Seventy-Eight. Glass Works.

June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I studied abroad during college in Sunderland, England, known to some as the armpit of the country (or the Myrtle Beach of the UK), and to others as the glass capital of it. The University of Sunderland actually had a great glass making study, and I signed up for a glass blowing class the first semester. I sucked at it. The studio was really far away from my other courses so I didn’t practice enough, and it was a difficult class. The activity is a combination of strength, lung capacity, and an intense awareness of your glass piece and its relation to gravity. So I gave up and ended up only making one useful piece of art which now sits undisturbed in a cabinet at my parent’s house. A flatmate of mine was taking the kiln glass course in the same studio, and I  realized that this calmer, less strenuous class would have been more my speed.

So when I saw a Groupon come up for Creative Clayhouse in Suwanee and that you could use it on glass mosaic work, I quickly signed up to hopefully find my glass working niche. On Day Seventy-Eight, I gave it a whirl.

I walked into the converted house in downtown Suwanee to find a sole gentleman standing in a kitchen straight ahead. He cautiously inquired if he could help me, and I explained the Groupon and what I wanted to try out. He opened up a little more as he led me to one of the front rooms, clearly decorated for children and families. It would definitely be my style to purchase a certificate intended for kids. I glanced around the room as Richard explained to me the sizes of base glass, where all of the colored filler glass bits were, and how much additional services would cost. It was a bit overwhelming, so I was relieved when a teacher and her five top students came in to distract the nervous man. Apparently, despite the building being virtually empty, not having made an appointment seemed to frazzle poor Richard.

I finally picked my glass size (6 x 6) and flipped through the idea book left on the table. Then I flicked through the photos on my phone trying to find something of my own to imitate. Despite the number of Murphy photos found there I wasn’t going to make a mosaic of my dog (even if my mom would have loved it), so I settled on an Instagramed photo I took from the airplane ride to Los Angeles. The earth below was covered in square plots of farmland, and it seemed mosaicy enough.

I began with the rivers and worked my way through the scene, becoming less meticulous as the hour wore on. By the end I had forgotten the proper safety rules for cutting glass (but always wore the goggles when attempting it lest Richard chastise me like he had done to the small children), but managed to sort through jars and bins of different colors to approximate the picture on my phone.

Two hours later I was set to let the piece be melted together. I couldn’t tell what Richard thought about my work. He had said something about me doing an intricate design in the beginning, made some suggestions for using frit (small ground up glass-not called “frick” as I had done earlier to his non amusement), and in the end said, “Oh, yes, I guess I can see it.” Whatever that means. I think it probably means that I should give up on glass work all together.


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