Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Check That off My Bucket List!

I have a bucket list. I've already done quite a few items on it, and every time I do something else I feel so much more accomplished.

So what's the latest thing I've done on it?

Oh, just something I've been wanting to try for my entire life.

I took a glassblowing class! And I personally made my very own blown glass tumbler.

It was so much fun! And definitely worth it. A while back my sweet husband found a Groupon deal for an intro class to glassblowing for two. He put it on my Facebook wall, telling me that my good friend Lyssa (who is a high school art teacher) and I should get it. Oh, we were all over that! Like me, Lyssa had wanted to learn the art of glassblowing for years and years. My only holdup had been how expensive it is. But with that Groupon deal, it was only about $75 each! That is such a great price compared to everything else I'd seen!

So we finally scheduled our class and went on September 8th. The place is called Stone and Glass.
(And thank you, Lyssa, for taking pictures for me!)

The owner, James Stone, is a really great fellow. He's an artist who is passionate about both ocean conservation and creating beautiful works of art using glass, stone, and other mediums.

He has a few employees who assist him in teaching these classes and in making items to sell. Seven students, including ourselves, showed up for the class. We observed one of them make an simple tumbler, and then split up into two groups to work on our own pieces. I really like how hands-on this skill is to learn. If you're a little nervous about it, they'll so most of the work for you. If you want to do most of it yourself, they'll simply guide you through the process while you decide color, shape, and design. I wanted to do a lot of it myself, so Mariah, the girl who was helping me, just guided my hands through the process at first and then let me to a lot of the work.

Safety is important, so we were required to wear glasses, long pants, a cotton shirt, and closed toed shoes.

It gets really hot in the workroom. The furnace that holds the clear melted glass in the bottom is kept at about 2100 degrees Fahrenheit.

And there were two kilns for each group to work with. The heat didn't bother me very much, mostly because I was just so excited to learn and make my own.

There's a lot of back and forth between shaping and working the glass and then reheating it in the kiln to keep it malleable.

To get color into the glass, you roll it in colored bits that melt and swirl into the piece as it's worked.

It's important to keep a pointed tip on the hot glass as it's worked. so that it blows out correctly.

Blowing air into it wasn't quite as tough as I thought it might be, but then again I wasn't making anything huge, so I didn't have to blow too much air into my piece. I'm sure something bigger would be trickier.

What's really amazing is that putting a couple of drops of water on certain places, it weakens the glass so that it breaks. This is used to remove the piece from the pole or set it in the oven to cool. Mariah put a couple of drops in specific spots, and when the tumbler was set in place to cool, she tapped on the pole with this tool once or twice and it came right off. 

The glass has to cool down really slowly, otherwise it gets weak and will break. So our pieces weren't ready to be picked up until the following day. They sit in a 925 degree oven and the temperature is lowered by 50 degrees Fahrenheit each hour.

The whole process is really beautiful and some-what intense. I want to do more now! I've definitely been bitten by the glassblowing bug. It's addicting. They were talking about starting up an intermediate class. I think I'll start saving up my money so that I can take it when/if it becomes available!

The green has glitter in it. 

So, if you're interested in learning the art of glassblowing, I highly recommend this place if you're from the San Diego area. You won't be disappointed if you go with an open mind and heart, excited to learn this beautiful skill. If you do, tell James you read about him and his classes on my blog here.


  1. very cool! they teach classes at Thanksgiving Point, every month I look at them, maybe one day. loved the pictures to see the process.

    1. You should definitely do it! It's so interesting. But don't do it on a hot summer day--it got 90+ degrees where I was while it was 80 degrees outside. Seriously though, so much fun!

  2. Gorgeous glass! Looks like tons of fun.

  3. That's fantastic!! I love your tumbler, now I want to go make one!! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you, April! If you get the chance, don't pass it up! It's so worth it.

  4. When things slow down a bit, I'm going to do this. Thanks for the post. Your tumbler is so pretty!

    1. Thanks, Diane! I definitely recommend this place whenever you get the chance. The staff is really great.