Jan Kocián was captivated by glass from the moment he watched a glowing vessel emerge from a blazing kiln. In his native Czech Republic, Jan achieved excellence with distinction in the three-year full-time Diploma of Glassblowing at Valašské Meziričí Glassblowing Technical Institute. He further advanced himself by completing a two-year part time Postgraduate Diploma while working full time. For the next six years Jan further developed his skills in various European Studios.
Master Czech glassblower Petr Novotny has been a significant influence in Jan's career. The advice and knowledge that Petr imparted has inspired and guided Jan, and he has matured into a gifted glassblower himself.
Jan never set out to become an artist but loves working with glass as a craftsman and by good fortune has the opportunity to work as an artist. He likes to push the boundaries into the edge of possibilities. Jan’s dedication and passion is visible in his works which are constantly evolving as he continues to progress.
Jan uses a variety of techniques, tools, and affects – striving to enhance the optical interaction between glass and light. Jan also employs a steam stick (a method developed in Venice 600 years ago) as an alternative and challenging technique for blowing glass. Purpose made tools sculpt the molten glass, cutting and grinding further accentuates the work. Additional texture is created by adding glass to the surface of some of his distinctive work.
Jan Kocián's first experience of New Zealand was as a traveller. As he backpacked around the country, something about New Zealand and Coromandel in particular, got under his skin. He decided to stay and set up a studio in Coromandel. Jan set to work at Driving Creek Railway in what was initially a steam engine museum. Starting from scratch, he dismantled a disused boiler brick by brick and built a glass furnace that he cleverly designed himself.
The furnace burned recycled fuels and channelled exhaust heat through an annealing kiln, to slowly cool the glass pieces – a century old sustainable engineering concept. Having embraced the can-do kiwi ethos, Jan made good use of the adjacent railway engineering facilities to make most of his specialist tools and equipment by hand.
These days, Jan still lives in Coromandel Town with his family and continues to blow glass but he hires studios and can be seen at NZ Glassworks in Whanganui on lucky occasions. Jan still finishes the glass pieces in his hometown of Coromandel.