Everyone here at Maho is incredibly excited to see our glass blowing facility back up and running for the season. Each year we shut it down for the "H-word" season, and start blowing again sometime in November.
Above: "gathering" glass from the furnace on a rod
To get things properly tested they decided to run a class with a few staff members, lucky us! The 3 of us that took the class had never tried before, but had plenty of "experience" watching the resident blowers over the past few seasons. Turns out actually working the glass is very difficult, much harder than the artists make it look. Simple things like gathering glass, rolling the glass, re-heating the glass, all become very difficult upon your first try. While using the jacks to separate a ball of glass from the rod or "punte" all I could think about was how easy the glass blowers had made it look and how impossible it seemed for me to do!
Fortunately the class we took (and the classes we offer for guests) started from the beginning, at a very fundamental level; learning your way around the glass shop and different tactical strategies for working helps considerably. Everything was done in a "dry run" at first before attempting to work the glass. The pieces we made started out easy and gradually turned more difficult as we learned the different aspects of working the glass. First we learned how to make a small rose, before graduating to the mixing of colored glass in making either a paperweight, a starfish, or a stamped soap dish. We all chose the paperweight, as it had a medium degree of difficulty compared to the starfish which apparently takes quite a bit more "artistry." Learning to twist the glass, flatten the glass, gather different colors and smooth the sides became very interesting and fun. The best part? whatever you create tends to look pretty good when finished - after all, it's a glowing ball of art that you created at the end of a rod, how could it not?
If you're visiting this season I highly recommend giving it a try, it will give you a completely new appreciation for what our glass blowers are doing during their demonstrations each night. It will also give you a glob of glass that you can say you created yourself! And if you have any artistic ability at all (not me!) you'll be going home with a colorful glass starfish.
Below: Applying color to the gathered glass. The color is actually shards of broken glass
Below: From left to right are the possible creations during the class, paperweights in different shapes and forms, a soap dish in the shape of a shell, and the ever-impossible starfish