Glass Blowing 101

There is a glass art studio that just set up at the Orange Beach Art Center called the Hot Shop.  You can watch the artist create with glass usually just on the weekends.  They also schedule field trips and groups so some members of both the Lake Forest Home School Club and BEACH homeschool club attended a class at the Hot Shop today.  We learned about the history of glass, the science of glass and watched as the artist went through each step, including blowing the glass, to make a wavy bowl.  He incorporated color and ridges.  He taught us about the furnace and how it works versus the “old fashioned way”, how the glass cools and handed out a sheet of paper with glass and glass blowing terminology on it.  At the end of the presentation, anyone interested could pay $20 to make a glass ornament.  It was a treat to watch one of our students, Nick, do this before we left.  His job was to blow into the blow pipe at determined times.  The artist would gather the molten glass, roll it on a table, add color and when it needed an air bubble in it to make it grow into a ball, Nick’s job was to blow into the pipe.  He said it was really hard.  The pipe is long so just a little puff of air isn’t going to do much. You have to use your lungs.  In the end, the artist produced for Nick a red glass ball with a glass hook attached for hanging.  It needs 12 hours to cool, so he and his mom will have to make another trip to pick it up.  The red glass, when it is hot, looks brown so we’re anxious to see the cooled product.

rolling molten glass in a fine glass coloring

rolling molten glass in a fine glass coloring

reheating the glass

reheating the glass

he's added larger chunks of purple glass for more color

he's added larger chunks of purple glass for more color

using tools to shape the glass

using tools to shape the glass

after making an opening and reheating the glass it is spun to resemble a flat plate

after making an opening and reheating the glass it is spun to resemble a flat plate

then the glass is hung down; gravity pulls the ends together to make a wavy effect

then the glass is hung down; gravity pulls the ends together to make a wavy effect

The art center was a treat, too.  The art was beautiful; mostly beach-related subjects and reasonably priced.  There is a gift shop.

The Hot Shop is open to the public on Saturdays and holds classes from 10am to 2pm.  They offer the opportunity to make an ornament for $20 or a paperweight for $35.  We saw some paperweights in the art center and they looked like oversized marbles with a flattened part to rest on.  The colors used for the swirl inside the glass was very pretty.

The Orange Beach Art Center is located at 26389 Canal Road.  From the Foley Express turn left on Canal and the center is on the left.  If you pass the blue water tower you’ve gone too far.  Check out their website: www.orangebeachartcenter.com.

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