In one of my Geekend updates, I mentioned we'd gone for a glass-making experience at a local studio, but I only gave you a couple teaser photos. It's time to tell the whole story!
This is one of the best Groupons I've gotten! Now, when I signed up for this "studio" glass-making experience at Janke Studios, I had a certain picture in my head. "Studio" conjured up visions of us sitting at stylish heavy wood tables, on high stools, with our cute little Bunsen burner things in front of us, goggles on, as we worked with teensy glass blobs. You know, like at the glass blowers' shop at Disney.
I was not prepared for a 2,000 degree F (1100 C) furnace and 6 foot (2 meter) blow pipes!
It was a small class; just us and one other couple. It would be impossible to have more in the class! We started with a glass (well, a cup ;) of wine and some appetizers from a nearby restaurant. Then, we got a whirlwind bit of instructions thrown at us! Seriously, it was a lot of information to take in, but our instructor was with us every step of the way, and everyone did fine.
First, we made "flowers". I am quoting the word "flowers" because they looked more or less like flowers...some more, some less. =) The first step was to lay out different colors of frits (glass chips) in a circle. Here you can see some of our creations ready to go on the long table with the little gravy boats full of different-colored frits...
The next step was for our instructor to get some clear, molten glass out of the big furnace (the big, black cube in the top picture up there) on a pipe, and plop it down on top of our frits.
The next step was to pinch all around the disc with the jack (that's those giant tweezers I'm holding). You'd occasionally need to dip the jack in water (where it made a satisfying little tsss! sound) to keep it cooler than the glass so it wouldn't stick.
Here the instructor is standing behind a heat shield while she warms up my "flower" in a smaller furnace before the second step. Since it was about 85 degrees F (about 30 C) outside, I wasn't sad I had the sandals on and couldn't perform this step!
Now for step 2 of "flower" making: pulling out the stem. I think we all misunderstood this step a bit; we thought we were supposed to be making the flower more bell-shaped as opposed to flat. But really, you have to pull the heck out of the thing to make the stem happen!
At the point, it's cool enough to come off the pipe...a simple "whack" on the side of the table, and it pops right off! Since the pipe is far cooler than the glass, the glass "wants" to come off the pipe, so it breaks right off. Then the flower goes in the annealing oven, which cycles down from 2000 F slowly so the glass hardens and does not crack.
After our "flowers" were done, our instructor explained our next project: paperweights (or Art Glass Orbs, as Michael calls them =). She got some more glass on the pipe, then dipped it into one or two colors of frits at our direction...
And here's Michael doing his thing.
Next, the instructor got a giant glob of clear glass on the pipe to cover what we'd done, and shaped it a bit on the table.
Our part was to use these wooden scoops, which had been soaking in water, to help form it into a round shape. There were different sizes of scoops, but thankfully our instructor told us which number to use.
And here are the finished products!
And here are the Art Glass Orbs. =)
I like this last shot of mine because it shows the part I worked so hard to twist around and around!
We were done with the class in just two hours!
Hope you enjoyed the blow-by-blow of our glass-making class!
|Glass-making classes are very fun, and even better, I completely failed to injure myself!|