Cdnpearly's Blog

Pearl's musings

Glass Blowing–a breathtaking experience! February 8, 2012

Dennis and Meghan purchased a Living Social Deal for my birthday–the perfect gift:  A private glass blowing lesson with a local artisan. I finally scheduled my class last week.

I found Santa Barbara Art Glass on East Mason Street in a studio that was adorned by spectacular hand crafted glass creations.  Saul Alcaraz, owner and artist, greeted me at the door and walked me through the basics of the tools and processes we would be using.  Impressively Saul demonstrated a Christmas tree ornament (I opted to make 2 decorations and a bowl).  He made it look easy!  Now it was my turn!

First I selected the colors for my masterpieces!  Saul added in some “magical” products as well.  We placed them on a metal table, ready to meld with the molten glass.

Next I gathered glass on a long metal pole.  This is done by placing the end of the stick into a hot “oven”, and by hot I mean SURFACE OF THE SUN HOT!  I swirled the stick in a cauldron of liquid glass.  It’s important to keep the pole rolling at all times so the glass doesn’t glop off and harden in an unattractive form.  It’s a lot to manage–handling freaking hot molten glass AND keeping the stick moving AND following instruction.  Thankfully Saul is an experienced artist and teacher, so he calmly and confidently coached me through all the steps of the process!

After gathering the glass, you roll the glob on the pre-selected colors.  Return the glass to a hot oven to melange the color.  Repeat with magical product and other colors as desired.

Next roll the colored glass on a flat metal table to create a cylinder shape.

Then, you begin to blow.  I had the idea that it was a gentle and simple gesture…I was mistaken!  I blew that glass like a tough balloon.  Saul was carefully watching and coached me on when to blow and when to ease off to create a delightful globe shape!  He blasted the surface of the sphere with a torch and suddenly the colors popped!  The final step was shaping a delightful glass hook on the top (so as to hang on the Christmas tree)…this was created with a glob of liquid glass stuck to the top of the globe and formed with giant metal tweezers. Saul gently set it in a warming oven to let it slowly cool.

And then, I got to do it all over again for my second Christmas ball.

After a few moments break where I guzzled (gratefully) some cool water–keep in mind it’s hot and you’re working hard (sweating is a natural byproduct!), we started on the bowl.

The process is similar to the sphere, except that the globe is opened up to created a cylinder, then spun out rapidly to create a frisbee and quickly hung upside down (an act of faith that the glass will NOT fall off the pole!)  Gravity does its work and the edges of the frisbee gracefully fold down to create a lovely fluid fluted shape.

I am thrilled with the results!  Thanks so much Saul!  If you want to see how he creates a bowl, click here to see his youtube video.  It’s less than 3 minutes and it’s stunning.

A few other updates:

  • Meghan is doing well.  She is using the CCTV regularly at school.  Thank you La Vista Foundation for your generosity.  We are working with the Braille Institute to gain access to digital books and digital book readers.  It’s amazing the resources that are available.  They really do make day-to-day life much easier for her.  Recently a teacher at her school saw her racing through campus at full speed.  He asked her how she was doing, her response was “I can’t see a thing…but I’m going FAST!”  I think that is a fair assessment of how she operates:  living life to the fullest, holding nothing back despite her limitations.
  • Books:  Just finished The Steve Jobs book.  An interesting read for sure…not a page turner like Unbroken (which sets the bar for biographies in my opinion), but still worth a look.  I’m well into Seabiscuit (another Laura Hillenbrand biography interestingly.)
  • Recipes:  Lots of new ones to report, but I’ll start with the most recent one that I used for our Steve Jobs book club meeting…Cider Beef Stew. I wanted to make something featuring Apples because, well, you know, Apples were hugely prominent in Steve Job’s life…It was well received and I’d definitely make it again.

That’s it for now…

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4 Responses to “Glass Blowing–a breathtaking experience!”

  1. Liz Pettegrew Says:

    beautiful!

  2. emilyjreed Says:

    So gorgeous!! Thanks for explaining the process – I now have even more appreciation for the glass that I have : )


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