With one of our homeschool groups, we recently had the opportunity to visit Dallas Glass Art, a glass studio in downtown Dallas, for a tour and to see a demonstration. Glassblowing is one of my bucket list items, so I was so thrilled to have the experience for myself as well as provide a fun opportunity for my kids.
Pre-Visit Glass Art Lesson
To prepare for our visit, I gave a little lesson to the kids in our playgroup. First, we passed around a piece of art glass I own and made guesses about how it might have been made, how they added the color, etc. Then, we watched a couple of YouTube videos watching some glass sculpture in action.
After the videos, we did this melting cups activity from Craftwhack.
Dallas Glass Art Studio
At the studio, we sat on bleachers while one of the moms in our homeschool group told us about the space and everything in it. Her and her husband both work at the studio, so it was fun to get the inside scoop and be able to ask lots of questions.
There were three glass artists working together to make a large glass bowl.
The furnace that holds the clear glass is 2000 degrees! Even though it was a chilly day, we were burning up. This artist just got a small piece of glass from the furnace and is rolling it out on a large steel table called a marver.
In this photo, the artist blew a small puff of air into the tube and put his finger over the opening. The air forced itself through the tube and into the glass. You can see the bubble being formed at the end.
Most of the time we were there, they added more and more glass. They got a small piece at a time (about the size of a golf ball it looked like) from the furnace and then rolled it out to merge the pieces together on a table. For maybe 30 minutes or so, they repeated this step over and over until the glass was the size they needed it to be for the final piece.
After adding layer upon layer of glass, you can see how big it eventually got below.
We watched as they spiraled different colors together. Different colors are softer than others, so they have to pair soft colors with hard ones in order to give the final piece strength. In the picture, it is orange, but the final piece will not be orange. The orange is the heat!
After rolling and blowing it, then move to another station. One artist rotated the pole and used stacks of newspaper to rub the surface while the other blew on the end while it was spinning. It was incredible to watch the teamwork!
Here’s a video I took of this part.
At one point, they ended up with a bubble in the glass that they didn’t want. In this case, they used a blow torch and some extra manipulation to get the bubble out before they made the bowl.
The last part went really fast. After the careful and deliberate work of building up the glass, it was done in an instant! Here they are catching the final piece to put into a 1000 degree kiln to cool for 12-24 hours.
I have to say it was pretty amazing! I was so glad to have the experience. Thanks so much to the artists at Dallas Glass Art for giving us such an amazing experience!