Sunday, October 2, 2016

Blowin' Fish

I have always found glass work to be fascinating. I love watching folks do lampwork to make beads, or small glass animals. I can watch an artisan crafting an intricate hand blown object for hours. There is something very mesmerizing about watching glass flow. We Dreamers have visited a number of glass making studios over the years. I wrote about an experience this spring in Asheville.  So, of course we had to watch glass being made while we were at the Corning Glass Museum. Not only that, we had the chance to try our hands at lampwork.

Mr. Dreamy chose to make a slug. Here our instructor is demonstrating how he should hold the glass rods.

Mr. Dreamy has made the body of the slug and is adding dots of color.

I made a pumpkin pendant. 

Visitors could also make blown glass objects. Although we thought about choosing one of those, I was glad that we didn't. It seems that the actual hands-on part of creating a blown ornament was simply blowing on the blowpipe, or as they say, staying on the cool end of the stick. I suppose that there could be a liability problem since the glass is between 1600 and 1900 degrees fahrenheit!

So, instead of blowing our own ornament we went to a demonstration in the amphitheater. The room is perfect for demonstrations. We were seated in stadium style seating, and there were 4 large flat screen displays that gave spectators an up-close look.  They even had a camera in the glory hole, the oven where the glass blower periodically warms up the glass object. 

The artist was making a glass fish.

She began by creating a hollow, round ball. Then, using cork paddles, the ball was flattened. Additional glass blobs were added and shaped to make the tail, fins, eyes and the lips. Here's a shot of the flat screen display showing the artist clipping more glass onto the fish. I think this was where the glass for the eyes was added.

Here's what it looked like from my seat. 

The artist works hand-in-hand with another glass blower. Sometimes the assistant is ready, without any communication, to perform the next step. Other times the two artists converse about next steps. 

The fish in the  lower right corner of the picture above is important to this story. The fish was created in a previous demonstration.  Once a glass object is completed it must spend time in an annealing oven so that it can cool down slowly and the molecules can realign. Therefore, as our artist completed making her fish it was whisked away to the annealing oven. But.... some other artist had created the fish on display in a previous demonstration. Now, it is on display in my house! One of the artists suggested that they give away a piece of glass. To make a long story short, I won the piece of glass!! Woohoo! What fun and now I have a great souvenir from the Corning Glass Museum.

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