On Sunday, I took receipt of an extraordinary birthday gift. C had arranged a session at Pier Glass in Red Hook. With our friends Peter and Bob, we took the water taxi from pier 11 in Manhattan on a shimmery summer day. (It’s free and brings you to the IKEA store a short walk from our destination.)
Kevin, who is one of the owners and glass making experts at the studio, would be my instructor. He had previously warned me to wear no synthetics (The high heat of the place might melt a polyester shirt!) and no sandals (The idea of dropping molten glass on your foot needs no explanation.), and to bring a bottle of water.
He carefully walked me through the process while he made a drinking glass. At one point, I distracted him by asking him the derivation of two glass-making words: marber and sofietta. While trying to answer me, he lost concentration and broke the piece and I resolved to be quiet and to research the words after I got home.
The most fantastic part of the experience involved extending the metal rod into a vat of molten glass, collecting it as one would scoop a dollop of honey from a jar with one of those corrugated wooden dippers. I kept forgetting to keep the rod turning to keep the glowing glob of glass from slumping but I always managed to save it from disaster.
C and Peter documented the entire event meticulously. Here are some of the pics and vids.
I learned that in glass blowing, the expertise lies in knowing how the glass will react to heat and motion. It is an extremely sensitive process. Not particularly forgiving. It made me want to sell off all the glass I’ve ever collected and replace it with my own stuff. While returning on the watertaxi, I was deeply saddened by the overwhelming brevity of a life in which one manages to get one’s laundry done because one must, but one does not have time to make all the glass one imagines while looking at sunlight flattered by the ocean.
Here is the vase I made. In it is a flower I also made allowing me to use other tools for crimping and stretching glass.