Inventor and Glass Technologist
Dominick Labino (1910 – 1987) was an American glassware designer and ceramicist.
At the University of Wisconsin, he studied glassmaking.
He began his work as an instrument builder for the Bacharach Instrument Company in Pittsburgh. He then moved on to Owens-Illinois Glass Company, where he developed a lifetime interest in glass. He established small laboratories to create new glass batches and fabricate small glass objects while in command of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company milk-bottle plant. Labino learned how to blow glass from his predecessor, Ben Alderson, in the 1940s. He continued his glass industry career by joining Glass Fibers, Inc., which later became L.O.F. Glass Fibers. He served as Vice President and Director of Research. After that, he served as Vice-President and Director of Research and Development at Johns-Manville Fiber Glass until his retirement in 1965. Still, he stayed affiliated as a research consultant.
Researcher and Inventor
He was a gifted researcher and inventor who possessed sixty patents in the United States and hundreds in other nations. He served as a technical and scientific consultant for several glass firms and federal entities such as the National Space Agency. He developed pure silica fibre, which was used to insulate the space shuttle Columbia and the Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini spacecraft. Three of his glass fibre inventions have also served as insulation against the Apollo Time Capsules’ severe temperatures.
Labino’s technical background aided him in his work as a glass innovator. The artist’s ability to create extraordinary shapes, which give flashing light to his pieces, the range of intensities of colour in his fused multicoloured forms, often contained in clear glass casing, and varied surface qualities, which create broken reflective lights or light-absorbing matte textures, is due to his unique combination of scientific knowledge and aesthetic inventiveness. However, while Labino was a form innovator, he is probably best known for his use of colour.
Use of Colour
Labino’s works exhibit striking colour, colour relationships, and subtle tonal variation. Few artists in this field can combine colours in the molten state because different colours react differently in the furnace due to minute changes in temperature and oxygen content, frequently resulting in breakage. Despite the difficulties, Labino believed that colour is a critical aspect of visual art. Labino created his colour formulations from raw materials, resulting in unexpected and exciting effects. With his knowledge of glass chemistry, he created colours that were unique to him.
Inspired the Studio Glass Movement
Labino and Harvey Littleton conducted workshops at the Toledo Art Museum in 1962, shortly before he built his glass studio, in the hope of transforming glassmaking from an industrial medium to an artistic medium. Their collaboration resulted in practices and technologies that enabled independent artists to work with glass in small, nonindustrial studios, thereby encouraging the creation of one-of-a-kind pieces rather than mass-produced glass. As a result, Labino is regarded as a founding father of the Studio Glass Movement. In 1968, Labino published Visual Art in Glass, a book documenting the evolution of glass as a medium for visual art through text and illustration. His work has been included in most historic Studio Glass exhibitions as a result of his influential role in the movement. Dominick Labino—A Retrospective Exhibition, 1964–1969 and Dominick Labino, Decade of Glass Craftsmanship, 1964–1974 are two of his one-person exhibitions at the Corning Museum. Additionally, Labino’s work is represented in the collections of more than sixty museums worldwide.
Labino has received numerous awards and honours for his influential work, including being named honorary curator of the Toledo Museum of Art (1969). He also received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bowling Green State University (1970), the first Ohio Arts Council Award, and the Steuben Phoenix Award (1977), which is widely regarded as the industry’s most prestigious honour. Additionally, Labino was the President of the Toledo Federation of Art Societies, the Toledo Craft Club, the Toledo Glass Collectors Club, and the Maumee Kiwanis Club. Additionally, Labino was inducted into the American Ceramic Society’s Hall of Fame (1973). He was also a member of the American Ceramic Society, the Society of Glass Technology (England), the Toledo Technical Society, the American Crafts Council, the World Crafts Council, the Ohio Designer-Craftsmen, etc. Archaeological Institutes of America. He is also listed in Who’s Who in Ohio, Who’s Who in American Science, and Who’s Who in American Art.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.
Founders of American Studio Glass: Dominick Labino. All About Glass | Corning Museum of Glass. (2011, October 21). https://www.cmog.org/article/founders-american-studio-glass-dominick-labino.
Freniere, J., & Tomas, K. (2014, November). Finding Aid – Dominick Labino . Toledo; The University of Toledo.
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