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Artistry found through glass

Artist presentation: Paula Pääkkönen

Glassblower / Glass artist

Paula Pääkkönen is a glassblower and glass artist. She is fascinated by glass as a material because of its challenge and endless possibilities. Pääkkönen works with themes related to childhood, imagination and memories.

Pääkkönen at Nuutajärvi glass school in 2016. Photo: Sani Lappalainen

Pääkkönen graduated as a designer from the Department of Glass and Ceramics Design at the Kuopio Academy of Design, Savonia University of Applied Sciences in 2014. While studying there, she received her first taste of glass when the school provided her with her own small kiln and workspace. In an exhibition held by her teacher Maria Iltola, Pääkkönen was able to see glass art and the fascinating objects stuck in her mind.

Through the Academy of Design, Pääkkönen was offered an exchange to the University of Central Lancashire in England, from where she eventually ended up in Scotland for a three-month internship at the hot shop of Glasstorm Contemporary Glass Studio. She spent another three months in Nuutajärvi at Lasisirkus, where she also became familiar with the activities of the Tavastia Vocational College’s glass school. Pääkkönen applied to the glass school and once admitted, she studied glassblowing for three years, graduating as a glass artisan in 2016 and as a glassblower in 2017.

Lasikomppania’s hot shop, 2022. Photo: Sani Lappalainen

Pääkkönen believes that glass art is developing in a new direction in Finland. She sees that glassmaking is moving from mass production to glass made by small studios. The trend is towards more studio glass art, where the glassblower and the artist are the same person. Pääkkönen hopes that studio glass will continue to grow in popularity and production. More glass studios would mean the possibility of creating glassware in both design and art, even for designers who do not blow glass themselves. The use of glass as a material has recently gained popularity and Pääkkönen hopes to see it grow further. The reforms at Nuutajärvi bring hope.

Assorted Flavours series, Pink Marshmallow Bite, 2021. Photo: Paula Pääkkönen

In the future, Pääkkönen wants to make her own art. Pääkkönen has been making her Assorted Flavours series since 2017. She is still inspired by this series and is developing her ideas further, but the need to do something else has clearly grown over the years. The ideas are still closely linked to the childhood memories that gave rise to Assorted Flavours.

"The themes may remain the same, but the ideas for presenting them may change. I want new ideas to come naturally without forcing the creative process. It's good to be aware of my own need to move on from ice cream, even though I enjoy making them," she says.

Strawberry Marmelade Bite. Photo: Paula Pääkkönen

Pääkkönen is also happy to blow for other designers, as she feels that collaboration is an important part of being a glassblower. She has worked on Milla Vaahtera's Dialogue series, where Vaahtera has made the dialogue between glassblower and designer a central part of the works. The glass parts used by Vaahtera often arise spontaneously in the hot shop, brainstorming with the glassblower.

Pääkkönen finds working for other artists to be fruitful, as it broadens her imagination and develops her as a glassblower. By combining her skills with someone else's visual vision, she can explore her skills and ideas further. Working together prevents her from becoming stuck in her own career, especially technically, as problem-solving in different projects always brings out new skills.

Blowing: Jonas Paajanen, Paula Pääkkönen, Sani Lappalainen and Pauli Vähäsarja. 2018. Photo: Milla Vaahtera

Pääkkönen would like to see glass become more popular as a material. It is important to have works of art made by the glassblower, the creator of the studio glass, displayed in museums of contemporary art. Although glass art is on the rise, Pääkkönen says that it is still not appreciated in galleries and museums in the same way as visual arts.

Pääkkönen hopes that glass art will break out of its mould and be seen as more than just a beautiful vase. Through her own works, she would like to present glass as an art without function. Because glass has been used for so long, it is difficult for people to see and appreciate it as art.

"It would be great to see a wider audience knowing about the different techniques and how demanding it is. I would also like to see glassblowers and designers freed up to make art that breaks the tradition of glass art. Dear traditions do not disappear, but we can expand beyond them," Pääkkönen says.

Pääkkönen's first solo exhibition [aɪ skriːm] held at TÄKY Gallery in autumn 2022. Photo: Anna Matzcak

Pääkkönen says that she might not have found her artistry without glass. Although glass is an essential material in her art, she has also toyed with the idea of using other materials. An educational background in glass and ceramics design has made clay a much-loved material for her.

She sometimes gets ideas from other materials, for example, because they allow for a larger scale than is possible with glass. However, she feels that glass will remain the primary material in her own art in the future and believes that other materials will join if there is time.

Pääkkönen's future plans are to give herself time to develop artistically. She hopes that next year will bring new winds and is looking to the rest at the turn of the year for new energy to develop her next ideas.

In the future, there will be a solo exhibition at Gumbostrand and, before that, a few group exhibitions, such as the ongoing JEWEL Lokal in Helsinki (open 25 November – 23 December 2022) and the UUmarket Christmas store at Kämp Gallery (1 December – 17 December 2022).


The Arts Promotion Center Finland (Taike) supports Lasikomppania with its communication activities. Stay tuned for future blog posts from Lasikomppania, where we will be able to get to know all the individual artists, their news and their working methods. Subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the page to receive new blog posts and other news from Lasikomppania!

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