I wanted to finish up the overview of my glass blowing experience before going on and teaching myself the Star Spangled Banner guitar version… I’m really itching to go play around, so this might be somewhat rushed… anyway, on with it:
I decided that Saturday night would be a good night to go out to an Irish pub and down some tasty brew. I think the downfall was the bit of whiskey that I had before going out… There was a pretty good Irish band that played at the bar that I went to. Anyway, after a bunch of Resurrection beers, I woke up the following day with a handy headache. I had to be at the studio around 9am, so I popped some aspirin, drank a glass of water and rushed out of the door. I made it to the studio right at 9 and Ragan and Gayla went over their shpeal on adding color to the glass. The cool part is that I was able to drink out of one of the tumblers that I made the previous day. Back to the color; basically they have 3 types of color type material that they use. The first is the powdery colored glass that we used on our paperweights. Another option was strips/strings of colored glass. The final type was a solid glass bar (about 2 inches thick) that they shave pieces off (using a diamond saw)… they use those shaved pieces to create solid color for plates, etc. I then asked Ragan how Heineken (not really sure why beer was on my mind) colored their bottles green, and she basically reaffirmed my initial thought that they just add dye/color to the vat of molten glass.
So, I started the day by making a bowl… I was hungry and thought that I’d like a cereal bowl that was big and deep. So I did 3 gathers for the bowl and decided that I should make it a blue/white type bowl. I was still feeling pretty hung-over and thought that it was harder to make this thing, than the day before. But once again Ragan was an excellent help and guided me through the process.
After that, Ragan did a demo on how to make a dish with curvy edges on it. I remember that my Mom had a similar type dish that she used to house a candle and some beads. Anyway, it was really cool. Basically they make a bowl, but instead of finishing the bowl with straight sides, they put it back in the glory hole and spun it. When the bowl was put in the glory hole, they heated it up until the sides of the bowl started flopping (yep… that’s the term). At that point, they spun the rod so that the centripetal force would spread the bowls edges outward. At this point, it looked like it was taking on the shape of a plate. Ragan took the piece out of the glory hole and made the pipe vertical with the glass object on the bottom… she continued to spin the piece while letting it stop and rest occasionally. Each time that she stopped, the walls of the object would curl back down towards the floor. After it got to the desired circumference, it had pretty much cooled enough where she didn’t need to spin it anymore. She was then able to sit down on the bench and complete it. It was really an amazing process to see done.
After seeing that, I chose to do a dish like that. I figure that I can store some candy in it or something. Again, the process was much harder to do in person than just watching, but it was quite an amazing experience. While I did the bowl and candy dish, Michael, one of the other students (took the class with his Wife Natalie) decided to create two carafes. The first carafe that he created was pretty tiny and will probably only hold a half bottle of wine at most. He decided to make it clear, maybe to see the wine? The second one, though, was spectacular. He added some colors to it and made it quite a bit bigger. His process was instead of creating the initial jack line, he pulled the glass to create the stem of his carafe. It took about 3 firings in the glory hole to make the steam as long as he needed. They then created a jack line and put the object back in the glory hole to warm it up to do the base. For the base, Ragan and Gayla decided that it would work out better if he stood on top of the bench and used gravity. So Michael climbed up on the bench and used a wooden paddle, on the floor, to make the base more flat and wide. After that, they stuck the punt (small piece of glass) on the base and transferred the object to the punty. At that point, they used the jacks to widen the mouth/stem of his object. All in all, it turned out really well.
For my final piece, I had a choice of pretty much anything. I’m not sure why I didn’t go with a carafe, but maybe I’ll do one next time. I could have done paperweights and Christmas ornaments if I wanted, but I chose to go with another bowl. I figured that if one broke, I’d still have another to eat out of 🙂 Anyway, I went with red, black and white as my colors for this bowl and it turned out looking quite good, if I do say so myself.
Looking back, this experience was great. I would definitely recommend learning to blow glass to anyone. If you’re in the Baltimore area, look up Corradetti Studio and have some fun. Ragan and Gayla were excellent tutors and I wish them all the luck with their own endeavors. Also, I was told that most of the hobbyist glass blowers use Pyrex as their glass of choice, since you can use a torch to shape it and it is very resilient to temperature changes. I don’t think it requires an annealing oven (used to cool the glass slowly) either. I’ll post pictures of my pieces when I pick them up (they needed to cool in the annealing oven overnight).
If you’re interested in seeing what Ragan is capable of, she has a studio at:
3500 Parkdale Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21211