Oliver Höglund has one of the most interesting and creative careers on the Gold Coast. A glass artist and co-owner at SOKTAS, he makes one-of-a-kind glass light fittings that are some of the most beautiful and intricate creations we’ve ever laid eyes on.
We sat down for a chat with Oliver about working with materials at 1100°C and the skills that have been passed down through generations.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Two years here now, I moved up from Melbourne after spending a year there.
What do you love most about living here?
The climate here is perfect. The nature and beaches here are amazing.
Tell us about your business Soktas…
Soktas came about in 2015. Myself and Ryan (Roberts) had been living in Norway for the past 4 years, coincidentally we were both ready for a big change at that time. Our paths met and led us to combine both his business skills with my glass making experience. We set up the business at the end of that year here in Australia and have been working on it ever since.
You’re a Glass Artist, how did that come about?
My grandfather was a glass designer at Kosta Boda in Sweden and my dad grew up with the craft. He moved to NZ and started his glass company, I learnt the craft through him.
Can you talk a little bit about the glass blowing process…
The transformation of raw materials into glass takes place around 1200 °C. We spend a day loading the glass into the furnace with a combination of raw material and recycled clear glass. The glass is melted down and is ready to be worked with the following day at around 1100 °C. Using tools and techniques dating back to medieval times, we gather molten glass from the furnace. The glass is gathered using steel rods and pipes and can now be blown, shaped and formed. Stainless steel tools and wet wooden blocks are used to shape and form the hot glass. Wet newspaper is also used in the hand to form the glass into its desired shape. The glass will cool down to a solid state and once this happens we can now place the piece into an “annealing oven” which runs at 500 °C. If the glass cools too much it will crack so this is a critical point in the process. The glass will drop in temperature slowly over 30 hours ensuring it won’t crack or break. The newly blown glass has now been emptied from the annealing oven and we cut and polish the areas that were “cracked off” from the steel blowpipes. Using a large grinding wheel and magnetic diamond discs we can work to achieve the desired finish.
What’s unique about the work you guys do at Soktas?
Every piece is made by Ryan and myself and the electrical fittings have been customised for the glass. All the products are one of a kind.
Where can we find your pieces?
soktas.co is where you can find all our pieces, we have a recent project section and a stockist page that will provide a location nearby.
If someone had a dream to become a glass blower, how would they go about that?
There are glass schools and programs out there for anyone at any level, that could be a great start.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2019 for you?
We have a few projects going on, so the plan is to continue making lights here in Currumbin for the rest of the year.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Coffee spot: Iron and Resin
Restaurant for dinner: Balboa Italian
How does your weekend usually look: Usually a swim or a surf and I enjoy spending time outside in nature.