My daughters fell in love with glass blowing after going to the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts a few years ago. They wanted to learn how to blow glass and there is a glass blowing school (Diablo Glass) near the museum, but, of course, it was booked solid for a year after the show.
Chihuly at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo from TripAdvisor.
We waited a year and tried again, and they both got a spot for a week long camp during the summer. It was a hot summer, as I recall. This is pertinent because the furnace for glass blowing is 800 degrees Fahrenheit, and they had to wear long sleeve t-shirts and pants for protection.
My younger daughter, PickyKidPix, was just twelve years old, and I had to get special permission to let her enroll. It’s a very physical art, I was told, and she needs leg and core strength to handle the rod to work the molten glass. I really wanted her to do it because she didn’t think of herself as artistic but really wanted to learn glass blowing.
My girls did this camp for two summers, each time for a week. In addition to hot glass blowing, they also did fused glass, slumping cut glass pieces into designs that were put into molds and then put into the kiln.
For a few years, that was it for hot glass. Last summer, we discovered a new glass studio closer to our house, Fiamma Glass. Instead of the 800 degree oven, it uses blow torches. The pieces are smaller but it’s more managable and easier to learn.
My girls are excited to go back to the blow torch glass studio this summer. They find it relaxing to work with glass. I like how hot glass gives a Growth Mindset perspective to art since many kids, like PickyKidPix, think that if they can’t draw realistically, they are not artistic.
Hot glass, on the other hand, is a physical art form that takes the same kind of training that my daughter would put into a new sport that she’s learning. It’s about instruction, and practice. Anyone can learn and improve.
And the nice thing about hot glass is that if you break your piece while sculpting it, you just have to melt the ends to reattach it. It’s like “presto, all fixed.”
We are doing a west coast trip this summer so my oldest can visit art schools in California and Vancouver, British Columbia. One leg of the trip will be driving from San Francisco to B.C., and this is to allow a pitstop in Seattle to see Chihuly Garden and Glass. There also might be plans being laid to stalk him at his studio in hopes of a sighting. I can’t comment on that, of course. Just wish us luck.
How about you? Are there art experiences that have turned your “non-arty” child into an artist? Thanks for sharing.
p.s. I can’t leave you without a children’s book on glass blowing, with a diversity twist of course! My choice is Elena’s Serenade by C
This is a girl empowerment story of Elena who wants to be a glassblower, but girls can’t be glassblowers, or can they? She travels, via magical realism, to Monterrey, Mexico, a city famous for glassblowing. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
I also wanted to share this Japanese art of candy sculpting using molten sugar. It’s a very similar skill to blow torch hot glass blowing, but the end result is not just beautiful but edible!
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