John Blazy is a radiation-cure chemist and an owner of three patents, who describes himself as an inventor, an engineer, a scientist. Don’t blink – you didn’t accidentally tab over to Popular Science. Blazy has a home here at CODAworx because while he can lay claim to the titles above, he is, at heart, an artist and fabricator who designs stunning pieces of work that incorporate color-changing glass.
Last year, Blazy unveiled “Lightsicles,” a massive installation at Western Michigan University made up of multiple large, color-changing glass panels illuminated by banks of LED lights. He designed and fabricated each panel himself in his Ohio studio.
“The art selection committee wanted high-tech innovative materials and color. My product delivered because it’s the most high-tech and colorful glass in the world,” says Blazy of the piece. “The shapes came to me because I wanted an effect of stalactites in some off-world, crystal cave. Plus, it has the aesthetics. The mass at the top cascades like a vector…there are a number of forms that make it work visually.”
But Blazy wasn’t always able to spend his time carefully constructing whimsical installations by hand. Always interested in structure and form, he studied furniture design at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“I was in Cleveland and couldn’t make a living in high-end furniture, so became a chemist because I had a lot of experience in chemical coating,” says Blazy. “That’s where I found films that change color the way that dichroic glass did.”
He had two patents under his belt for pigmented UV coatings at a chemical plant when a happy accident led to the formulation of Dichrolam, Blazy’s bread and butter and a unique kind of glass that changed color depending on the position of the viewer.
Dichrolam is different from regular dichroic glass in that it has greater color travel (read: it’s more colorful) and can be constructed in much larger quantities at a fraction of the cost. With Dichrolam, Blazy makes the largest dichroic glass in the world, huge sheets of 4’ x 12’ for his work.
He credits his multi-disciplinary life for the discovery.
“The art drove me to be a better scientist, and being a better scientist made my art better,” he says. “Synergistic relationship, using both halves of my brain.”
Since he invented Dichrolam, Blazy has been designed and created pieces for Sony Style, Disney, MTV, Norwegian Star Cruise Lines, and Bloomberg Financial, among others, and is always taking on new projects. He says there’s an exceptional aspect to his work as the inventor, designer, and fabricator of all of his pieces.
“I make it sing! Sometimes the designer has to invent the very materials he’s designing for.”