This past Wednesday I attended my third glass-blowing class. It went well. I won’t ramble on and on about it because, well, it’s probably pretty boring unless you’re actually doing it. But I would like to say a few things.
Dealing with glass is downright frightening. There is absolutely (thus far) nothing therapeutic about sculpting molten glass. I was told “OH! You took pottery! You’ll be great at glass blowing. It’s just like pottery only sideways!” It’s not like pottery. Pottery was relaxing. Pottery had a way of calming me. I could enter a pottery class and zone out for the duration of my time there. Pottery made me stop thinking.
Glass blowing and glass molding requires constant thought. If you stop thinking for one minute the glass will either fall off center and/or hit the ground or you’ll burn the living crap out of yourself. I have lost arm hair, face hair, finger hair, nose hair, and skin. It’s freaking scary. Period.
The ovens there are over 2,000 degrees. The pipes become hot almost immediately. Granted, there are ways to cool them down but it takes time, time spent still holding them.
It’s also unbelievably bright. I often joke that all glass blowers must eventually go blind. I can’t imagine staring at those ovens every day. You’re told to wear protective covering, I have seen some wear sunglasses. I wear regular glasses. Basically, they’re there just to keep debris away from your eyes. You’re also told to wear them to shield them from the heat. Your eyes get pretty dry staring at those ovens for so long.
The final part that kind of bugs me is we’re always sharing blowpipes with other people. And I have a thing with spit—hot, wet, unfamiliar spit. My stomach turns just thinking about it. But I had to get over that one pretty quickly.
Lastly, it’s hard. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is. At least in pottery I had a shitty bowl after a week or two at the wheel. With glass? No way. Not a chance in hell. I ended up with some sort of freakish blob. It looks as if someone with a glass infection sneezed.
If something doesn’t happen soon, I’m thinking I might sign up for another pottery course in the city after I’m finished with glass blowing. Sure, it’s cool. Sure, it’s great to have learned about it. But I’m just not sure I want something so mentally draining every week after putting in a full day at the office.
We’ll see. I might change my tune in the weeks to come. This post will stand as proof.
‘it looks as if someone with a glass infection sneezed.’
you might not make pretty bowls yet, but you paint a pretty clear picture! so lol
and it sounds scary. i’d be wearing a sopping wet leather apron and big road-warrior goggles. you’re very brave.
it sounds awesome(other than the spit). i’m excited for you and wish i had something like that closer to me…..i have a thing for excessively hot and dangerous crafts. one thing i’d like for you to ask the people in your class and the teachers as well is……”how many of them would say they were pyromaniacs as children?” i know i was and now i own all kinds of tools for cutting metal and welding metal. now my new kick is my own private foundry for melting aluminum and bronze. why? who knows! there’s something magical about the powers of nature and man’s harnessing them. pottery is cool, but i always thought the firing process was IMHO the coolest part because of it’s direct relationship to nature’s processes. now working in glass, that has to be the king of the hill, the top dog, the pinacle of cool!!!!!! i’m sure it ain’t fer everyone though.
greg, you would LOVE raku. Have you heard of it? It’s amazing. We used to do it at the studio in D.C. Totally natural and amazing. People used horse hair, human hair, everything you can think of that burns to make organic textures during the firing process. Plus, you come home smelling like a camp fire. And you get to sip hot drinks while there. Those days were some of the best days of my life, hands down.
I think there are a bunch of pottery studios in the ‘Burg
i have some really crappy raku items i did in high school……we used leaves once and almost burned a hedgerow right outside the art room.
jonathan, yes it’s true. western pa, west virginia and eastern ohio have a bunch of pottery history because of the local soil. this area is huge for brick companies in particular. west virginia is more know for Fiesta Ware and the invention(i think) of Pyrex(oven cooking glass/microwaveable glass)