Last weekend, we cashed in the Groupon that I gave my boyfriend for his birthday (in April) and spent the morning in a surprisingly awesome glass blowing workshop at a local studio. While the only actual “blowing” I did was in the form of Breathing Through My Fear that what I hoped would become my New Favorite Glass (seen here) would break before it ever had a chance to decant so much as a drop of wine, we did get to pick out our own colors, and “help” as a small cadre of experienced glass artists coaxed vessels and vases from glowing blobs of molten orange nothing with pointy tools, spinning poles, and ever-helpful gravity, a great friend to the glass blower.
Except for when he is her enemy. Before we got to jump in and play with solid fire on a stick, the artist who opens her studio to us neighborhood rubes gave a brief and flashy demo to help establish expectations and give us an idea of what we were in for. While she blew and spun and swirled and fancily attached and detached various appendages to the Demo Goblet, she talked about Glass. About the science that makes it predictable enough to work with, and about the petulant personality of the medium and the thousand and one variables in the process that make the outcome of every piece unique and surprising. Tapping the finished project off of the pipe on the end of which she’d been spinning and shaping it, she broke it, then tossed it I-don’t-remember-where with a casual Oh, well. You win some, you lose some, she had illustrated, possibly on purpose, and she explained that part of the appeal of working with glass was that even if she sets out with a very specific plan, she never knows exactly where it will take her. Continue reading