Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 25: Glass firing class at Diablo

Cost: $75
Difficulty: 4
Time: 3 hours

During the month, someone suggested "glass blowing." Google found a glass blowing school in Boston, Diablo, which had introductory classes / wine-tasting on Friday nights.

In this class we learned the basics of glass making and each made a glass paperweight, which was accomplished by:

  1. Gathering a small blob of molten glass around the end of a long metal pipe, about twice the size of a fist.
  2. Pressing the glass into heaps of small colored glass pebbles which partially melted on contact with the blob.
  3. While turning the rod to keep the glass together, teasing the glass with a pair of tongs to create interesting patterns. 
  4. Once the pattern was created, pinching the glass to create a neckline, then breaking the glass from the rod at the neckline.
  5. Remelting the break point and flattening it to create the bottom of the paperweight. 
  6. Leaving the paperweight in an oven to cool.
Step 6 seems strange. To demonstrate its purpose, our instructor left a glass blob to cool on the floor in one corner of the room. A few minutes later it exploded as the uneven cooling created stress fractures throughout the glass. Slowly cooling in an over allowed the stress to be released gradually.

To keep the glass hot while working on it, we would periodically reheat it in a crucible they called a "glory hole." Please trust me that's what it's called and do not Google that term.

Working with molten glass is slightly unnerving. Your hands are less than a foot from molten glass that's somewhere north of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. That glass isn't orange, it's glowing.

This is what it looked like after cooling. It's a slightly asymmetric teardrop and I love it.

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