I have always had a fascination with glass studios. I still remember visiting the studio at Simon Pearce in Vermont and day-dreaming about dropping out of grad school to train as an apprentice glassblower. The road not taken…
(I think if I were going to dream about this now, I would get a little more global and dream of Murano, which I have (sadly) never visited).
Anyway, not long ago there was a Groupon to take a one-hour class at East Side Glass Studio. I nabbed it as an early holiday present for my beau (and for myself, obviously) and piqued his interest by describing the afternoon as a “super secret learning experience”. I even managed to keep the secret until the night before, when I deliberately revealed it so he could share in my anticipation about the class. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was fantastic! Leigh and Shara have figured out the perfect formula of practical information (peppered with levity) and hands-on experience for students. First they gave us an overview of the equipment in the room and how the process would work, and then they guided us individually as we made a piece to take home later. Below are photos to show highlights (taken with my beau’s iPhone, as I forgot my camera…so image quality leaves a little to be desired).
This is the crucible furnace where the glass lives in molten form and is “gathered” on a pipe to work with. Leigh did our gathering for us.
Traipsed back to the Glory Hole to get that all melded together, then Leigh used the metal table to take some of the excess glass off the pipe.
Leigh blew the starter “bubble” (learning to do this perfectly can take hours all by itself) for us, then sat down at the bench. This is the bench, with assorted tools. They have been the same for centuries.
Leigh rolled the pipe and controlled the growth of the piece while we blew into the pipe to blow the glass into a shape.
I made a round ornament, but my beau elected to make a small glass instead. This is how you make sure the bottom is flat enough to sit on a table…first use the metal head of the main tool, then use a wooden paddle to smooth and finish it off.
Once the pieces were done, they put them into the “annealer”, which is a storage unit that gradually brings the temperature of the glass down to room temp.
This takes several hours, so they noted down details about everyone’s piece and we made plans to pick it up the following week (or in my case, the following, following week…) I was joking that if my ornament wasn’t perfect in its roundness, it’s probably because I wound up with Leslie’s (since they were quite similar in color scheme).
I went and picked up the pieces earlier this week, and they look awesome!
Here is my ornament.
If you’ve ever been glass-curious or just want to make something beautiful for yourself or as a present for someone else, definitely take a class at East Side Glass Studio!