they are so colorful and just so darn adorable! What's really cool is that they are hand made out of glass, and that's really unique and special. I can't wait to see what they come up with next!" - Camilla D'Errico