Bertil Vallien, one of the truly groundbreaking figures in Swedish glass art, was born in Stockholm in 1938. His father was a master painter and pastor of an independent church, his mother a housewife. Vallien was the second of seven children.The gifted young man soon tired of school and took a job as a decorator at PUB, one of the Swedish capital’s largest department stores.
Shortly thereafter, though, he began studying art at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. He graduated at the top of his class in 1961 and was awarded a Royal Foundation grant.
The grant funded travels in the United States and Mexico between 1961 and 1963, giving him the freedom to achieve his first success as a ceramist in California. Together with his wife and fellow Konstfack graduate Ulrica Hydman-Vallien, he then returned to Sweden and moved to the glassmaking region of Småland.
He had been recruited by the legendary glasshouse director Erik Rosén.
Vallien immediately began to work in both glass and metal, and soon began to experiment with glass-casting.