Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Blown In Garfield


DB~ and I journeyed over to Garfield tonight, but not to eat at Salt of the Earth (we ate at Verde, which will be a future post by itself).  Instead we went to take a class at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and make our own garden floats out of blown glass.

We didn't really know what to expect, but DB~ thought that the instructor would do most of the work.  For the most part our guy Will (and his assistant Sam) did most of it, but each student got to use these gnarly pincers to squeeze off the glass ball after their partner was done blowing it on the other end.

There were 6 people there consisting of 3 girl-guy couples, so each couple was their own pairing.  DB~ went first.  Will got a chunk of clear glass out of the 2100 degree oven (seriously...2100 degrees) and rolled the metal pole continuously in his hands so it didn't blob up.  After a quick dip in the colored glass of our choice, you sat down on a bench with the pincers while your partner squatted down and slowly blew into the hollow end of the pole to make the glass ball slowly expand.  (5'ish...I know you're reading this and yes...this is laden with sexual overtones).

The whole time Will is continually rolling the pole between his fingers to keep the glass moving and now blending the colors into swirls.  After that you go to the workbench and gently tap the end of the pole to break off the ball.  A smaller fresh piece of molten glass is placed on top and you smash it down to create a stable base.

The floats were placed in a 500 degree "cool down" oven or else the glass would just spiderweb out if let out in room temperature.  After 12 hours, they're taken out and you can pick it up.

Both of our instructors were cool guys.  Will was from Kansas and was in his mid-20's.  He had been around the country working and studying in Seattle and New Mexico, but said that by far the best facility was the Pittsburgh Glass Center.  It had at least 8 ovens that we saw and was very clean with all sorts of modern-looking equipment.  His assistant Sam has his own website and was in his early 20's.  Sam will be at the Pittsburgh Arts Festival when that opens in June.  His booth will be by the music stage.

DB~ has the bug and will probably cajole one of her friends into taking more in-depth classes in the summer.  After we all made 2 floats, Will and Sam did a demo of how to make a wavy vase (the picture above) and it was cool to watch 2 pros at their craft.  In 10 minutes, they made a vase that I would have bought right there on the spot.

1 comment:

  1. Sooo.....who was the "blower"?

    It was you, wasn't it? I don't need to tell you how femme that is, do I? :)