With a working temperature of around 1100ºC the glass needs to cool down very slowly. This happens in a lehr, which is a furnace where the temperature drops from 500ºC to room temperature over 8 hours. This removes tensions in the glass or crystal.
With a working temperature of around 1100ºC the glass needs to cool down very slowly. This happens in a lehr, which is a furnace where the temperature drops from 500ºC to room temperature over 8 hours. This removes tensions in the glass or crystal.

The making of Mr Bunny

Few things in life go as planned. The creation of Mr. Bunny for the fourth IKEA Art Event was an exception to that. But of course, it wasn’t the first idea Joe Ledbetter had for the assignment to create a glass figure.

“I had two other ideas before landing on Mr. Bunny. The first was a toucan character, but due to limitations with glass production, it proved to be impossible. I tried a different route with my second design attempt: a bunny riding a surfboard, which was in-turn riding a shark. However, that idea ended up being scrapped as well because both IKEA and I felt it was important to create a sculpture that was more true to my designs in the vinyl toy world,” Joe explains.

So Mr. Bunny felt like an obvious choice. “It’s the form that works best under the restraints of glass, and a character that represents my work the most.” It also happens to be the very first toy design Joe ever made.

One of Joe's ideas for the collection.
One of Joe's ideas for the collection.
The final sketch of Mr Bunny.
The final sketch of Mr Bunny.
Here, Mr Bunny is being sandblasted, also a handicraft. A template saves the clear parts of the product and the rest is hit by a sand beam in a certain pattern. Almost all the products in the IKEA Art Event are sand blasted.
Here, Mr Bunny is being sandblasted, also a handicraft. A template saves the clear parts of the product and the rest is hit by a sand beam in a certain pattern. Almost all the products in the IKEA Art Event are sand blasted.
The casting process is one of the specialties at the Målerås Glassworks. The glass melt is poured by hand into the mould by skilled glass workers.
The casting process is one of the specialties at the Målerås Glassworks. The glass melt is poured by hand into the mould by skilled glass workers.

Like all of his processes, Joe starts out brainstorming and sketching until he eventually ends up with turnaround sketches of an idea from all angles. “Then, I work side by side with a sculptor who brings it to the 3D world and solves a lot of the technical issues that might come up working with glass,” he says.

The most difficult part of the process was figuring out and rendering the shape and proportions of Mr. Bunny as one solid piece of glass without using undercuts in the form. “But even so, the results turned out better than expected,” Joe says. “Upon adding colour, we decided on painting the back in one transparent shade. This allowed that colour to bounce through the glass in all sorts of beautiful and interesting ways.” Because of this, Mr. Bunny sits best in an open space where light can shine through him. “I’m so impressed and very proud with how it turned out,” Joe smiles.