Hot Glass + Cold Beer = A New Appreciation

Friday, May 21, 2010

To watch a glass blower at work is to see nothing less than definite precision and impressive skill. Working under a searing and intense flame, these artists create beautiful jewelry, vases, trinkets, etc. using one of the most ubiquitous materials we use everyday.

Last night, ARTmob took over the Phil Mechanic Studios in the River Arts District to see premiere glass blowing artists Alex Greenwood, Logan MacSporran and Shane Smith and how they create their masterpieces.

Glass blowing is a skill that is not acquired overnight. Many artists, like Greenwood, have spent eight years or more perfecting the process. They also have to complete full training and often apprenticeships before they have the ability to step out on their own.

With beers in hand (the event was called “Hot Glass + Cold Beer,” after all) we passed around goofy glasses to protect our eyes from the bright blue flames. The artists got right to work, starting with a skinny stick of glass and molding it under the fire like putty. They used a pipe to blow air into the glass which helped create the bubbled shapes. Then, they used different tools to form the shape they wanted.

The complex nature of glass forces the artist, sometimes called a gaffer, to exercise great care while under the torch. Working with temperatures around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, they must take care to not allow the glass to explode or to burn themselves on the flames.

But the artists last night were good at making the process look easy. With their rhythmic movements they quickly created goblets and designs from what we originally saw as a regular piece of transparent glass.

Guests left in awe of the amazing skill and courage it takes to be a glass blower. Most importantly, we gained a new appreciation for a different kind of art. Next time we will think twice when we buy our intricately designed glass jewelry.

click here to learn more about Phil Mechanic Studios