Wednesday, May 25, 2011

best birthday ever!

Around Christmas, Roger started hinting that he had a great gift idea for me. Then he said he decided to wait for my birthday. He started the serious hinting up again in April. From 20 questions, I learned that Part A was mineral, Part B was metal. There were 5 parts. The hint that I remember the most was 'it satisfies almost all your needs' (which include but are not limited to kat time, creating, learning something new, doing something a little uncommon and/or difficult). I asked him if it involved heat - thinking it might be a lamp work class, but he said it was something I have never done before, so that was out.

Closer to May he said that he was starting a new hobby, so he wanted to make sure that Tuesday nights were open. I still didn't catch on.

Sunday before the big day he continued the torture by asking some friends to ask me if I had figured out my birthday present yet. By this time I was thoroughly exasperated. Monday after dinner he gave me an envelope. The torture continued: there was a gift certificate inside with nothing but an address. The address led to this website:

GLASS BLOWING CLASSES! I haven't thought about this little adventure for a few years. The arrival of my small friends put this one WAY on the back burner. Thanks to an incredible husband with a great memory and NO gift palsy this year I am playing with molten glass once a week. For 5 weeks . . . or maybe longer.

(Maybe what I really need is a photography class.) The first week's project was a 'worm' or ornament, and a paperweight. Just to get a feel for the glass and how to use some of the tools.

Week 2 was a tumbler - or vase in my case. Not pretty, but the amazing thing is that this baby made it into the annealing oven. At the second to last step, I set the blow pipe down too hard on the gate and the piece fell ONTO THE FLOOR! The lip totally caved in and started to close. The teacher jammed a wooden paddle inside to keep the sides from sealing to each other,
got my piece back on the punty, and saved it. INSANE!

Week 3 was a vase, spinning out the lip and then ruffling it. I talked my way into some color. SO FUN! This time I was a little chicken on the heat, so it took a second heat - courtesy of the teacher - to get it hot enough to spin out, but then I swung it to finish it. This one is has a bit of a lean, but we're just going to grind off the bottom a little and it shouldn't be noticeable.

Week 4's lesson was adding a 'bit' to the basic form - I made a green footed vase - currently in the annealing oven as we speak - because I really don't need any handled beer mugs. This vase went a little 'banana' on me, but it got straightened out. The lip ended up a little flatter on 2 sides than I'd like - next time turn more while swinging the pole. I'm not in love with the final shape but it was a good lesson. And yes, I do realize that it's only the 3rd piece I've blown.

After the first week, I was a little bugged. I assumed that glass classes would be like pottery class: teacher demonstrates the thing to be learned, students grab clay and go crazy for the next 3 hours. For glass class, there are 3-4 students and you each make one project. That's it. The first night after I made my paper weight in 30 minutes, I then watched for 2 hours while the other two ladies made their pieces.

I am not usually one for watching, and group projects were NEVER my forte in school. I don't think I ever got marked down for 'does NOT work well with others,' but it's definitely not something I seek out. Is this because I like to control everything? Maybe. :) I like team sports that are active, but not working in groups.

After the second class, and making something more involved, I've come around. Glass blowing is a group activity. For me, it's the team sport of art. It's very difficult - even for experienced gaffers - to be successful working alone. For beginners, it would be impossible to put a piece away alone. AND the watching is definitely not passive - or doesn't have to be. I've learned at least as much by watching what the others do than by actually handling the glass and pipe myself. This old dog CAN learn some new tricks! Who knew?!


amy said...

well thats pretty awesome, your glass pieces are very cool looking. my mom and sarah watched glass blowing in malta and said it was a very fun to watch.

Jenifer said...

what a fun birthday gift! I can totally see you blowing glass!!! Can't wait to see pictures of everything else you make!!

Margaret said...

Totally cool! I can't wait to see your pieces in person.

The Goat Herders said...

What a great birthday present! Congratulations to Roger for creating this fun opportunity for you. I think you should keep it up. Your work looks awesome already!

The Goat Herders said...

What a great birthday gift! Kudos to Roger for creating such a fun opportunity for you. I think you should keep working at this new-found talent. Your pieces look great!

kat said...

amy - i watched videos on youtube for 4 hours the early morning after my first class. not that i have a problem . . .
it's at least as much fun to do, although a couple of notes:
1 - do not scrape the popcorn off your ceiling the day before class. your forearms will not cooperate.
2 - the day you DO choose to scrape the ceiling is NOT the day that Max gets to choose to wear big boy pants. nobody wins on that day. :)