It seems everywhere I travel there’s “a glass guy” to visit. Wimberley, TX; Cape Cod, MA; Jamestown, VA; they all have glass guys. But while the nice man in Cape Cod gave us an up close and personal view of the process, no one has ever offered to let us actually play with the glass ourselves.
Until now. As soon as that Groupon hit my inbox I knew this was a can’t-miss opportunity. So I rallied the troops, Vikki made the call, and we were set. Actually, that part all happened months ago, but it wasn’t until last week that we actually went to class. (Something about wanting to wait until it was at least 100 degrees outside before hovering over a hot furnace filled with molten glass…or maybe it was just inertia.)
We pulled up to the studio and met our teacher. This is Aaron Tate; he’s a talented guy with all kinds of credentials which you can find on his Web site.
He’s also a fabulous teacher; remarkably calm when faced with three giggly women in a space fraught with potential danger. After signing our lives away and choosing a project each, we watched as Aaron loaded a wad of glass on the end of the tube and showed us how to turn it in the furnace…
Then after cooling off the tube with this nifty shower device…
…we got to roll the glass in the color of our choice.
The chips of color melt at different temps than the base glass, which helps make the end color design. I wanted a polka-dot pattern rather than an opaque hue, so he spread a few chips out on the table and I rolled my glass in that.
There was more rolling in the furnace to be done (it had to pick up an extra layer of clear glass, too).
But the most exciting part was the actual blowing. Being singers, we determined it was akin to a slow 8 to 12 beats at mezzo-forte, but sometimes we had to blow harder or softer as directed. The tricky part was keeping one’s mouth on the tube, as it was rolling back and forth the whole time while Aaron shaped our creations.
Then came the tricky part of removing the piece from the tube.
Afterwards they got a little smoothing of rough edges (a trial by fire, as it were).
And into the oven they went!
They have to cool down gradually to avoid breaking, so Rosemary stopped by a couple of days later to pick up our masterpieces.
Chelsea got stuck at work and couldn’t make it, so we made a vase for her, too.
I couldn’t imagine how my ball of glass was going to turn into a bowl, but it turns out all you have to do is—at the critical moment—breathe in instead of blow out. I couldn’t see it from my vantage point, but apparently the middle caved in on itself and presto! One bowl, coming right up.
Glass blowing was tons of fun; I highly recommend it. Now I just have to find the perfect spot for my lovely new bowl…