Friday, June 17, 2016

Glassblowing $$$ 🎓 💪💪💪

Glassblowing is remarkably easy.  It is a bit expensive - to do it you need three large ovens - one to hold the molten glass (the furnace), another to heat up the item you are currently working on (the glory hole - and don't confuse this one with other kind :D) and an annealer to slowly cool your finished piece without cracking it into a million pieces.  The furnace is usually kept on for extended periods of time (weeks), the annealer is constantly being cycled on/off every day or so, but the glory hole can be turned on only when you need it.

Then you need a whole bunch of other tools - mostly metal, though a few wooden items.  Pipes to blow bubbles, punty's to hold pieces while they are being worked on, giant scissors and tweezers, wooden molds (keep them wet so they don't ignite), benches to sit on and iron tables to work the molten glass on. 

Finally, as we are using temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, you need a teacher for safety and for many things you want an assistant.   So basically you can't just decide to do it on your own, you need a studio.  

It requires short bursts of physical effort, and you need to be strong to move things around. Also, the heat can take a toll on your body.  But unlike dance, it isn't an effective form of exercise.

But the good news is that it is pretty easy to come away with something GORGEOUS.  If you pick nice colors, you get a pretty piece.  The hallmarks of an expert is thin glass, rather than than pretty glass - so don't be surprised if your first glass cup is more like a mug than a delicate piece of whimsy.  If you want a handle, that takes more training.

You can take a beginner class for less than $300 and come away with a nice, hand made glass paperweight full of whatever pretty colors you choose.   For more money you can learn to make bowls, goblets, vases, pitchers, Christmas ornaments, etc.  Glass pumpkins are pretty easy to do. 

Gender wise it again is surprisingly equal.  Lots of women and men.  It tends to be a slightly younger crowd (takes a lot of physical effort), but there are some older people doing it.  Schools will accept teenagers, often with a discount, but it still is not cheap.

I would suggest wearing  clothing that protects your bear skin.  The radiant heat is high, and sometimes bits of hot glass will drip - you don't want that on your toes.

Classes tend to be small - no more than about 8 people at the maximum, and quite often it is 1 teacher and two or three students.  Often you need two people to make a piece - we are talking hot glass and you can't just put it down to go get a tool or something.  The glass 'remembers' everything you do to it, and time is very important - wait too long and it cools down too much.  

There are a lot of other glass related artistry usually taught in the same place where the teach glass blowing.  Things like slumping, neon signs, 'flame work' (small pieces - think jewelry sized), kiln work, cold working of the glass (filing away rough parts, etc.).

There are several good places to learn glassblowing in Brooklyn.  Look here: 

Scanlanglass is a smaller, one artist place and where I took my first lesson.  Urban glass is huge with a lot of great classes.

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