Glassblowing classes have sprung up in many cities across the US in the last few years. In addition to artists, regular folks have started frequenting them. People who regularly seek new hobbies or interests are finding the art of glassblowing enchanting. Many couples, friends, and families attend recreational glassblowing classes instead of going to the movies or restaurants.
What are Glassblowing Classes?
Glassblowing classes teach students glassblowing. It is the art of shaping glass objects using breath. A molten glass blob can be expanded by blowing air into it and then shaped as required. It hardens as it cools down. The glass is melted in a furnace and then transformed into the desired shape by blowing air through a tube known as a blowpipe. Different tools are used to shape and transform the glass. Professionals use glassblowing to create objects like vases, goblets, and platters. Artists create sculptures and showpieces through the process. An artist or individual who blows glass is known as a glassblower, glass smith, or gaffer.
What Techniques are Used in Glassblowing Classes?
There are two methods popularly employed in glassblowing classes – Free-blowing and Mold-blowing.
Free-blowing is the traditional technique of creating objects through glassblowing. It is the most popular method of glassblowing used by artists. One end of a blowpipe is used to blow short puffs of air into the molten glass, which is spooled at the opposite end. The molten glass is inflated into a blob and manually shaped as desired in the glassblowing class through various tools. Free-blowing glass requires more effort and expertise as compared to mold blowing as the glass smith has to shape the glass manually.
Mold-blowing is an alternate method for glassblowing. The glass smith uses a blowpipe to inflate the glob of glass at the end. However, instead of using tools to shape the glass, it is inflated into a carved mold. The mold gives shape and texture to the glass. Both single-piece and multi-piece molds may be used for glassblowing.
What Will You Do in a Glassblowing Class?
Having a knowledge of what happens in a glassblowing class can prepare you better for the experience. Here are the main apparatuses and activities that can be expected in these classes.
When in a glassblowing class, you will be dealing with three furnaces. The first furnace contains molten glass in a container. It has a temperature of around 2,000°F or 1,090°C. The second furnace is called a glory hole and is used to reheat the glass while shaping it. A temperature between 1,600°F and 1,900°F (870°C and 1,040°C) must be maintained for molding glass. The third furnace in a glassblowing class is called an annealer as it is used for annealing glass after shaping it. Its temperature is set between 700°F and 900°F (371°C and 482°C).
- First of all, you will be given a blowpipe in a glassblowing class and asked to preheat it.
- It will have to be dipped into the first furnace to gather a glob of molten glass.
- Next, the glob will have to be rolled on a flat surface made of marble or thick steel.
- After that, you will blow air into the blowpipe and create a glass bubble. More glass may be gathered over the bubble if required. You keep repeating the process until it reaches the desired size.
- The glass is transferred to another rod made of stainless steel or iron called a punty. It is then shaped using tools along with a mold if required.
- After that, the glass is placed in the annealing furnace for several hours, allowing it to harden.
Who Offers Glassblowing Classes?
Various apparatuses and equipment are required for teaching glassblowing classes to students. These include furnaces (also called kiln or oven), tools, and apparatus. Therefore, only dedicated facilities that have access to all the required equipment and tools can offer glassblowing classes.
Arts Museums and Colleges
Museums and colleges that conduct arts courses may conduct glassblowing classes. They generally offer professional courses, although some may hold recreational classes as well.
Studios run by artists specializing in glassblowing creations may also offer glassblowing classes. Most of them hold recreational glassblowing classes, with professional classes being conducted by renowned studios or artists only.
Types of Glassblowing Classes
There are different types of glassblowing classes offered today. Some of them are catered towards hobbyists, while others are meant for artists.
Recreational Glassblowing Classes
Recreational glassblowing classes are suitable for individuals who want to try out a new hobby. You may be considering alternate activities instead of going to the movie theater or having lunch at a restaurant. The classes may last for a single session. Recreational glassblowing classes are suitable for individuals who want to try their hand at glassblowing while having fun. They may be able to create a small object at the end of the glassblowing class and get to take it home as a souvenir. It serves as an introductory class, allowing participants to experience the process and determine if they are serious about it. Most recreational glassblowing classes last for one to three hours and are generally offered in a 1-on-1 format.
In a 1-on-1 glassblowing class, there is an instructor for each student. It ensures that the learner receives undivided attention from the teacher. A single class may have a fee of about two hundred dollars. A few studios offer 1-on-1 glassblowing classes for couples as well. Each person gets to make a separate object in the class. A 1-on-1 glassblowing class for couples may have a fee of about four hundred dollars.
Professional Glassblowing Classes
Professional glassblowing classes are suitable for individuals who are serious about the hobby. They may want to set up their small glass studio for selling artistic creations. These glassblowing classes have a complete curriculum that covers the theoretical and practical aspects of the art. The students will receive education about different glass types, techniques, tools, and tips and tricks. Professional courses are generally four to six weeks long and offered as group glassblowing classes. The number of students in a group will vary from one institute to another.
Some studios offer glassblowing classes for kids as well. However, they may require an adult to accompany the child for proper supervision. Choose a glassblowing class according to your interests and requirements.