Back in March I heard a rumor (actually I read it in a legitimate newspaper) that a blown glass studio was coming to our town. I quickly became a groupie and started stalking the start of this marvelous adventure. The hubs and I recently celebrated our nine year anniversary and we decided to forgo the usual dinner and movie and spend it at Hot Shop Valpo. Hot Shop Valpo is a father, son and friend team that create beautiful blown glass vessels, but what makes this team really special is that they are wonderful teachers who are sharing their passion and knowledge with anyone who wants to give it a go! Of course being a glass mosaic artists I was desperate to give this a try.
The first introduction class is usually a group of two with two instructors. You are given the choice of a paperweight or a flower. We opted for the paperweights, a a fail proof, guaranteed to at least hold down paper and likely wind up looking really cool. Brandon gave us a quick tour of the colorant options and we made quick work of selecting our textures and colors. Since I had more experience working with glass and was more comfortable with it in general, my chivalrous husband let me go first. Winter was the perfect time to give this a try. The “honey pot” is heated to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit 24 hours a day. It was so hot the buttons on my jeans were burning my skin! NOTE: Do not leave your car keys in your pocket while gathering glass at this furnace.
Back and forth to the furnace, rolling color onto the clear glass, adding another layer of clear molten glass, shaping, reshaping, almost but not quite burning my hand, one final dip into the honeypot and 40 minutes later we had to get this sticky blob of reacting glass and chemicals off the steel rod. Some high tech usage of water droplets and one strong whack, boom, finished piece is ready for the cooling furnace.
The final result? Some wicked paperweights that will be a conversation piece for years to come and a perfect memory from our nine year anniversary date.
Wicked cool finished project