If glassblowing is a good exercise for learning communication, its an even better one for learning ambidexterity! I took another Level II this weekend, and by the end of the class, I was starting to wonder if I´ve ever used the left side of my body. I admit that I´ve never been adept at playing a musical instrument, and I still have to glance at the keyboard, from time to time, when I type.
This weekend, however, was a good reminder to start using the right side of my brain!
Sunday, 3 April 2016
Still-life with Monica Bonvicini! She was Artist in Residence with us for an entire week, and was so wonderful to work with. My favorite part of the residencies is the moment, when the inspiration kicks-in and everything just falls into place. She had not worked with hot glass, previous to this residency, and it was a very fruitful experience. I recently read an article on the Myth of Creative Inspiration; and I have to agree that there is something to be said about just going for it, in order jump-start inspiration...
Saturday, 2 April 2016
Not too long ago, I took another glassblowing workshop at the studio. I had not taken a gather, since the previous year, when I took the in-depth class, and I guessed I would be wobbly at best. I was surprised at how much my body remembered what to do. I have to admit, though, that having a more advanced partner helped, too. I was especially happy to finally be able to nail taking a larger gather. I spent the entire in-depth class making shot-glasses; I just could not grasp the quick rotations and scooping movement required to keep the glass on the pipe. This time, however, I could and actually managed to make a couple of decent cups.
When I started the studio in 2011, one of the main objectives and motivations was to provide a glassblowing programme for youths. Modelled directly after two famous American programmes – Hilltop Artists in Tacoma and Glassroots in New Jersey respectively – Kids Blow Glas was launched in the summer of 2012, six months after we went hot. Glassblowing requires a lot of communication between you and the others you are working with, and trusting that they will listen and help you make your piece in glass. These youth programmes aim to help kids open up and connect with each other, and if you have ever watched a workshop, you will notice right away how quickly the kids transform, and become more confident.
So that´s the thing about glassblowing... without that communication, you will get nowhere.
As an adult, we – or at least I – have become conditioned to “keep quiet and sort it out later”. But standing in front of the furnace door, which is open just a little too wide, and 1160 C. bellowing and burning your arms, it is nearly impossible to take a proper gather. Turn, turn, turn and then scoop. No. I grit my teeth and pull the pipe right out of there, as fast as possible; and only after a moment, when being to feel some sense of my skin, my body, my brain again, do I realize that the glass slid off the end of the pipe, and I am, in fact, destined to make shot-glasses.
Or I can say something.
Option 1) Yo! The door is open obviously far too wide!
Option 2) Didn´t you pay attention to how I opened the door for you??
And finally, option 3 settles in and is said out loud: Hey next time, keep the door open only about 10cm. I´ll tell you when to stop.
I guess for me, communication is the most challenging part of learning to blow glass. I never realized how often I ignore particular experiences, for the sake of keeping the status quo, for the sake of not wanting to offend someone.
Tuesday, 29 March 2016
Literally. I signed up recently for Berlin Glas ´s in-depth class; and although I´ve stood in front of a furnace for the last 1195 days, and I´ve made a punty or two along the way, I´ve never taken a class. So the other day, as I was standing at the furnace ready to take a gather, my classmate opened the door for me and walked away. It was far too wide, and if you´ve ever stood next to a furnace, you know that 1160 degrees Celsius is freakin ´ hot. Three instincts flashed through my head: the first one told me to close the door myself.; after all, I´ve done this many times, and I know how to maneuver it alone. But I didn´t want the other student to see me and try it herself (our door sticks sometimes). So the other was to yell at her – like WTF close the f´ing door a little! And the third was tell myself to deal with it. You know sometimes, when you are in an uncomfortable situation, and you tell yourself that its only temporary/ it will end soon? Well! Its really hard to do that in front of 1160 degrees! So you gotta step-up and open up – its not her fault, its her first time in a hot shop - and articulate what you need calmly, clearly. But those three instincts that flashed thru my head – deal with it yourself, get angry, or suck it up – made me think twice how we communicate with each other in life. How do I really deal with things? And that blows my mind… in the best possible way...
Monday, 29 February 2016
When we turned the furnace on in January, it never reached top temperature. Glass usually melts at 1250 degrees C. and the temperature never went over 1140. The glass was melted, but at such a low temperature, there were a lot of bubbles. An electrician came to assess what was going on, and sure enough, 3 of the 9 elements were out of order. Of course, we knew the day would eventually come when we would have to exchange parts on the furnace, and that day finally came at the end of the Agya conference.
So the other thing about having an electric furnace is that the elements are not that common, and take a while to produce, 3 weeks, in this case! We bought ours from Schupp and as they understood our urgency, they produced them as quickly as possible. Now the furnace is back to its regular working temperature, and we are ready to blow some glass again!!