What Do You Do In The Summertime – Seattle Glassblowing

A few weeks ago we visited the Tacoma Glass Museum and we intrigued by glass blowing.   A few days later I saw a Living Social deal for glass blowing at Seattle Glassblowing Studio.  There were a couple of options of what you could buy.  Some were for a single item (glass float or glass bowl) and there was an option for a 4 hour 3 person private lesson.  Looking on their website it said that we would be able to make multiple pieces.  When I added it up it was much cheaper to do the 4 hour class.  After going – the one piece option lasts about 15 maybe 20 minutes and you are not doing a lot of the work on the piece – you are mostly assisting the teacher.  With the 4 hour class you are the artist and the teacher is your assistant.  That being said if you want a “perfect” bowl or float then do the one item class.  It you really want to experience then the 4 hour class is the way to go.

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We booked our class for a Saturday morning from 9am-1pm.  We did it a few days after my birthday as my birthday present – just fun to have everyone there.  Brett was a great trooper and watched the whole class.  11 is the minimum age so Becky work right along side us and was great.

There is a look at the classroom..  The center furnace is where they keep the  molten glass.  the hole to the left is where we would rewarm up the glass.  Our instructor is getting our pipes ready from the pipe oven.

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You can see the tools which are to the right of the bench which we used to make our creations.

The first thing we were making were paper weights.  Our instructor, Matthew, would get the glass out of the furnace for us.  We would then start to shape it..  The metal tongs were more to gently guide as I found out.  You don’t push too hard on this step.

 

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Then you take your shape and add frit to it to give it colors.

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Then you put it back into the hot spot to let the frit melt into the glass.

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After it was melted you could add more color if you wanted…

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Next you want to move the color and glass away from the end of the pole since what is on the pole at the end isn’t part of your piece.

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Next step is to twist the colors so that you can get a swirled effect..

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After you have twisted it like you want we used a wet wooden bowl to help shape it into a circular shape.

 

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Next step is to put clear glass over your colored glass and to put it back into a wooden bowl.  Once you do that you then want to pull the glass off the pipe a bit more..

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Once you have given yourself a gap then you hold the pipe with the glass at the top to allow it to flatten a bit..

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Once you have it like you want it, then you make a couple of cuts at the bottom of you paperweight.  Set it down and tap the pipe, which comes right off the piece.

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Next step is to put it into a kiln which is at 960 degrees.    In the evening the kiln is slowly lowered to room temp so that the glass can cool smoothly.  If you left it out on the counter in 3 to 4 minutes you’d hear a popping noise.

 

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Next we learned how to do pieces which were blown glass.  We made glass floats, bowls and ornaments.

The process is much the same.   Get molten glass, add color, melt color into glass, twist glass and move it off the pipe.   Then you add a new step.   Blow in the end of the pipe as a person pulls the glass away from the pipe..

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If you want a glass float or an ornament you stop here and cut it off then add a dot of clear glass as your stand or ornament hook.

If you want a bowl, you then suck the air out of the glass and it collapses into a bowl.

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So cool.  I loved being able to see all the different techniques that you use to make different pieces.

When you take your bowl off and get it ready for the clear glass for the place where the hole was from the pipe.  Reminds you how hot the glass is when it starts to flame on the board.

 

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Lots of fun and the 4 hours went by quickly.  So glad that I brought snacks and water to drink while we were there.

Here are our finished creations.

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