You guys know how much Kate and I enjoy being creative and making things but this month we got the opportunity to take things up a notch or two and have a go at the type of making that we just couldn’t have tried out for ourselves at the dining room table. This month we got up close and personal with molten glass.
We are really lucky to have access to the most amazing community of artists and makers in Edinburgh and East Lothian, and Ingrid (who teaches glass making at Edinburgh College of Art), runs workshops for beginners on various weekends over the year.
As you can imagine, the glass workshop is hot, hot, hot and scary at first, but with a good teacher to take us through techniques and safety rules it becomes less scary. There are a lot of safety things to think about! We were both appropriately nervous when we arrived but by the end of the day, those nerves had given way to excitement at what we’d done and what we could do next (oh yes we are all set for a more advanced workshop in the future).
So what did we learn to do?
Well, apart from learning about all the tools and what they are for, jacks, tweezers, blow-tubes, punty irons, blocks and paddles etc. We also learn some of the basic techniques needed to make some beginner goodies. We started by learning to use the jacks to shape and cut in by making little “marbles”. It was all about learning to keep the glass turning, as gravity will pull the molten glass, while shaping and directing things.
Once Ingrid was happy we’d got the hang of controlling and shaping the ball of fire on the end of that big metal pipe, we moved on to the excitement of actually blowing the glass. Kate even had a go at seeing just how big you could make a glass bubble get before it went pop.
So of course, we had a bubble but once you can make a bubble, then you need to learn to shape it it into what ever creation you are making.
They all require shaping in different ways and Ingrid taught us all the techniques to do each of these.
You may for instance, use the paddle to shape the base so that it’s flat.
Or you may use the edge of the jacks to open it out and and flatten the outside.
We also had a go at a technique called “necking off” to elongate and stretch the molten glass. In this case literally to make a neck, for Kate’s vase.
Eli got all fancy giving a glass a fancy tulip shape by using the jacks to flare things slightly.
You’ll notice as well, there is a gorgeous purple spiral on Kate’s vase, above. We did a lot of working with coloured glass in the afternoon which was fantastic. Learning how to add colour in different ways and how to manipulate it was so interesting. For me, learning how to create little bubbles inside my blown piece was so cool. I’d always wondered how that was done.
Oh, and let’s not forget that you can also have the help of your friend gravity to shape things. Although to be honest, I was just playing at being a wizard!
We have to say thanks so much to Ingrid and Meg (who took the photos) for a very fun and amazingly interesting day where we learned so much. We’ll be 100% doing more of these classes.
So, I bet you are dying to see our finished treasures?
We both made christmas baubles, paperweights and glasses (I forgot to take a photo of them sorry) and Kate made a vase and I made a bowl. Kate went for purple and pinks and I went for blues.
If you want to see how it’s done properly, check out Ingrid & Meg’s websites.