What’s more intriguing than watching a glassblower? Trying glassblowing out for yourself, like I did at The Glass Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
We walked into this shop …
… and this is what we saw.
No barbers, but rather, bearded men working on glass creations over torches. When asked if you had to have a certain look to be a glassblower, we were told that the guys grow beards as a protective measure against the heat from the torch. Otherwise you get quite a “sunburn,” according to studio owner, Eran Park. Hmm, I wonder what women glassblowers do to protect their faces.
When Eran was a young teenager, he saw someone melt glass, and right then he knew what he wanted to do. He was given the opportunity to learn glassblowing when he was a high school senior, and he’s been at it ever since. With about 15 years of experience, Eran now has his own studio where he creates ornamental glass objects and teaches others to do it, too.
As we watched the guys working on their creations, Eran explained the tools used in the process: torches that run on propane and liquid oxygen, cutters, graphite tools, and tapers. He said working with glass is like playing a musical instrument in that you need to get the rhythm and feel of working the glass.
After a short demonstration, Eran offered each of us the chance to try our hand at it. We didn’t have time for a full lesson, so after donning protective glasses, we took turns adding dots of color to a clear stick.
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Eran told us to think of the colored stick as a paint brush and the clear stick as a canvas. We were instructed to hold the clear glass stick underneath the torch flame to heat it but not melt it and then touch the edge of the color stick to it and pull it away, leaving a dot of color. Eran compared the texture of the melted glass texture to sticky taffy, and that’s exactly what it felt like.
The Glass Park offers lessons, and you can take only one lesson if you’d like, perfect if you’re just visiting Fort Wayne. You’ll create a bauble or two like these:
Eran will finish your work in the kiln, and it’ll be ready the next day. He can even ship it to you if you can’t make it back there.
The Glass Park is located at 4037 South Wayne Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Adults and older children may take lessons, but children must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required. Check the web site for details.
Disclosure: My visit to Fort Wayne was hosted by Visit Fort Wayne, but any opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author.
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