My daughter and I had a wonderful experience taking a glass blowing class. Blown glass is an art developed around 300 B.C. in the Middle East. It consists of using air to blow hot molten glass into it’s form. The end product is gorgeous.
We were able to view other students through an open window between the glass blowing area and the gallery. We watched some ladies make glass globes and got a feel of what the experience was going to be like.
When the time came for our turn the two instructors called us back into the kiln area and had us put on safety glasses. Next we were instructed on the variety of colors and patterns we could use.
First the instructor helped me place a long steel rod into a blazing 2,500+ Fahrenheit furnace and pulled forth a glob of molten glowing glass. Once we had our glass, we needed to add the color. With the instructors assistance we dipped the glass into two separate tin pie pans with powdered metal oxides for color.
Next we put the glass back in a furnace while I was instructed to keep the glass moving rotating as it is fired in the oven. The instructor then gently rolled the glass across what is called a marver, a surface that gently cools and shapes the glass.
Once the firing process was completed. The rod was removed. The instructor injected an initial burst of air through the rod to create a bubble called a parison. At that point a tube was placed on the end of the rod and I was instructed to blow slowly into the tube as the instructor carefully rotated and shaped the ball. It was then refired in the furnace and blown a little bigger. Once the shaping was complete the glass was cut with a long tong like scissor tool called jacks.
My Christmas ball was nearly complete. The instructor took it over to the work table where it was carefully placed and the rod gently tapped until the glass fell free. The instructor took another molten bead of glass from the furnace and before I knew it she had shaped into a swooping loop that provided the perfect addition for stringing a ribbon.
The final step was placing the ornament in the annealer, an oven that reduces heat at a controlled rate. Grace then completed her ornament a blue green swirl. We returned a few days later to pick up our treasurers.
The class was easy and fun. The instructors are very helpful and do much of the hard part for you. This is a great holiday activity or a fabulous way to spend a lazy weekend day.
The Schack Art Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promote and celebrate the arts for the enhancement of community life. Check out glass blowing and other art classes at schack.org