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Spruce Green Tlingit Basket (work of art)

Artwork Info

Created
2016
Nationality
Tlingit
Birth/Death
born 1963-
Dimensions
H. 17 1/2 × D. 18 1/2 inches (44.4 x 46.9 centimeters)

Credit

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. G. Wallace Newton

Object Number
2023.3.2
Culture
American Tlingit
Classification
Glass

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • Preston Singletary is a contemporary Indigenous artist of Tlingit heritage. 
  • The Tlingit are Alaska Native Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
  • Singletary’s work combines Tlingit mythology and traditional design with the medium of glass. He creates glass sculptures using a combination of glassblowing and sandblasting techniques. 
  • This glass sculpture is decorated with traditional Tlingit designs. The middle design is considered to be a tattoo design. The top and bottom bands are a blanket border design.

Learn More

Preston Singletary is a contemporary Tlingit glass artist based in Seattle, Washington. The Tlingit are Alaska Native Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Southeast Alaska is the ancestral home of the Tlingit people. 

Singletary attended Pilchuck Glass School and then worked at the studio of Benjamin Moore, where he developed his own work. His glass sculptures represent themes of Tlingit mythology and traditional designs. He uses his artwork to communicate Tlingit cultural knowledge. This includes stories, mythologies, symbols, and memories passed down to him from his Tlingit great-grandmother.

The artist’s process for making his glass baskets is complex. He first forms the sculpture using glassblowing techniques. During this step he layers two different colors of glass. After he creates his desired shape, he must wait for the glass to go through a slow cooling process. If the glass cools too quickly, it can become brittle and shatter easily. Once the glass has cooled, the artist applies designs using stencils and custom-made tape. The tape protects parts of the glass during the sandblasting process. The artist sandblasts the surface of the glass multiple times. He removes the tape when he wants to expose certain areas of the glass. This process reveals different colors in the layers of glass. When the basket is complete, the artist coats the surface with Liquid Luster. This product protects the glass and gives it a smooth finish. 

Singletary’s glass baskets are inspired by the Tlingit’s traditional spruce root baskets and their bold geometric designs. The basket patterns are often inspired by nature. They feature designs like butterfly wings, whale’s teeth, and flying geese. Singletary incorporates these motifs into his work.  The middle design on this basket is considered to be a tattoo design. The top and bottom bands are a blanket border design. 

When I began working with glass in 1982, I had no idea that I’d be so connected to the material in the way that I am. It was only when I began to experiment with using designs from my Tlingit cultural heritage that my work began to take on a new purpose and direction.

Preston Singletary

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Images

  • A glass basket set against a gray-toned backdrop. The basket is a semi-transparent dark green color, with a brown design band wrapped around the middle. The design band is made up of an identical top and bottom row, with an angular repeating pattern design. The middle row features repeating geometric shapes.

    Spruce Green Tlingit Basket

  • A glass basket set against a gray-toned backdrop. The basket is a semi-transparent dark green color, with a brown design band wrapped around the middle. The design band is made up of an identical top and bottom row, with an angular repeating pattern design. The middle row features repeating geometric shapes.

    2023-02-22_SINGLETARY_Spruce_Green_Tlingit_Basket_TR_2023_3_2_view-B (3)

  • A glass basket set against a gray-toned backdrop. The basket is a semi-transparent dark green color, with a brown design band wrapped around the middle. The design band is made up of an identical top and bottom row, with an angular repeating pattern design. The middle row features repeating geometric shapes.

    2023-02-22_SINGLETARY_Spruce_Green_Tlingit_Basket_TR_2023_3_2_view-D (1)