I like to think all of us possess strengths. Mentally scanning my own list of skills, artistic talent and coordination seem sadly absent. Driving to the glass blowing studio for our beginner lesson I nervously turn toward Hubby.
“I have an idea!” I add my trademark puppy-eyed look for good measure.
Was that an eye roll I see from the driver? Definitely a knowing grin from my ever patient partner.
“Since you are far more artistic why don’t you do the glass blowing and I will take all the photos and video?” I hopefully suggest.
“After all I’m not sure that given my skill set, holding a long stick with hot glass on the end is the wisest idea.”
I feel more nervous heading to the glass blowing studio than paragliding off a cliff. We all have our comfort zones apparently.
Let the glass blowing begin
Arriving at Firebrand Glass Studio in Black Diamond, Alberta, I blather on about my nervousness to owners Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock. With visiting artists from Quebec in the midst of a glass blowing demonstration, they suggest we take a seat to watch the making of art in action.
Likely they want to also suggest I take a few deep breaths.
The key to comfort in learning, whether strapping on a parasail or arriving at the glass blowing studio comes from the instructor.
Our teacher Angus gently but firmly guides every step of our afternoon class. After demonstrating how to use the metal stick (punty rod) Hubby and I practice without any molten glass involved. I love the step by step approach.
Only once confident we won’t poke anyone’s eye, including our own, does Angus methodically move on with the class.
Julia explains that most glass blown art is a team effort with many hands involved. Angus never leaves our side and often is a hands on helper. Turns out I am a very good listener. Although not quite as coordinated as Dave, I move relatively gracefully about the glass blowing studio.
What is it like to create blown glass art?
Magical. To watch glass change from liquid in the 1200 Celsius degree heat of the furnace, to solid when cooled by room air and back to liquid when reheated in the 900 Celsius degree Glory Hole, is a dance of science and art.
I admit to being skeptical that I could create anything. Watching beautiful objects form left me amazed.
Are there any age or mobility restrictions for glass blowing courses?
Julia speaks passionately about providing an opportunity for everyone to to have the opportunity to create glass blown art. “We don’t think there should be any limitations and we try to work with any individual to make the experience possible.” Participants must be over the age of 13 and will need to sign a waiver.
Tips for courses at the glass blowing studio
What to wear? Comfortable cotton clothing such as jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt are best. No loose clothing or polyester fabrics. Closed toed shoes are required. Tie back long hair.
What to bring? Come with a water bottle and a snack. Who knew making blown glass art could make you so hungry? Bring glasses or lightly tinted sunglasses and leave all jewelry and watches at home.
Please click below to watch the short video of our time at the glass blowing studio.
Would you like to try glass blowing? More information on classes can be found here.
Firebrand Glass Studio owners Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock have over 55 years of glass blowing experience between them. Their work is collected around the world including the collections of the Emperor of Japan and the Prime Minister of Canada. They have been chosen as one of 5 artists, from a shortlist of 50, to create a public art sculpture celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. The piece will be unveiled in Edmonton on July 1, 2017.
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With thanks to Julia and Tyler at Firebrand for hosting us at their glass blowing studio. All opinions are our own.