Sunday, November 27, 2011

Glass Blowing at J & C Glass Studio

Rachel had mentioned a while ago that she was interested in glass blowing and when we found a Groupon for an "experience" at a local studio it seemed like a great idea.

The Groupon was good for either pumpkin or ornament making day workshops or just for $50 worth of merchandise -- which, of course, wouldn't be nearly as fun -- at J and C Glass Studio. From the Groupon we both thought that the studio was in Little Italy, as it turns out the gallery is in Little Italy but the actual studio is in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood (in the same building as Fourth Wall Productions had a short-lived theatre space)

We decided to book the Ornament Making class and upon arriving at the studio this afternoon there were two things that immediately struck us: First the hospitality of the studio staff and second the intense heat. This was certainly somewhere to be on a cold winter day. The class consisted of two instructors and 8 students, with each student guided through the process of making two ornaments.

First, we heated our blowpipes, and once hot (with my body about a yard from the furnace it felt like my wrist was on fire) we dipped in molten glass to pick up a glob. From this point on, spinning the pipe became important to keep the liquid glass on the blowpipe from drooping.

Rolling in the color of your choice (I did red and green, Rachel did green and blue) you then returned to the furnace to melt the color in. Coming out of the furnace the glass is rolled out into a oblong pellet about the size of a roll of quarters.

The first step requires an amazing amount of human-provided air pressure to form an air bubble in the ornament while rolling the blow stick back and forth across the rails. A trip back to the furnace to soften the glass a bit and some light air pressure with a bit of forming assistance from the J&C staff brings the ornament to its final shape.

The ornament, now a definite object, is cut free from the blow stick and a final blob of glass added and formed over to form a hook and the ornament is done -- the only step remaining is to be annealed which requires an overnight stay in their ovens.

Rachel and I will return soon to pick up our ornaments -- but it was quite the fun (if a bit sweaty) experience.

J and C also had a sampling of glass products for sale at very reasonable prices -- Rachel picked up a paperweight for $5 and I found a glass flower (to give purpose to a vase I picked up on one of my last visits to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City) for only $10. Still, there were a collection of glass vessels with faces whose expressions were just too cute. I'm particularly enamored by one green one with a beret and bow tie -- but it was not priced, and I'm a little hesitant to email the artist for price (under the heading of "if you have to ask...")


1 comment:

  1. Came across your article here on Twitter... I attended the same class - and had the same experience. Purchased the Groupon for some family "girl time" fun with my sister and my mom. We also, went to the Little Italy Studio, and stood there for quite some time, till we pulled up the email again, only to see a different phone number, as well as location. Glenville, not so great area, and the locked desolate building....was quickly vanished however, by the pleasant staff and awesome little show shop. We all had an awesome experience and couldn't imagine how HOT it was! I commented that I'm glad this wasn't offered for the Summer, because this past July - would have had us in a hospital! :) I also took home 2 of the glass flowers, and loved all of the vases I saw. Thinking about signing up for the continued classes..... Glad you enjoyed also!