Blowing Glass at Terrapin

colored shards of glass in bowls as someone presses molten glass into them.

Adding color to our molten glass was the first step!

Wintertime in New England tends to be a skier’s dream, thanks to the abundance of great place to go downhill and cross-country skiing. We covered both of those topics in our blog posts last year, but sometimes you want to warm up during the winter. If you’re one of those people, look no further than Terrapin Glass Studio. Located right down the road in Jaffrey, Terrapin has tons of different workshops that let you create unique and beautiful pieces. I headed over there one Saturday to try glassblowing for the first time in their Make Your Own Friendship Ball class. It was a great experience, and kept us nice and toasty on a cold day. If you’ve ever been curious about glassblowing, let me take you through my visit!

 

a large furnace for glassblowing heats up molten glass on the end of a metal pipe.

The glory hole heated up our pieces so the colored parts would melt properly.

After making sure we arrived 15 minutes before out workshop (and in a cotton long sleeve shirt for safety!), we watched a quick safety video followed by a demo of our workshop. After picking out colors from the selection, we popped some sunglasses on our face to protect our eyes and headed on in to the hot shop. Our instructors went over the safety info again, showing us where to stand and sit along with explaining the different stations of the studio. Then we were off! One at a time, we got to watch as they pulled liquid glass from a furnace that kept it all at 2000°F and onto a pipe, then had us add our colored glass. In order to make sure our colors blended into the clear liquid glass, we had to slowly turn it in another furnace called the glory hole. Our instructor made sure we didn’t go too fast or too slow so that our colored glass swirled perfectly around.

Blown glass expands on the end of a metal pipe.

After the second round of clear we got to blow the ball out!

With the color added our instructors sat down on a bench and had us each blow hard to create a bubble inside the glass. This was how the glass would turn into an orb, so it was important that we listened to our instructor as we were told when to blow and how much. Then, they added more liquid glass from the furnace and helped us shape it into an orb. From there we blew more air into it, blowing the glass up while our instructors helped keep it circular until we were finished. While the rest of us waited for our turn, the two instructors answered questions we had about glassblowing, working in the hot shop, how the different furnaces worked and more. With a quick pop our instructors pulled our friendship balls off of the pipe and added a stem with a hoop so we could hang them once we took them home. This was our first glimpse of what beautiful pieces we had completed.

 

Woman holding a blown glass orb with swirls of blue and red

The finished product!

Like pottery, the glass had to cool down gradually. Our instructors placed our finished balls into the final station called the annealer. In there they would cool down slowly so not to shatter or break before we could take them home. It meant it would take a few days, but the people at Terrapin can always ship out the finished works for anyone who lives too far away to pick them up! After we finished in the studio we were completely warmed up by our experience in the studio, and already eyeing a few other classes to take. It was a perfect way to spend an hour doing something fun and new without having to have any previous experience. With it being so chilly out, we got to warm up and make unique and lovely objects by hand!

 

 

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