(More about Chihuly's Fern Green Tower here and here.)
We saw fascinating exhibits and dazzling demonstrations. Stop and think a moment about how much glass there is in your life, from window panes to wineglasses, from prisms to pyrex. Glass is an amazing medium, spanning the strictly utilitarian to the breathtakingly beautiful. If you're ever in upstate NY, don't miss an opportunity to visit the museum.
But wait, there's more. Because they also treated me to classes.
And that's where the superhero costume comes into the story. Because glass is HOT...
Here I'm getting a taste of glassblowing.
The nice young man does all the ya-gotta-know-what-you're-doing work. My job is just to puff on the blowpipe and make a bubble in the glass.
Reheating to keep the glass soft.
Hey, look! I made a bubble! And don't be fooled by the red and orange - that's just the heat talking. The actual colors of the glass are blue and purple. (And clear. Clear is a color, as I learned that day.)
Now for a little more knowing-what-you're-doing stuff by the nice young man (and I did ask him his name at the time, but I didn't think to write it down, so I've forgotten it. He told me he'd been working with glass for 6 years, and had been with the museum for about 3 months.) He's making a flat base on my bubble, and pulling a decorative top.
Tada. That's a glass ball full of my breath.
And there's more!
While I only needed goggles for the glassblowing, since there wasn't any 'hand-on' stuff, for this part I needed to be all geared up with safety stuff. Sleeves, gloves, and goggles. They even had foot protectors available for people who had showed up in sandals or flipflops.
This time I get to do some actual shaping...
And when it was all cooled off, it looked like this:
For the third and final class of the day, we all got to play: My two daughters, my granddaughter, and I all made glass beads, using a torch. This was the biggest decision process of the day. I'd picked a couple of colors each time for the previous projects, but this time, we had to choose 3 colors, a shape, a size, and a pattern for our bead. The decisions were almost impossible - there were tons of gorgeous colors to choose from, several patterns which were all appealing, and round? Square? Triangular? So hard...
In this photo, you can see some of the colors we had available. That's my oldest girl on the left, being assisted by her designated Redshirt. And I was very glad that each of us had someone right at hand, as we fiddled with molten glass, playing with a torch that was burning at 1000's of degrees F. (And all the Redshirts survived the mission! Must be a first...)
There's my youngest girl (in orange) and my granddaughter on the extreme right. I had to stand behind a railing out of the way while I waited for my turn, so couldn't get any pictures of their beadwork in action.
And here's an out-of-focus picture of my bead. (Sorry, that's the best of a sad lot.) I chose white for my background, and purple and green for my accents, round, medium, and swirly.
Here's a photo with my hand for scale. (And yes, I have a boo-boo on my thumb. Though it was a kitchen injury, not a glassblowing injury.)
Then, as if the workshops weren't enough, we visited the galleries and saw 3500 years of glass. From ancient Egyptian glass (where a couple of guys playing with melting sand Changed the World Forever) to Roman glass to Medieval glass to Renaissance glass to Modern glass, and every age in between, with examples from every region of the world. Glass! Beautiful glass! Mindblowing glass!
Makes me want to take up some new hobbies. I'm sure Madman wouldn't mind if I put a glass furnace in the kitchen, right?