Making a glass flower!

I’m so excited to tell you about what I learned this week… I took a glass working class!

We took a little family vacation to Niagara Falls, and then continued onto Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn is the home of the Henry Ford museum/factories, as well as a place called Greenfield Village, a 19th century village created by the Ford Family.

Next week, I’ll write more posts about my adventures at Greenfield Village: visiting working farms, yarn production and a multitude of crafting workshops. But today, I’ll tell you about my glass working class!

The Glass Shop

In the glass shop, there are glass artisans producing pieces (everything from mugs to vases to ornaments)… and you can watch every step of the process!

There’s also a narrator who describes each step that the glass artisan takes… I learned so much!

Here are a couple of tidbits that I learned:

  • Pots of liquid glass are kept in the furnaces at about 900 degrees. When it’s time to start a piece, the artisan dips a metal pole into the pot to scoop a dollop of glass!
  • The glass gradually cools as you work. To keep the piece pliable (and to keep working on it), the artisan returns the work back into the furnace to raise the temperature.
  • You can’t start with too big of a glob of glass. If the artist is working on a large piece, they’ll go back and add more glass to their initial piece.
  • Cool metal is used to shape the hot glass… and it doesn’t stick!
  • The glass, once finished, needs to be cooled slowly (in this case, computer-controlled ovens), or else it will explode later on. Eep!
  • Using a wooden mold to shape the glass is called ‘blocking’. Sound familiar?

Look… he’s blocking!

Making a glass flower…

The glass shop has a class for total newbies like me. An easy starting project is to make a glass flower, since it requires just pulling and shaping with metal pliers.

Step 1: Watch the demo The first step, of course, is to learn from the teacher how it’s done.

Step 2: Don protective gear The hot glass is HOT! So, I put on gloves, glasses and an apron…

As you can see… I’m excited to get started!

Step 3: Make the flower! I followed the instructions… first, flattening the top of the glass blob. (as you can see, I’m not on my own… the teacher is in control of the hot glass!)

Then, I shape the flower… pinch here, tug there.

The trick seems to be rotating the piece (which the teacher did) to fight gravity while pinching/shaping before the piece cooled.

Step 4: Let cool The teacher zipped my flower off to the computer-controlled cooling ovens… and I got my piece later on. Wanna see it?

Here it is:

I’m so proud! I can’t believe I made something out of glass!

So, are you doing something crafty this weekend?

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Sep 15, 2012 | Posted by in Blog, Craft School Saturday | 18 comments

Comments (18 Responses)

  1. Nancy says:

    What a “cool” Craft School Saturday! I love watching the glass artisans work. You are so lucky to have been able to do this. Thanks for sharing Stacey.

  2. Karen Rumbaugh says:

    Beautiful! Great Job :)

  3. Oh wow – that is so amazing. I can’t believe you made something out of glass either. It is one of those crafts that you always want to try but never have an opportunity to have a go. You are so lucky to get that chance. Thanks for sharing your glass adventure.

  4. ZoeOB says:

    Geez, Stacey, there is no end to your talents! Beautiful! All I’m making this weekend is a blanket for my little dog.

  5. Elisabeth says:

    I’m a fan of sculpted flowers (and birds) and for a first try, yours looks pretty dang AWESOME!!! :) GOOD JOB!!!

  6. Jeanette says:

    Oh wow, that is so cool!

  7. kim says:

    Yours is the second post I’ve seen in 2 days on glass projects. I would love to try this. How do they get the different colors?

  8. Rae Haller says:

    You can see your excitement on your face. You did an awesome job! Way to go. Admire you for doing this. Your flower is so beautiful. Am proud of you.

  9. Liz says:

    WOW,l that is gorgeous!!!!!!

  10. Casey says:

    What fun thing to get to do! Your flower is beautiful!

  11. Michelle says:

    nice job! I had fun doing the exact same thing a few years ago while visiting the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY — it’s a great museum and definitely worth a vist if you have time!!

  12. Christine Ouimet says:

    Isn’t it the most wonderful place? My parents have been members of Greenfield Village/The Henry Ford for about 25 years, and I grew up going there regularly. My parents still go there so much, I actually checked to see if they were in the background of your photos :) I feel very lucky to live less than half an hour away.

  13. Nichole says:

    That is beautiful and looks like a lot of fun!

  14. mary says:

    oh your flower turned out so good stacey!!! i am the girl who helped you get all signed up at the liberty craftworks store…it was great to meet you and i am glad you had a great time!

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Mary! So good to ‘meet you’ in the digital world :)
      I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and I had such a fabulous time!!! Thank you :)

The shop is on vacation for the summer! Come back in September for a full restock!