Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ornament Making at Elements Glass

Jasper loved making an ornament last year at Live Laugh Love in Tigard so much that he actually said, "Mom! This is what I want to do with my life!".  I know that feeling.  There's nothing like glass, which is color, light, texture and energy all at once.  But the Tigard studio mainly offers single session workshops which are very result-oriented; you are sure of getting a very nice finished piece but won't get that much hands-on practice.  I found Elements Glass, a huge glassblowing facility in industrial Northwest Portland. They have been around for 16 years, serving the artistic community, and have offered more in-depth classes.  Glassblowing facilities are outrageously expensive for an individual artist to create for themselves. So serious artists often seek facilities that they can rent to share the cost collectively with the larger community.  I decided we should try one of their Christmas ornament making workshops this year to see how it would compare.

The atmosphere is very different at Elements Glass. When you enter, you find yourself in a spacious art gallery, and walk through a storage area for finished pieces to enter the hot shop.  They are clearly set up mainly for working artists rather than single-session workshop participants, but their Christmas ornament making workshops are obviously super popular. Dozens of finished ornaments were waiting for pickup. Jasper was allowed to choose whatever colors he wanted, and when he asked for a mix of colors they had not already prepared, they readily agreed.  All they had to do was place the colors in separate areas of the marver (a steel table specifically used for glass work) and he rolled the hot gathered glass over each color separately. At his request his amazing instructor gave him a lot more hands-on time to work with the glass.  He was thrilled!  He did not want to use a mold this time to give his ornament a ridged surface, so the end result was a unique mottled texture.

Adding color.
Blowing the bubble inside the ornament.
The ornament is separated from the blowpipe.
Adding the loop to the top of the ornament.
Jasper's finished ornament. 

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