Combining his background training in engineering with his love of sculpture and interest in the history of electricity—specifically those technologies using glass—Wayne not only taught himself the field without any formal glass training but also proceeded to pioneer many new techniques now intrinsic to his medium.
Through exploring and researching every aspect of the subject from glassblowing methods to the design of vacuum equipment, gauges and high voltage electronic power supplies, Wayne began creating and teaching neon art, including a two-semester course in scientific glassblowing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to teaching he wrote extensively for the neon art journal Sign of the Times, contributing over 100 articles and receiving the American Business Press editors’ Award for Technical Journalism. Wayne also published the textbook “Neon Techniques” which remains an industry standard. His work ultimately has ventured beyond conventional neon, advancing the current technologies through utilizing a number of his original patented lighting techniques.
Since 1983, Wayne’s Boston-based company Strattman Design has grown to become a global leader in crafting lighted glass forms and kinetic plasma sculpture for use in museum displays, a range of commercial products and many other creative applications worldwide. A fusion of glass, gas and electricity, many of Strattman’s creations synthesize figments of science fiction with technologies both antique and modern.
Wayne received the first and only PhD in Neon Art and Technology, by published papers from the UK University of Sunderland in 2008, for his many years of advocacy and advancement of this field. With a desire to foster the recognition of lighted glass sculpture—and encourage an ongoing engagement with the medium among emerging artists—Wayne has curated art exhibitions and supported the International Glass Art Society by serving on their Board of Directors and creating and endowing their “Critical Dialogue” lecture series that examines the relationship between today’s glass art practices and their place in the context of both historical and contemporary fine art. Wayne has taught at Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Craft, Corning Museum of Glass, UrbanGlass, Norfolk and the International Festival of Glass in the UK. In 2017 Wayne was honored as the recipient of the International Glass Art Society’s annual Lifetime Membership Award.
Essentially what I do is take electricity and turn it into light using glass as the medium"
– Wayne Strattman
Strattman started out doing Neon Glass, creating everything from Picasso drawings to mathematical representations to protest signs out of neon tubing. His work varies in size and purpose, from fine art pieces to display tubes for Chevrolet in Germany to interactive plasma countertops for bars. Wayne Strattman’s Boston based company, Strattman Design, has been a leader for decades in building lighted museum displays in blown glass, custom sculpture, and innovative lightning products for commerce and industry. A former Glass Art Society (GAS) board member, Strattman started and endowed the Critical Dialogue lecture series, co-endowed the Technology Advancing Glass Program, helped initiate the GAS Board Designated Fund, and created and helped maintain the Annual GAS Neon Show since 1997. Wayne was awarded the Glass Art Society Lifetime Member of the Year in 2017.
Perhaps Strattman’s most famous work is called Luminglas. Star Trek fans will recognize it as the charging station for the Borg. “I was working on creating a plasma TV, and came up with a process for making flat glass that lit up and was kinetic. Luminglas is made out of window glass fused together in a kiln.”
—Diane Sundstrom, curator, Piano Craft Gallery