Initially Christopher Ries was fascinated with blown glass, but by the late 1970s he was working in his home studio, sculpting cold glass using cutting, grinding and polishing techniques. His interest in cold glass was sparked by his experience at the University of Wisconsin, as a teaching assistant to Harvey K. Littleton; who is considered by many to be the founder of the 20th century American studio glass movement.
One of Ries’ responsibilities was to create the stands for Littleton’s blown pieces. The stands were constructed from cold glass. As Ries worked, he began to think about the way light was deflected or absorbed by the impurities in glass. He started searching for glass that was free of impurities, and found an extremely pure glass at Schott Glass Technologies in Duryea, Pennsylvania.
Working in his studio at Schott also gives Ries the ability to create the largest, whole, unassembled pieces of sculpted crystal known. Ries creates pieces that often weigh 200-500 pounds and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In his own studio in rural Pennsylvania, he carves smaller pieces that are up to 18″ in height.