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.