|Ristra of blown glass chiles at Prairie Dog Glass|
Kate, her husband John, Rick and I piled in our car and headed to Prairie Dog Glass for an active tutorial in glass blowing. The hour long class was $175 for all four of us. Each student gets to select a small glass design as a finished product to take home with them. Prairie Dog Glass doesn't have a website, but it is located at the Jackalope Market, 2820 Cerrillos Rd. in Santa Fe.
I'm going to try to explain the process and illustrate it with pictures of all four of us working on our glass pieces, so it may seem we were all working simultaneously. In reality, brave Kate went first and completed her piece, then we all followed one at a time. Our teacher Richard walked us through every step along the way.
The process starts by dipping the four foot hollow pipe into an oven filled with white-hot molten glass...
...and pulling a glob of it out on the end of the pipe.
The the glob is rolled on a metal table to smooth it out.
|Smoothing the hot glass glob|
Then you dip the hot glob into a dish of colored glass bits to add whatever color combination you choose.
|John adding white to his Seattle Seahawks themed paperweight|
|My glass chile pepper gets a coating of red color|
|Rick remelting his glass|
After adding the color crystals, the glob goes back in the fire to melt the color into the glass, softening it again in preparation for shaping the form of the finished piece.
|I'm wetting down the newspaper pad between rollings|
Forming happens in a series of steps, depending on the final product. For Kate's vase and my chile pepper, the forming happened by rolling the hot glass glob on a mat of wet newspaper until it was elongated. Then we blew the right amount of air into it to create the air space inside.
|Because Kate went first, every step along the way was a big surprise.|
For John's and Rick's designs, the forming entailed pulling the glass glob into a spikey shape to create the swirls inside the paperweight...
...dipping it again in the molten glass, and then rolling it in a wet wooden bowl to create the round shape.
The paperweight gets finished with a final blast of fire before squashing it into a flatter globe.
Kate's vase took a few more shaping steps and more blowing to create a large hollow shape, breaking the shape off the pipe and then reattaching it to create an opening at the other end.
Richard performed the finishing step of the vase, a quick and dramatic swing of the pipe and the hot glass, that created the rippled fluting of the vase mouth. We were all in awe of the process and Richard's skills.
We were all pretty happy with our finished products too.
Now what are we going to do with them! : )