I was slightly nervous as D and I arrived at the glass blowing studio. For one, I had no idea what to expect, and for two - as I lack hand eye coordination - I was afraid I might make some spastic move and cause myself or someone else a serious injury, or at least cause some damage to my dignity by, say, dropping my masterwork just as it reaches completion.
But Corey, the owner of Portland Glass Blowers, put me right at ease. Corey is a super cool dude, and as D is wont to say, "You know you're in good hands when you see a beard like that."
|Rockin' the Specs|
No, we were using a propane torch that fired at upwards of 4000 degrees F. Okay folks, that means I've got a stinking HOT flame mere inches from my hands. Oh yes, and I have to keep the glass spinning evenly or I end up with a hot gooey mess dropping to the work bench. Concentrate much? You bet I did.
That set up affords some very cool pictures. I was able to capture my favorite image while Corey set D up on his torch before I got started:
Our first task was to create a little paperweight by first heating a 1-in. rod of clear Pyrex until it forms a ball of molten glass at the end of the rod. This takes some time, and you must keep the rod spinning slowly and evenly. There is something almost meditative about the process. When it is ready, you dip it into powdered colored glass and continue applying heat until it all melds together in a sort of lens shape. This is an exercise in chaos theory. The colored glass crystals often look nothing like the finished blown color, and you have no idea what shape is going to form inside the lens as you fuse the glass, but I'm pleased with this effort. It brings to mind some kind of blooming coral on a reef.
Next up, making a stemless wine glass. We heat a tube of pyrex glass and, when it reaches the desired consistency, blow slowly and evenly through the tube while spinning to keep the shape blown out symmetrically. That's the idea anyway. Here, D demonstrates the technique with his usual flair for doing things perfectly:
I, on the other hand, managed to get a tendril of my hair in my mouth while trying to blow the bowl, which promptly spiraled around the tube and restricted the spinning motion. In an effort to get that sorted out, I stopped blowing for a critical couple of seconds (as the glass cools very quickly) and ended up with a sad, oddly pregnant-looking shape. Corey took over, put the piece back into the flame, and valiantly tried to rescue it, with decidedly mixed results:
So what have we learned here? 1) Glass blowing is as mesmerizing when I'm doing it myself as it is when I watch someone else; 2) I shouldn't quit my day job because it turns out I'm not going to be the next DaVinci of glass blowing; 3) Much like in life, it's about the journey, not the destination. (a.k.a. whatever, my glass looks like it was blown by a wonky troll, I still had a good time.)
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So tell me, what new thing have you tried out recently? Did you surprise yourself with success?