Thursday, June 09, 2011

Glass Blowing Class

Not long ago, we had the opportunity to take a 4-hour glass class thanks to GroupOn. The class was offered at the Revere Glass School in Berkeley from 6-10pm. Just so you all know, glass blowing was always on my list of something to try out, so I'm really glad I finally got the chance to experience the magic of playing with fire and glass.

The class was small. There were only 5 of us and the instructor, who has been working with glass for quite a number of years. He was really chill, and you could tell that he was definitely into the art of glass.

Anyway, we started off just playing around with the glass and the flames to get a feel for how the glass interacts with the heat. But, very quickly we progressed from learning to control the glass through constant steady rotation to creating marbles.

Of course, the early attempts at making marbles were pathetic. The marbles looked more like oddly shaped eggs than spheres. But, in time, we got the hang of it and moved on to making pendants including some color accenting. We also learned how to create a loop to hold the string.

Here's one of my better pendants.

As you can see from the image, I experimented with trying to make a clam shell-like form. I thought it looked pretty cool in the end, so I was satisfied with my creation.

After making a couple pendants and fumbling around, we moved on to creating a mini sculpture. I opted to create a turtle, which was suggested for its simplicity. I added some color to it, and I thought it ended up really nice. Here's the glass turtle I created.

Finally, we worked up to actual glass blowing. During this part of the class, we learned how to blow glass bubbles. It's a lot more difficult than you would think. The glass has to be heated quite uniformly, otherwise only the hotter parts would expand out. This means that if the glass were unevenly heated, you'd get weird bulges where you were expecting more regular spherical bubbles.

Anyway, here's some weird hollow ornamental glass piece I made. Purely by accident, I wound up creating a bubble within the bubble (you should be able to make it out in the image below). Apparently, if certain temperatures are achieved, you can cause air temperature changes to create an effective vacuum, ultimately sucking in other glass parts.

If it's not obvious by now, I will say that I had a wonderful experience. I strongly recommend that anyone who has even the slightest bit of curiosity about glass blowing take a class.