If there’s one thing that scares the daylights out of me, it’s fire. Unless it’s candles on top of a birthday cake, I’m pretty much not interested (and even then, I don’t really understand why we make it harder to get to the cake). But in the name of holiday cheer and expanding my horizons, I took the leap – although you can tell from the pictures below that I didn’t leap too close to the actual action:
But I needn’t have worried – Leslie Speicher, the instructor, was not only great at explaining the technique and giving tips, but she also made us all feel comfortable with her big laugh and bountiful encouragement. It also helped that I was only there to observe, but I now feel primed and ready for to take the class this Tuesday!
The process itself was surprisingly straightforward – you simply pick the color you’d like, fill up a little glass orb (which kinda looks like a pipette) with little pieces of glass, and start heating it up over the flame. Holding the long, skinny end of the glass, you keep turning the ornament over and over, making sure that it heats up evenly. Note: you will not be wearing gloves while you do this. Yup. No gloves. Just your hands, casually hanging out two inches away from fire. Do you SEE how close Leslie’s hand is to that flame??
But I have to say, everyone pulled it off with grace, skill, and only a modicum of panic. The hardest part was probably knowing when to blow the glass and how hard to blow. It turns out it’s pretty difficult to describe how hard it is to blow glass – we ended up saying it’s somewhere between blowing up a party balloon and a making a bubble with fresh piece of Hubba Bubba.
After the ornament is blown, you cover it with vermiculite to let it cool – the inside is way hotter than the outside, which will cause it to explode if left at room temperature. It needs a cozier environment to rest in before it’s ready to go. I can understand that. It’s how I feel after a big meal.
Come to this class with…the Grinch in your life – no way will they be able to stay Scrooge-like in the midst of all the holiday merriment.
Use this class to…make one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. Bonus: give this class to a friend as a holiday present, then make holiday gifts for other people while you’re there. Boom. So meta.
Come prepared with…limber hands! Who knew turning a glass cylinder for a couple minutes could give you palm cramps?! Definitely get your potassium, magnesium, and calcium in that day.
Appropriate hashtag…#GirlOnFire #PlayingWithFire
You’d be surprised that (pt. 2)…sheets of glass are made by ladling out molten glass onto a flat surface, and then rolling them through (basically) an old fashioned washing machine or huge pasta maker.
What to do in the area…grab some breakfast-for-dinner at Golden Nugget, celebrate your creativity with one of Fountainhead’s many, many beers, or stay in the artsy vein by visiting Lillstreet Arts Center – take another class, check out their gallery, and get a couple more holiday gifts while you’re at it (hey, you could even pretend you made them yourself! Although it’s unlikely anyone would believe you.)