Sunday, August 18, 2013

glass blowing

Today we celebrated my mom's birthday. Yes, the one that she had all the way back at the beginning of July. This was the first date that the entire family was free for our planned activity. Well, not the entire family—we had to make do without Primo, who was still at his cross country camp this morning.

Our destination was the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in deepest South Jersey. We didn't get to explore it too much, unfortunately, but it is chock-full of neat things to see and do. The lanterns made from old metal containers are just one example of many!

These glass cloches in a field of wildflowers were also quite stunning. As I said, I wished we had the time to explore the grounds more. Our visit was complicated by a huge display of antique fire equipment and trucks, from all over the eastern seaboard. Although the trucks were interesting, it made it difficult to see all the grounds had to offer.

The primary craft of Wheaton Village is glass blowing. This section of the state was once the site of a vibrant glass industry. Unfortunately it is mostly gone but Wheaton Arts keeps the tradition alive with extensive glass blowing facilities utilized by various artisans. While we were there, a pair of craftspeople were hard at work making beautiful glass pumpkins in assorted colors and styles.

After a lovely picnic lunch (the grounds are perfect for this, with plenty of tables and seating) it was time for the main event: my mom was going to make her own glass-blown vase.

The teacher was excellent: he clearly loved teaching and he was quite good at it. He explained each step of the process in great detail but let the student do all of the work.

Even the actual glass blowing, which as it turns out (at least according to my mother) is quite difficult, like blowing up a very heavy balloon.

The finished vase had to stay there so it could be cooled down properly in a special oven. As he explained to us: if you let it sit out and cool on its own, the outside cools down much too quickly and the hot glass on the inside, which is still expanding, will shatter the outside.

The vase will be mailed to her in about a week, and I will share the finish result as soon as I see it. We highly recommend a session! The cost was quite reasonable for hands-on personalized instruction, and it looked like such fun that we all wanted to try it.

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