Scroll Top

Spark Creativity With a Glass-Blowing Class

Have you ever wondered how glass swans are made? Or maybe you were browsing through brands like Upsate for their hand-blown glassware and you couldn’t help but be curious about how they make their wine glasses. It’s quite easy to stumble into the captivating world of glass-blowing because we come across the art form all the time from figurines to vases. When you think about the different shapes, colors, textures and sizes glass objects come in, it becomes apparent how the creativity involved in glass-blowing really has no bounds. There are various angles you can consider when creating, so why not take a glass-blowing class to not only satisfy your wonder but to also explore just where your creativity can take you.

Origins of Glass-Blowing

Glass blowing has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the 1st century BC. Syrian craftsmen were the first to discover the technique of blowing glass as a way to create vessels for transport. Over the centuries, the art of glass blowing spread throughout Europe, Asia and eventually made its way to the Americas, becoming a respected and admired craft that has stood the test of time. Today, modern glassblowers still use many of the same techniques and tools that were used thousands of years ago, carrying on a tradition that celebrates creativity and ingenuity.

Finding A Class Near You

The best way to see modern glassblowers in action, showcasing tried and true techniques is to take a glass-blowing class. I took my class at LeFrancis Studios in North Las Vegas. I found it on one of the best apps to find fun hobbies, Groupon. There was no particular reason behind me taking the class outside of wanting to experience something new but I do love seeing people in their element, doing what they love and are interested in, so that was a bonus. You could see that all around the studio, the concentration and interest in the art, right from the start.

Another way to find a glass-blowing class near you is to research local art studios or schools that offer courses. You can also reach out to art communities in your area to ask for recommendations or look for online directories of art classes. Often you can start with an introductory or beginner class, which is usually about an hour, and then decide if you would like to explore the art form even further with multiple lessons that span multiple weeks.

What to Wear to Your First Class

Glass-blowing attire isn’t anything fancy or particular. I wore a shirt and a colorful pair of pants. The one item I felt was a necessity was a closed-toed pair of shoes since it involves working with high temperatures. Wearing short-sleeved shirts, keeping your hair away from your face and not having a lot of dangling jewelry can also be helpful as these small considerations can contribute to a more comfortable workspace without things getting in your way. Your instructor may also have aprons and protective eyewear for you. The protective eyewear is the most important piece of gear you are to wear as the flame is very bright and that is where most of your focus will be directed.

Techniques and Tools Used in Glass Blowing

Different techniques used in glass blowing include free blowing, mold blowing, and lampworking. Free blowing involves shaping molten glass by blowing air into a molten glass blob on the end of a blowpipe, creating beautiful and unique shapes. Our instructor Robert demonstrated how to make a swan using this technique. Mold blowing, on the other hand, involves blowing molten glass into a mold to create more uniform and symmetrical pieces. Lampworking is a technique where smaller, detailed pieces are created using a torch to melt and shape glass rods.

In addition to these techniques, various tools are used in glass blowing to help create stunning glass pieces. Common tools include blowpipes, punties, jacks, shears, tongs, crimps, tweezers and marvers. Blowpipes are used to gather and shape molten glass, while punties are used to transfer the glass piece from the blowpipe to shape the bottom. Jacks are used to shape the glass, shears to cut it, and marvers to flatten and shape the glass.

During my first glass-blowing class, the 3 other attendees and I got to make 2 different glass pieces. One of the pieces featured a loop and the other a stem. You get to decide how big you want your loop or how long the stem is through your movement of the melted glass. To create our glass art, we used the lampworking technique. The main advice we all received during class was to let gravity do its job. Your hands have to remain steady so the glass rod stays in the flame at the exact location you need it to. That was the most challenging part for me although keeping the rod in the flame did get easier the second time around. Clamps were used to add a little design into the center of the glass while small specs of glass dust in varying colors were used to add color once melted.

glass-blowing class

It’s All in the Movements

Looking back, glass-blowing has a lot to do with movement. How you use your hands to manipulate the melted glass contributes to the creativity and uniqueness of each piece you create. One person might use the clamps a little higher up vs someone using them a little further down thus creating two different designs. A bit more red might be added over blue when shaping the glass on a hard surface. There can be three twists added as opposed to just two. Those are only a few elements you get to consider as a beginner. Imagine what combinations of creative elements you can make with more practice. I admit, most of my creative choices came from me correcting my hards but that’s the beauty of trying something new. You have to let all your expectations go, listen to the expertise of the instructor and just let your creativity fly without worry. Then you get the satisfaction of saying “Yeah, I made that :).”

Have you taken a glass-blowing class or are you interested in taking one? If so, what would you want to make? Share in the comments below!

Image credit by cottonbro studio

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post
Most Commented