Recently, a friend mentioned an upcoming glass workshop for Valentines Day at the Terminal City Glass Co-Op. The workshop was to make a ‘Heart of Glass’ and I’ve always wanted to check out a glass making shop so I signed up. Contrary to my initial idea, this wasn’t glass blowing since we were working with solid glass. Blowing is a whole other technique that I’m interested in checking out.
The workshop was very quick – only about 20 minutes. I arrived early and got to see others make their hearts and get a feel for the process. Then it was my turn.
After a safety briefing and instructions on how to handle the hot glass, the first step was to grab a blob of clear glass from the furnace to get started:
Forming the general shape of the glass using a wooden ‘block’ form that was soaked in water:
Then, it was over to the table to add some of the coloured glass to the blob:
After melting the coloured glass into the blob, it was rolled (to keep its shape):
Using giant tweezers, a jackline was added. This creates a discrete line to help with the detachment process a little later on. Then the blob was mixed by pulling and twisting the molten glass with the tweezers and rolled again. After covering the blob with more clear glass, it was flattened by a mashing tool and the tweezers were used to cut the V into the top of the heart. All the while we had to re-heat the glass, do a little bit of rolling or forming and repeat:
After a little more reheating and rolling, the heart was detached from the pipe by having one person tap on the pipe with a tool as it cooled and another catching it in heavy gloves as it fell from the pipe. A separate pipe of glass was used to create the base for the heart. You can see that process happen in this video:
After it was finished, it had to cool down in a controlled way via their kiln. A few days later I was able to pick it up. The finished piece exceeded my expectations:
It was a fascinating experience. I’m looking forward to attending future workshops at Terminal City. Their next beginners workshop project, a glass paperweight, is happening in April.