Jacarte: Generations of Creation

"Jacarte: Generations of Creation" Off the Easel Magazine. Fall 2011: 25.

Collectors and admirers alike appreciate fine art for many reasons: its tasteful beauty, the artist’s fame and talent, or how it makes them feel to look upon the work. For many, simply falling in love with the art is enough. What collectors may also realize is that particular art forms evolve over generations of creative processes, and that techniques are passed down through the centuries. What is created today exists due to the history that has come before us and the talent compounded over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. In acquiring such a work of art, like Jacarte inside painted vases, they are acquiring a part of that creative history.

Beginning in the Qing Dynasty of the 18th century, tak- ing snuff became a common practice after smoking tobacco was declared illegal. Shortly following, artists began to decorate the bottles used to carry snuff. Naturally, the intricacy and the expense of one’s snuff bottle grew to become an integral marker of higher class status. Eventually, the art form grew in popularity due to the difficulty of its creation and its myriad of artistic possibilities, and inside painting lived beyond the popularity of snuff itself. Inside painting, a technique known to few and requiring years of training and discipline, still evokes immediate appreciation and wonder today as a valued tradition and example of an artistic treasure.

The process by which artists paint vases from the inside requires years of training and experience. The master artists use a small hooked bamboo brush, composed of only a few small strands of hair, which is then used to access the inside of a vase or a bottle through the neck of the optical crystal sculpture. The design must be carefully composed in advance in order to consider how the painting will appear from the outside. There is no margin for error on such a miniature scale, and the artist must paint with extreme discipline. The masters who are selected to create Jacarte’s glass sculptures have at least fifteen years of experience with the art form. The creative process succeeds due to the collaboration between the designers and the master inside painters: “Our designers and artists, almost exclusively living and working in the US, give birth to each of our pieces. Then, a collective of artisans and inside painting master artists, calling on skills that exist only in certain provinces in China, give substance to their vision.”

With the rare talent and unique tradition that inside painting entails, Jacarte’s optical crystal vases and bottles are proudly collected and prized all over the world. To look upon a Jacarte vase is to see the contributions of generations of master artists composed within.

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