Oiva Toikka: Master of Glass and Design, hand-blown glass art. Thrilling, delightful objects to grace one's shelf or table and to lift one's spirits each time one beholds them!
Dateline: Christmas, 2007
My George was not up to shopping for my gift.
He had always taken much time to find just the right gift or gifts.
But that year, his last Christmas, his memory and some of his other faculties failed to allow him to go out on his own to shop - or even to know what to shop for. So his son, George, Jr. took him. They asked me to make a list of things I would like. I'd never liked to make a list for someone to buy me gifts. I love the surprise and that they're "from the heart" of the giver. But, of course, this time - was an exception. I made a list.
I included a number of things so it would simplify the shopping expedition - the first time George Jr. had really experienced the degree of his Dad's infirmity, having only visited him here at our house on occasions or at their house on other occasions. So I wanted to make it as convenient as possible for them to find something, with all the considerations involved in gift-getting and had five or six items.
Of course, I only thought they'd get one or two things. A couple of the most special things I hoped for were a pretty vase for the flowers I love to arrange and a Toikka bird! George Jr's wife, Lucy, collected these lovely birds and I really would love one and it was the kind of thing George would have thought of if he had been able to!
But on Christmas I was totally surpised - they'd gotten EVERYTHING on the list and the items were still a surprise! For instance the kind of vase was totally unordinary and the Toikka bird was special, but even more amazing - they got me the book about the art and the artist - and not just one of the ordinary ones! There were a few of them at the museum store where they found the birds in which the artist had inscribed his autograph! They got Lucy a book too, for us to give her, but hers wasn't autographed. I didn't actually SEE the books, though! George Jr. left a note for me to know there was a package his Dad had. I saw no such package.
By a freak of fate, the books were misplaced and I didn't find them in the back of George's closet till after George's death. So you can imagine how much I treasure it. You see, George Jr. took all the other gifts with him to wrap for me, but let his Dad bring in the bag with the books. My George knew my book shouldn't be seen by me before Christmas, so he secreted it away - but immediately forgot all about buying it or having it, much less where he had hidden it! I only knew about the existence of another package through George Jr. who later explained about the autograph copy being for me and the other for Lucy. I gave Lucy the one they'd gotten for her for her next birthday after I found the copies, which was 9 months after my George had died. I was delighted they'd gotten the one for Lucy and it meant much to me that my George had opted to get an autographed one for me. So who is this marvelous artist? Let me tell you, briefly.
Professor Oiva Toikka (born 1931) is one of Finlands most noted glass designers and artists. His relationship with his his material is as varied as the pieces which always have an unprejudiced viewpoint. He's best known from the birds of the Nuutajarvi Glass Factory, which has produced these lovely thigns for over 30 years.
But over his long career, Oiva Toikka has also done much more: many objects and useful glassware that have been designed for mass production, playful fantasy object and unique pieces of glass art. The artist's imagination is vast and his expertise has matched his vision.
Toikka has worked as an artist and a designer as well as designing stage settings and costumes for operas and plays. He's earned numerous awards for his work.
It's less well known that he originally studied ceramics and has worked with the same company for 50 years! However, between 1960 and 1963, he had worked as a teacher in Lapland, until he applied for a job as a designer at the Nuutajärvi glassworks.
In addition to glass and ceramics, Toikka’s career has covered many other areas as well.