1966-1979: THE GLASS FACTORY / by Tori Boggs

  In the laboratories with the 'experimental team' at 1BBW glass factory

In the laboratories with the 'experimental team' at 1BBW glass factory

After an unsuccessful stint as a teacher, Chetkov was allocated to Glass Factory 1BBW in Bolshaya Vishera, just outside the lovely city of Veliky Novgorod. It was 1965 and Chetkov came in to the factory like a lion. Artists were low down the pecking order, something Chetkov, with his need to create, to experiment and push the envelope, could not tolerate.

“The factory had a set plan of how many objects it needed to produce, and the artists’ ideas were not a priority. If they wanted to see their design implemented, they would have to make casts themselves – but they lacked the necessary skills. I invited craft workers to our laboratory. I showed them the sketches, and discussed the ways we could implement the designs. I was told that to create a product with a new design, they needed ready birchen forms; just as we expected, they refused to make them themselves. So, I took a saw, axe and a crow-bar and went to the warehouse. We prepared bricks of wood and brought them to a turnery… we made the casts and get them straight to a joiner’s department. There were other difficulties along the way; we constantly felt unwelcome. Finally, the compromise was reached: the casts were to be produced… [in the years to come] our works, mostly of my design, were taken abroad to take part in exhibitions in abroad including America and France.”Boris Chetkov

Chetkov had found his métier. The quality of glass from the factory improved to a point where this little factory started having its works chosen for exhibition. Chetkov was made Senior Glass Artist, and pulled a dedicated team around him. He constantly developed as a glass worker, his love of color in paint feeding into his love of color in glass. “Working with glass is enchanting, it carries you away, liberates your fantasy; the artist becomes a magician when he creates an object from a shapeless hot paste… Glass gave fire to my soul, and it left a deep burn in it.”

It left a deep burn in Chetkov’s art too. His ability with color, already masterful, was let completely off the leash after he started at the factory. As glass work fed into paintings and back into glass, a master painter started to shape himself over the fire of his passion.

Courtesy Kenneth Pushkin: 'Boris Chetkov in his own Words'.
Additional research: Hermione Crawford