Sunday, April 22, 2012

Having a Blast and Cutting Loose!-COA Spring Term Weeks 3/4.

Blowing. Blasting. Cutting.
 The techniques just keep coming!
 After 1 month together in the studio, the class has reached the sweet spot. The gooey center of the class where the baby steps have been taken and we can set our sights on our creative goals. Last week we began to add cold working techniques to the mix. 
First up, Sand Blasting. 
Get some bottles.
Apply a resist.
Fire up the blasting cabinet and see what happens!

Next, cutting.We fired up the glass bandsaw and deconstructed some bottles. 

And of course everyone has been developing their blowing skills. In week 4, everyone learned how to bring a punty.

If we needed any more proof that this is a great group of students, they provided it for us last week by baking Linda a birthday cake!

For more photos and info check out our FB page.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blowing Bubbles

The second lab day in the studio was a day spent building the foundation of basic skills related to blowing dangerous sticky hot molten glass. Keeping the long steel blow pipe turning while trying to pirouette across the studio and into the glass blowing bench, where one must pick up strange tools and deftly shape the 2000 degree dripping substance is .... well,... just plain exhilarating!!
Glass blowing is kind of exciting and challenging like a sport. However it's governance by more Venusian principles of beauty, makes it seem equally like a dance. Couple this with the opportunity to make split second creative decisions about shape and the experience as artist/artisan send the spirit soaring. The desire to pick up the blow pipe to try it again and again feels something like the addictive quality of a good video game. "Oh that was fun now let me try it again, try to make another shape, try another gentle wrangling of that bubbly membrane of light...!"
At this point in the process of teaching beginning glass blowing, I often remind the students that at this early stage, we are not making glass, we are making Glassblowers. That their will is secondary to the techniques we are practicing. Soon, very soon however this will change & the movements will become more confident. Once safety has been established, we can expect the arrival of the muse surfing in upon a flood of ideas and waves of glass!

Monday, April 2, 2012

College of the Atlantic-beginning glass blowing class.

This Saturday marked the first of day of hot shop time for the courageous College of the Atlantic students in class "478I-an Introduction to Glassblowing and Sculptural Expression". COA is a renowned environmental liberal arts college. Their motto "Life Changing. World Changing.". It is a place for folks who want to re-imagine the world as a much better place and to do all they can to make it happen. The favorite method of learning is hands on!
I find it an honor to teach the human ecologists who were able to sign up for our class. The wait list was heartbreakingly long, and I wish I could get everyone of the students willing to work with glass a chance to do so.
Our studio is located in a large reworked warehouse, the abundant heat we generate from working with the glass is funneled into other parts of the building and manages to almost completely heat our living quarters located on the third floor. I like to think this is an environmental innovation that other kiln and furnace using artisans may find themselves doing in the future. Our approach is a passive reuse of the energy. I like to imagine that one day we might be able to engineer something even more exciting. Working on the campus of COA is so encouraging for this type of dreaming! Oh but I digress...
The first studio class is fundamental. We move through the space, twirling a long steel rod on tender fingertips. We walk up to 2000 degree fiery portals and peer inside. We place the end of the rods and blowpipes in to a glowing crucible to extract a blinding gather of molten goo.
We slow our racing hearts when it all seems too strange and dangerous.
Then we eat cookies and fruit, laugh, pet a small creature who is perhaps even more fragile than we are...
This orientation to the studio is all about safety, and the first attempts at working with the glass are empowering, exciting, inspirational and unlike anything else.
Every moment is filled with soooo much information.
Hands on? oh YES!