Eva Englund was a designer and artist who worked in the Swedish glass industry from 1964-1990, after which she became an independent glass artist. She further developed the advanced Graal glass technique.
Eva Englund was born in Stockholm in 1937. She trained at Konstfack (college of art and design). She initially entered the advertising department in 1959 but changed to the ceramics department where she remained from 1962-1964. She briefly studied overseas and at the Capellagården ceramics workshop on Öland. Her decision to focus on glass came about after she was overwhelmed by a 1963 exhibition of the designer Ingeborg Lundin held at Orrefors glassworks. Her exposure to Lundin’s ethereal glass art left such an impression on her that Eva Englund decided to change her focus from ceramics to glass. In 1964 she was appointed as successor to Göran and Ann Wärff as artistic contributor to Pukeberg Glasbruk.
During the nine years she spent at Pukeberg Eva Englund explored all the artistic possibilities glass offered, typical of the experimental spirit which was all the rage at the time. She also designed some tableware and utility glassware, but this did not engender any interest from the company directors. In 1973 Eva Englund resigned from her job and moved back to Stockholm in order to return to working with ceramics, but she was very quickly headhunted by Orrefors Glasbruk to work for them. In 1974 Eva Englund was given a permanent post there.
In her role as artistic contributor to Orrefors Glasbruk she created drinkware as well as advanced artistic glassware. Her drinkware often includes decorative hand-painted floral and foliage designs, as seen on the popular tableware called Maja, from 1977, and Linneá, from 1981, but the emphasis of her output lay in advanced Graal glass.
Eva Englund had become interested in the Graal glass technique (specific to Orrefors since 1916) at an early stage. The decorative element was created using multi-coloured glass, which was then encased in a thin layer of transparent glass. Eva Englund’s earliest work in Graal glass comprised vases, bowls, and dishes with natural motifs, such as wildflowers and plants. Her imagery also included mythical figures and supernatural figures. In collaboration with Christina Lundh, a young copper-engraver, Eva Englund developed a new method of working with the complex Graal techniques. She would carve out motifs in a single so-called substance instead of blasting or etching the decoration out of various colour shades. Working with an engraver allowed her to use thin sheets of coloured glass, resulting in various light, shadow, and shading effects.
Eva Englund began to draw human faces on her Graal items in the mid-1980s. These were often nightmarish apparitions and demons whose grotesque features appeared through the blown glass. She quickly became more freestyle in both expression and her use of lines. She depicted people she knew and the romantic interactions between a woman and a man. Sometimes she would use seven or eight shades of colours in the same work, and her distorted dark-coloured figures would glow in the depths of the glass. Eva Englund’s Graal glassware portraying faces and erotic imagery became highly collectable items. Some people only collected her glasses decorated with faces and she found it difficult to meet the heavy demand for new designs.
In 1988 Eva Englund began a new phase of abstract art where she created richly-coloured zigzag designs, taking inspiration from Aztec artwork. She was actively looking for new forms of expression and wanted to spend a year just to experiment. Thus she resigned from Orrefors Glasbruk in 1990 and set up her own company called Muraya AB, using the Polynesian word for wind in her company name. Although she was still producing artistic glass using the Graal technique she was now working independently, along with Wilke Adolfsson, a glass-blower, and Dorothy Konnberg, an engraver.
Eva Englund hired a residential studio at Pukeberg Glasbruk and created the series called Malakit, comprising bowls and dishes in a new kind of centrifugal green opaque glass which became very popular. This was followed up with an equally popular blue version called Indigo.
Eva Englund’s period as an independent company owner coincided with the deepest recession Sweden had experienced since the Second World War. She was also struck with a severe illness at this time, although it did not stop her from working. During the final years of her life Eva Englund acquired a farm on Väddö in northern Roslagen and settled there. She continued to experiment with glass as an artistic tool, particularly with opal glass. This milky, iridescent type of glassware formed was displayed at her final exhibition in Stockholm in the spring of 1998. A few months later, that autumn, Eva Englund died at the age of 61. She is buried at the Norra cemetery in Solna.