His larger works, some weighing over 1,000 pounds, are produced in his studio at SCHOTT, where overhead bridge cranes move the massive pieces from step to step in the sometimes months-long process required to produce one singular, spectacular sculpture. Ries “cold cuts” each piece himself after selecting the glass and marking the design free-form, using a red wax pencil in sweeping strokes. Then begins the laborious task of grinding and polishing, using air-tools he helped to develop as well as thousands of dollars worth of diamond-edged dental tools for finishing details. He is assisted by four SCHOTT employees, Corey Bormann, Ernie Hubert, Doug Leidy and Kevin Rail.
His artistry lies in illusion – and his sure knowledge of the nature of glass. He knows, for example, how the cut of a curve will make a petal appear to unfold or harp strings undulate. All the more amazing as, for the most part, all his pieces are abstract, “the essence of reality.”
As part of their remarkable relationship which includes co-ownership of the major works, SCHOTT routinely uses Ries sculptures as gifts on a grand scale. The most recent was the donation to the University of Central Florida, where SCHOTT Glass Technologies is a member of the school’s Industrial Affiliates program and the School of Optics’ Board of Visitors.
“Christopher Ries’ sculpture presents the quality of our material in its best light. Even people from outside our field marvel at the purity of our glass that Ries reveals through his art,” says Bruce Jennings, president of SCHOTT Glass Technologies. “The work we have done together will continue to speak well of the company as long as it exists”