From otherworldly manicures for Rosaliá and Hunter Schafer to eyelashes and sex toys, Grace Wardlaw is building an empire made of of glass
I take Grace Wardlaw a year and a medium to see the music video by You’re going to forget it, the Euphoria-launch the collaboration between rosalia Y billie eilish. Eventually, Wardlaw added hers to the 68 million views on YouTube, seeing for the first time two of the most famous women in music adorned in their hand-blown glass creations. at your fingertips. When I question her hesitation, the Canada-based artist says she’s not sure what stopped her. “Maybe I have impostor syndrome. Like, that’s too much. That’s too crazy,” he postulates. It wasn’t until he hit the play button that Wardlaw realized the pieces were essentially the star of the video. “It’s a black room and just these two bodies with these illuminated fingernails,” she says. “It’s really beautiful.”
Glass is having a major moment in the fashion industry right now: New York-based designer Maryam Nassir Zadeh recently launched a jewelry line dedicated to the material and on TikTok girls have been rocking Y2K-inspired pendants for Brooke Callahan. At the beginning of this year, coperniin collaboration with New York-based glassware brand Heven, she created a crystal version of her original tote bag that, after being seen on brands like doja cat Y Kylie Jennerit quickly went viral.
Wardlaw’s introduction to glass came at a young age when her parents took her to “one of those weird pioneer towns” that had a glassblowing studio. There she became mesmerized by the process. “I was very fascinated with it. I remember looking at the fire and the molten glass and thinking, “this is so beautiful.” After his initial stage of studying art at university, his practice fell by the wayside as he traveled. Eventually, Wardlaw returned home and teamed up with her friend, artist Claire Anderson, to heal the trauma by creating a glass sex toy business. peace lily toys. Their pieces are so exquisite that they double as decorations when not in use and although Instagram keeps removing the image of this toy being shown in its night mode, they have even created a range of butt plugs that double as flower vases.
Since Wardlaw began collaborating with a Los Angeles-based nail artist sojin ohcreating custom glass pieces that Oh will place on the fingers of Rosalía and Eilish and lil nas x, grimes, björkY Ark, his focus of his glassblowing practice has broadened. He still creates with the same intent, but has begun to focus more on creating wearable sculptures, such as eyelashes, delicate facial adornments, chokers, and crowns of thorns inspired by Alexander McQueen’s fall/winter 1996 runway. In the midst of the pandemic, long before the Coperni bags appeared on the red carpet, Wardlaw posted a photo of a mini chili pepper heel which, enlarged, would not be bad on Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe catwalk.
Below, we talk to Wardlaw about her creative process, her favorite things to do with glass, and the extreme way she proves that no, glass sex toys won’t break inside of you.
You fell in love with glass from an early age, how was the process of moving away from it and then back?
Grace Wardlaw: I was very young when I discovered glass as an art form. I did a few projects on it in high school, before I realized there was a course at the university in my town. But after that, I stopped for a while. Glass can be quite inaccessible as a medium and I was moving around a lot. I would still do work and use a lot silicone and rubber during this time, which he cut and sewn back on afterwards shopping at toy stores and the toy district in downtown Los Angeles. Then in 2018 I got a residency at Sheridan College where I originally studied glass which reintroduced me to this. I came up with a plan to go back to school and learn the new digitized elements, such as 3D printing and 3D rendering, which is what I’m doing now. Currently, I’m learning how to render these orchid sculptures that I’ve been working on.
In 2020, you started making glass sex toys with another artist, Claire Anderson. Can you tell me a bit about how this came about and what the process of making these pieces is like?
Grace Wardlaw: I had just moved from New York, and Claire and I had just been through major breakups. For me, Peace Lily Toys has this layer of healing together because it was a really difficult time for both of us. We chose the peace lily and flowers in general as a concept and inspiration and went from there, developing products and designs. I was really interested in collaborations with artists, so I started reaching out to people I admire. Since then, we have worked with people like sacred sadism, who is really amazing, and Sua Yoo, another amazing artist. We’re trying to keep it open as an art project and a business, but also as something that brings us joy and keeps our creativity alive.
I looked at your FAQ on the site and the first one is will it break…
Grace Wardlaw: … We understand that very much. But our joke is basically making these videos where we hit them with cars and they survive. So we’re like your body, your soft tissue, you’re not going to break this toy.
Can you tell me a little bit about the big glass disc penis you made as your first glassblowing piece after college?
Grace Wardlaw: OMG yes. He is already here at my house. That was the first thing I did after leaving school. And I don’t know, I was just like, ‘I don’t know if this is art or not,’ but I didn’t care at all. I sent him to a sex shop in Vancouver where he lived for a while and he actually fell off the ceiling and broke in half. Now it’s back here and it has become the masterpiece of peace lily toys. We brought him to this sex expo in Toronto and it was a hit.
How is your creative process?
Grace Wardlaw: Although I could categorize certain pieces, much of my work overlaps and most of it is from nature. Even the sex toy business, which is centered around the peace lily flower: the flowers visually represent both the genitals and the reproductive systems. They are literally sexual organs. I also like to embed human qualities into flowers and plants as a way of looking at life and death, which is a philosophy I’ve been living with for a long time.
You work a lot with Sojin. Oh. How does that collaboration work?
Grace Wardlaw: Sojin and I are friends from when I lived in Los Angeles and as soon as she started doing nails, I knew we should collaborate. It might have taken a minute before she really started, but once she did, it was a breeze. Sojin has a similar creative process, and in a way, working together has deepened that connection for me in terms of drawing from nature as inspiration. She sends me images of things that she thinks are fascinating and beautiful, like mushrooms and sea creatures, and then she could try to replicate them with glass on this small scale. Batch by batch, we have grown together and become more intentional. We’re doing full games now, like, okay, Grimes wants a dagger game, so we go out there and do it. Sojin obviously just tears it up. It’s like magic. I sit in my little field studio in Canada and do things and then they end up in Los Angeles with these people. It’s pretty overwhelming.
What are your favorite things to make with glass?
Grace Wardlaw: Some of my favorite days right now are when I decide I’m going to take a look and sit with my glass lantern in front of a mirror and play. These pieces are so thin that they cool down very quickly, so I can bend a shape and fit it to my face along a certain area. And if it doesn’t work, fold it back. I’m in school right now so I have great facilities at my disposal and I can play a lot. I’ve been making these puddle pieces where I literally just put glass in a furnace and let it melt into a puddle. Those are quite satisfying.
What piece or project are you most proud of?
Grace Wardlaw: I’ve made a lot of things, but I love pieces that are random and just come to me. The disco ball is a great example of that. or my sphinx cat mask, which I did when I was trying to build some kind of weird fetish character. The piece with Sua [Yoo], what is a black claw dildoIt is without a doubt one of my favorites in recent years.
Grace Wardlaw: Right now, I am creating a body of work inspired by orchids. I am also working more with wearables. I had made wearable things before with silicone, but my collaboration with Sojin opened my mind to be able to do that kind of thing with confidence and feel that it is also art. It took me a second, but when I brought a glass to my face, it was like a moment for me. Now I’m experimenting with making the glass the item that’s sitting on the skin, or making it look like it’s coming out of the skin. The key thing when I think about fashion or style pieces is that it’s these extensions of the body or this technology that you use that is part of you. I have visions for much more than that.