LOCATION: Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. Norfolk, VA.
The Chrysler Museum has always had a glass studio that was open for demonstrations, but this year they decided to open it up for a beginner class as well. As soon as I found out about it, I signed up immediately. Glassblowing has always fascinated me and I was very eager to try it out.
The class was small, about 6 of us and we were told to pick out two colors for our piece which would be a circular paperweight. I, of course picked pink and purple for my colors. First we used a long steel pipe and gathered hot liquid glass from the furnace through, what they called, a glory hole.
To gather the glass you slowly turn the pipe in a clockwise motion. Stopping the motion at any point would cause the glass to welt downward, so a constant turning motion was very important. Once the glass is on the pipe you take it to the steel table and round it out and place it in the colors.
You return it to the glory hole for a few seconds to heat it up then you can blow into the pipe to create a bubble. After the bubble forms, you can use large tweezers to shape the piece in different directions.
Once the piece is shaped, you return it to the glory hole to collect more glass which would be the outside of your piece. While still turning the pipe, you slowly shape the piece with this wooden cap that has been soaking in cold water.
This makes the paperweight circular. Once the piece is done being shaped, the instructor taps the glass off the pipe and into heat proof gloves and takes it away to cure for a few days.
Overall, the experience was lot of fun and really interesting to learn. It made me realize just how hard it is to shape a piece exactly how you want and I really appreciate the intricate work that is done in some items at stores. I’m also very happy with how my colors turned out.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: $100 was pretty steep for a beginner class, but the art of doing the glass blowing was a lot of fun. I would definitely like to do that again for the right price.
HOW TO DO THIS:
Chrysler Museum Glass Studio offers a range of classes. For Beginner Glass Blowing, it was 2 hours long for $100. Classes are small and fill up fast. http://www.chrysler.org/about-the-museum/glass-studio/