Check another one off the list! On November 3rd, I took a glass blowing class at the Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis. I’ve been interested in the topic ever since reading books on the subject and visiting the island of Murano in Italy (prized for its glass blowing). I was nervous beforehand since the closest I’ve gotten to glass blowing is watching just a few minutes of men working in Murano and at the Silver Dollar City amusement park in Branson, MO. I bought the book ‘The Art of Fire’ by James McKelvey which laid out all of the basic steps to glassblowing. There are a lot of them!
Once we arrived at the factory we were greeted by the sight of urban sophistication – the entrance was a large room clearly meant for entertaining, and further inside there was a beautiful gallery:
… and the hot shop blocked off by glass doors for easy viewing:
Once we got started we dove right in, practicing moves with props before we started with the glass. We repeated different steps, learning them in sequence so we could eventually each make a cup- kind of like learning the steps to a dance so you can string them together. Finally each of us students (the three of us) were able to work as a team to make our cups.
Forming the basic shape in the new gather of glass:
Sitting at the bench creating the jack line after gathering the glass and blowing the first bubble:
My team helping out as we formed the bottom of the cup:
Connecting the punty to the bottom of the cup in order to work on the opening of the cup:
Flashing the cup in the glory hole- this was a constant. Working with glass basically means controlling the heat. That and always turning, turning, turning the piece! This was sort of a restful part, since it sits on rollers that greatly assist in the rolling, but I still kept thinking of Harry Potter’s Professor Moody- “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” lol:
It was SUCH a fun experience, I had a great time.
My cup was delivered, and you’ve never seen such a sad, messed up sucker. But honey, I love it. It has a trumpet top, bubbles, marks from the tools and a slightly wobbly bottom, but it also has so much character. And let’s be honest- it’s a GLASS CUP that I made!! So cool. I think I may make it a vase though. That trumpet top is just calling for some flowers.
The finished product:
After the class was over I was so tired and ready to eat! We looked up a close restaurant and found Rigazzi’s- the oldest restaurant on the ‘Hill’- with the same family ownership and true Italian recipes.
The manicotti was amazing!!
It was such a fun day, enjoy this video of my experience. I tried to set it up in a step-by-step of the process. Curtsy of my amazing dad that photographed/video taped almost the entire process! (Which, by the way- takes much longer than the video!):