Posts Tagged ‘glassblowing’

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.)
Marrs Art Glass sign
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.

Aaron at work

Aaron Tate, our instructor

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…
furnace view

It’s mighty hot.

Then after cooling off the tube with this nifty shower device…
tube shower
…we got to roll the glass in the color of our choice.
adding colormore color
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.
my bowl in progress
There was more rolling in the furnace to be done (it had to pick up an extra layer of clear glass, too).
Vikki at furnace
Rosemary at furnace

Steady, even turning is needed

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.
Vikki blowingRosemary blowing
Me blowing

Sadly, it is impossible to look graceful doing this.

Glass in progress
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).
Vikki's vase getting smoothed
And into the oven they went!
finished pieces in oven
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.
Rosemary's vase

Rosemary’s vase

Vikki’s vase

Chelsea’s vase

My bowl!

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…

Read Full Post »

So . . . in what I can only describe as a shocking lack of judgment and good taste, Kerri did not win the Spar for the Spurtle. Some woman from California won with a recipe for something called Italian Pinhead Torta. I’m sure it’s delicious and all, and I hope she beats the kilts off the Scots in October, but I am sad to report there will be no blogging from Scotland to be found here this year. (I’m only thinking of you, my readers–you’d have loved Scotland.)

But never mind! Life goes on and soon we’ll have a report from Kerri about her cook off experience, a new/old recipe for enchiladas (and photos from the enchilada class), and stories from my adventure in glass-blowing. Not to mention cows. (Don’t ask. I told you not to mention them.)

Plus, Julia Child’s 100th birthday is this Wednesday, August 15. There’s still time to plan a proper celebration, even if it’s just cooking with abandon.

Onward and upward, my friends!

Read Full Post »

Our flight didn’t leave until 5:30-ish, so we spent our last day on Cape Cod back in Sandwich, MA. There were several reasons for this…for one, it’s really lovely.

Shop in Sandwich, MA

Shop in Sandwich, MA

This is a private residence! We weren’t lucky enough to be invited inside.
old church, now house

One reason we had to come back to town was to pick up a platter Vikki had her eye on. Thank goodness she bought it, otherwise I would have had to. I neglected to get a pic, but it’s from this place: http://www.musewarepottery.com/ and it says “Some people go to their graves with their music unsung.” (Not us!)

Another reason was to visit Pairpoint Glass again; I’d been collecting sun catchers from our stops and needed to fill in some gaps. Our “glass guy” recognized us from our previous visit at the beginning of our trip, so we had a fun time catching up with him.

We hoped to have lunch at the Abbey bistro, but they weren’t serving that day.

Abbey in Sandwich, MA

It's a hotel, too!

(So…one church is now a house, one is a hotel/bistro…doesn’t anyone actually attend church in Sandwich?)

We were directed next door to the Painted Lady, a Victorian home turned restaurant. We ate on the verandah out front.
Painted Lady sign, Sandwich, MA

Painted Lady, Sandwich, MA

We ate at the table on the porch on the left

The food was rather fabulous. Rosemary & I had the fish & chips, which was skate in a wonderful cornmeal batter with perfectly crispy French fries. Er…if you’re from the South, do not order the iced tea there. They don’t get it. They tried, but . . . no.

Fish & chips from Painted Lady


When on vacation, always visit the local library. You never know what you’ll find (like the boat inside Provincetown’s library). In the Sandwich library, we found a beautiful glass pitcher donated by a local artist. The librarian gave us directions, so after lunch we went to visit the McDermott Glass Studio.

We were greeted by large, friendly dogs and Mr. McDermott himself, who showed us around his gallery. The yard was filled with seconds from the studio, which made for fabulous yard art. (I forgot to ask, but apparently they don’t get the same kind of hail storms we do in North Texas.)

The studio is in the back yard, where Mrs. McDermott and two apprentices were hard at work. (Sweet story: they met at a glass class; she didn’t speak English; he didn’t speak Japanese. They met periodically over the years before finally getting married. They both do phenomenal work. Next trip we’re saving up to shop here first.)

Along with the personal tour we got an up-close look at the artists at work:


He's making a drinking glass

glassmaker at work

Straightening the edge

glassmakers at work

More glasses in progress

glassmakers at work

Removing the glass from the pipe

Other than the bone-melting heat (glass melts at something like 3,000 degrees) we could have stayed a lot longer. But we had a plane to catch, so we said goodbye to the glassblowers and headed home. Rosemary scored one final piece of cranberry glass for her collection, we made friends with another glass guy, and a good time was had by all.

All good things much come to an end, and so it was with our Cape Cod vacation. Although…there was one more moment of interest before we got home. But that’s a story for another day.

Read Full Post »