For his Cylinder series, which evolved from his Baskets, Chihuly incorporated glass thread drawings and shards into the surface of symmetrical vessels with muted tones. In 1986, he started his Soft Cylinder series, combining his drawings in glass with the sagging forms of his Baskets and the bright contrasting colors of his Macchia. A “pick-up” drawing technique is used to create a shard which is fused to the surface of the vessel at the molten stage.
“The essence of the Soft Cylinders is really at the point of the “pick-up”. First, a very detailed glass drawing—we call it a shard—is prepared before the blowing starts. Then the glass shard is carefully placed on a hot plate, with hundreds of glass threads all around the drawing. About halfway into the blowing process, right after the last gather of glass has been dipped from the furnace, the gaffer comes down on it with the glass and it fuses to the surface. This is the most exciting moment of making the Soft Cylinder. The shard may crack at this point and the glass threads go flying everywhere.”