Having been an art student at San Jose State University, it was hard not to notice the beautiful glass work that was produced every semester, from vases to animals to rings, it was so colorful. I always found glass work to be interesting, intricate and fragile, but it never really spoke to me until I saw a woman torching glass at the Renaissance Fair. Watching her mold and shape the glass under the glowing flame was magical, like seeing nature’s elements dance together before my very eyes. It was then that I knew I wanted to learn more about glass.
While I was captivated by its magic, I knew I didn’t have the time for a quarter-long or semester-long glass class at a community college. When I received an email from Groupon with the opportunity to participate in the Glass Artist for a Day workshop at the Art Glass Center in San Jose, I jumped at the chance.
It was a 4-hour long class where we rotated into three stations: torch work, glass fusion and stained glass. Although I went by myself, I found it to be really fun and engaging. At the end of the class, we were able to take home three pieces of work.
I started off my adventure in the glass fusion area, with Janett Peace as the instructor. In this session, we got to design our very own glass plate. Basically, you start off with a clear glass as the base and then layer it with pieces of colored glass. With some consistent, steady pressure, you can cut glass using a nice glass cutter into any shape you want. Of course, leave it to me to have a hard time with that, so I decided to keep mine nice and simple. I chose slices of blue glass that were just about the length of the dish and cut them into stripes, alternating them with yellow-green fragmented glass, which I sprinkled between the blue stripes. After our session, the instructors would later put it into the oven and bake it to perfection, where the colored glass would melt together to become one. Unfortunately, I was not able to see its transformation.
My next adventure was to torchworking, which was an amazing experience and the highlight of my day. We got to play with torches, adjusting it to the perfect-sized blue-orange flame while constantly rotating, twisting and turning the glass to be molded into a magical stirring stick. The instructor was super patient and helpful. I felt like I had traveled back in time and was making something out of pure glass and fire, watching it transform before my very eyes. It was amazing watching art become science and science become art. The instructor, at some point, had me close my eyes to feel the glass in my hand so that I can rotate it evenly with the my mind and touch alone, feeling the weight and symmetry in my hands. At the end of the session, we got a fancy little stirring stick, which we had a choice to have them change into a pendant. I opted for the pendant.
The last session of the class was in stained glass. We got to pick 3-4 pieces of stained glass and then apply a metal tape around all the edges to be soldered together. It was interesting. Soldering is not easy (for someone with an unstable hand). This brought back memories of when my brother took manufacturing classes, soldering computer boards together and I remembered how much I disliked the smell. We also used oil to help the solder work with the glass better, so the piece was greasy and had to be washed at the very end. Tony, the instructor, was very nice and helped me smooth out my bumps and such. I liked how the finished piece glimmered in the light. All in all, it was a great experience and I would definitely recommend taking the class (especially if you can get it at a discount price). I plan on taking more glass classes in the future and am excited for my next adventure.
See the three works that I created below 🙂