Do you sometimes feel the urge to do something you have never done before? Like exploring new places, going on a trip on your own or building something you’ve always dreamt of building? That’s your Spark speaking. Keep that Spark alive and let it guide you. Because it’s going to make you shine. And when you shine, you inspire others to shine too. 

To inspire you, we’ll be sharing Spark Moments from people who follow their Spark.

BOOM!

A group picture of the Swedish female glass collective BOOM!

Fire is at the epicentre of this female platform for glassblowers. Their biggest aim is to change norms and to pass down an age-old tradition. Only this time it’s more playful and edgy. 
—Jonna Dagliden Hunt

A car trailer rolls into a suburb of Stockholm. It is not the normal one filled with junk – this trailer is painted in pink with unicorns and large flames that burns through the word BOOM!. It looks like something from a children’s story; a treasure chest filled with… glass, an industrial furnace and tools for blowing. The mobile glass studio ”Spajsy” by the Swedish female glass collective BOOM! was in fact created to make the age-old Swedish glass tradition more accessible to children and teenagers. 

a pink trail with two unicorns painted on the sideLighting an open flame
A woman shaping a piece of glass

”We wanted to show how the process works, create an interest in the material, and give kids and teenagers a chance to try it out, especially in socioeconomically vulnerable areas. We also wanted to prove to ourselves that we can build a furnace from scratch. So we took a course in welding, laid the bricks on the inside, and put isolation around it,” says Matilda Kästel who together with Ammy Olofsson, Nina Westman, Erika Kristofersson Bredberg and Sara Lundkvist make up BOOM!.

From hundreds of glassworks in Småland, the epicenter of Swedish glass tradition, in the 1900s, to 13 remaining. Now a new generation of glass artists are renewing the tradition. 

”We want to make glass as a material more available,” says Kästel whose family has a long tradition in glassblowing, with the roots in Germany. She is taking it further by adding new energy and perspectives to the craft.

”Lots of glassworks are fighting for their survival, not least due to rising production costs. It’s therefore more important than ever to share our craft.”

A blond woman lighting a fire
A closeup of a warm piece of glass
A piece of glass being formed into a beautiful shape
A blond woman lighting a fire
A closeup of a warm piece of glass
A piece of glass being formed into a beautiful shape
A blond woman lighting a fire
A closeup of a warm piece of glass
A piece of glass being formed into a beautiful shape
The hot, glowing properties of fire, Kästel explains, is the starting point for it all since all furnaces and torches are lit with it.

From melting the glass, to forming the glass with wooden blocks or newspaper and heating it again in the glory hole. 

”It’s an incredible material to work with. Everything is so incredibly hot. Fire is always present which forces you to be present as well. You need to think about how you move and what you wear,” she says and adds that glass is so immediate – soft when you start working with it, and when the temperature cools down, very hard and sharp.

The smell of burnt newspaper, the hot temperature, the light in the glassworks. All senses are included in the process of blowing glass. ”There are lots of things that affect you sensorially that I miss if I don’t blow glass,” Kästel says.

Having met during art school, the five artists decided to join forces with a simple purpose: to break norms and traditions associated with the craft. ”We strive for more playfulness when we meet with and work with glass. This includes using technology to create moving installations. There is so much to explore,” Kästel says, and highlights that each of them has separate identities. 

The female glassblower collective BOOM!A picture of Cricket lighters

While Kästel’s sculptures questions the role of the body, and uses contrasting materials, such as silicon, to make the glass even more distinct, Sara Lundqvist is inspired by spirituality and science fiction when she creates her poetic pieces. Erika Kristofersson Bredberg loves the process of blowing glass and the patterns it leaves behind, Nina Westman is interested in capturing the fragile nature of humans with the fragile nature of glass – and Ammy Olofsson is inspired by exploring contrasts such as traditional craft and new technology. 

The group also creates artworks together for specific shows they get invited to, such as recent shows at the North Norwegian Arts Center, and at The Glass Factory in Boda, Småland.

What binds the artists together is their shared passion that is crucial to be able to continue. 

”If there is something you really need as an artist it is a drive. You need an ambition to move forward. For me that represents a certain spark that you early on in life realise you have,” Kästel says. ”We need each other to support that”.

Facts
BOOM! is a female separatist group exclusively working in glass that consists of the artists Matilda Kästel, Ammy Olofsson, Nina Westman, Erika Kristofersson Bredberg and Sara Lundkvist. Together they want to share their skills and experiences and develop ideas, mount exhibitions and enter collaborations.

Do you sometimes feel the urge to do something you have never done before? Like exploring new places, going on a trip on your own or building something you’ve always dreamt of building? That’s your Spark speaking. Keep that Spark alive and let it guide you. Because it’s going to make you shine. And when you shine, you inspire others to shine too. 

To inspire you, we’ll be sharing Spark Moments from people who follow their Spark.

Elle
Nikishkova

Elle lighting a fire on a beach

Latitude 59° 13' 26.4"
Longitude 18° 32' 27.6"

In June 2021, we went along with Swedish outdoor expert Elle Nikishkova for an unforgettable day in the Stockholm archipelago.

The silence. That’s the first thing we notice when we arrive at our destination. There’s no man-made noise, just a light breeze in the tree tops and the birds singing. The faint smell of seaweed reveals that the sea is close by, just behind that small hill. It’s early morning and still a bit chilly. But soon enough the sun will warm us from high above the cloud free sky. In a few weeks there will probably be more people here, looking for a refreshing dip in the Baltic Sea. But today, there’s just us. We’re about as far out into the Stockholm archipelago as one can get by car and it’s quite amazing that it’s less than an hour’s drive from Stockholm City.

Elle and the equipment she broughtElle picking berries in a pine forest
Elle paddling her kayak in the distance

Elle unloads the car, going through every item. Bowls. Check. Ladles. Check. Fire bowl. Check. Frying pan. Check. Lighter. Check. Just as when you’re preparing a meal in your kitchen, you need to have your equipment in order when you’re cooking outdoors. But we’re in good hands, Elle’s done this before. This is her passion in life and she’s using her creativity to get the most out of what nature has to offer. Which is a lot. Elle tells us there are at least 150 edible wild herbs and plants in Sweden, quite a few of them tasty too. Not to mention the many types of mushrooms. She usually dries a lot of what she picks and brings it on her winter excursions.

A parked kayak
Closeup of a red kayak with a red Cricket lighter on it
Mussels being cooked in a pan on a fireplace
A parked kayak
Closeup of a red kayak with a red Cricket lighter on it
Mussels being cooked in a pan on a fireplace
A parked kayak
Closeup of a red kayak with a red Cricket lighter on it
Mussels being cooked in a pan on a fireplace

We found a nice place to sit on a rock slab next to the water. At first glance, the slab looks solid “grey”. But when we look closer, we see that it’s more of a mix of glimmering mica, shiny quartz, pink gneiss and grey granite with patches of black, green and grey lichen. Where the slab meets the water, it’s covered with light green, almost fluorescent, seaweed. Higher up on the hillside, there are small pools of water and dead seaweed, probably from a recent storm.

We sit there for a long while, silently watching the sea, the gentle waves, the glittering surface of the water. Beyond the shore: island after island shimmer in the bright summer sun in colours ranging from moss green to light grey, and fade into the sky in the far distance. Sitting by the sea, sipping on a hot cup of newly brewed coffee is definitely one of those simple things in life one should appreciate more.

We check the map to find a place where we can cook dinner over an open fire. A beach within walking distance looks perfect. Elle’s going to take the kayak there, the rest of us will walk through the forest. Elle puts the kayak in the water and heads out. Except for a sailing boat in the distance, her kayak is the only visible craft. Below the surface, there are perch and pike, and, this time of year, probably Baltic herring too. Fishing is of course part of the outdoor expert’s toolkit, but we’re not fishing today. Instead, we’ve brought everything we need for a delicious meal and Elle’s going to show us how to cook it over the open fire.

Elle drinking her coffee and looking into the distanceA Cricket lighter beside a blazing fireplace on a beach

Elle is paddling to the beach we decided on, and we find a narrow path through the forest to get there. The path is covered with a thick layer of pine needles, which feels soft and comfortable under our feet. On both sides there are pines and juniper wood, some of which hasn’t survived the harsh weather here and turned into twisted figures of silver shimmering dead wood.

When we get to the beach, a crackling fire is welcoming us. Being able to make a fire is probably the most important outdoor skill one needs to master, Elle tells us. The open fire is deeply rooted in us human beings. It’s been with us for several hundred thousand years and has accompanied us all the way into modernity. Apart from helping us to cook our food, an open fire keeps us warm and it’s of course wonderfully cozy to gather around for socializing.

“Being able to make a fire is probably the most important outdoor skill“

The day has passed too quickly and dusk is approaching. We’re now enjoying a delicious meal and we’re indeed very hungry after a lovely day by the sea. We can’t help but think there’s something very special about outdoor cooking, as there is about eating outside too. And sitting close by, watching the warm, vibrant flames cast shadows on the surroundings – it’s mesmerizing and a perfect way to wind down. Could one ask for more?

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