I have been bitten by the glassblowing bug. Watching the glassblowers at the Simon Pearce Mill last weekend really inspired me and this weekend I took a glassblowing lesson. The workshop was at artist John Pomp’s studio, 160 Glass in Brooklyn, where in three hours you learn and execute the entire process of making a vessel.
With only a brief safety rundown and demonstration, they had me gathering molten glass from a 2,075-degree kiln. This heat makes this the most intense art form. One, there is the danger-factor of burns, glass combustion and just the pure shock of heat exposure (my eyes teared, my nose ran and I am missing arm hair), but once you get over the fear of fatal injury, the real intensity comes from the unpredictability of hot glass. It is constantly morphing and a second too long in the glory hole or too few rotations or too sharp a tilt of the blowpipe, and your hot glass will lose whatever shape you were just working towards. As a first-timer I was, of course, a bumbling mess of near-disasters, but my instructor kept me at a certain pace to prevent them.
Glassblowing is all about seamless flow and unwavering control. And when done well, the sequence of steps is as much of an art as the final product.
My typical encounter with glass is so utilitarian that I rarely stopped to appreciate a glass of water or a vase on a table. But now that I think about glassware as a molten blob fully transformed, the cups in my cupboard look a lot more impressive.