Friday, July 23, 2010

Glassblowing at BAGI (July 21, 2010)

OK, if you live close to a glass blowing class or workshop, sign up the moment you can because honestly readers, this is a beautiful experience. It literally is a blast! Now I can't stop thinking of "glory holes" without also imagining background operatic music.

< < < This is a "glory hole".

Ours was at the very quiet, unassuming-looking Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI) in San Jose. Our group had about 7-8 parents and their kids. The workshop was two hours long and it cost us $50 per person. The two hours and price included a little background on the history of glassblowing, a glassblowing demonstration by a very experienced and engaging glass artist plus a glass souvenir you can blow and take home.

Souvenirs blown by experienced artists > > >

Kiddo had a choice between a pretty flower (that looked like a hibiscus) and an almost spherical paperweight. He chose to create a red and blue paperweight. Our glass artist was also very accommodating with the tons of questions we had and very patient with the kiddo's inability to remember not to touch certain parts of the glass blowing rod (the rod was hot, as in close to 2000 degrees hot!). At the end, in response to the kiddo's question on Prince Rupert Drops (he read about it in Theo Gray's Mad Science book), our glass artist even gave us a (slightly explosive and very, very cool, if you will excuse the oxymorons) demonstration! We now have a very inspired, future glass artist at home :)

And with that, the photos...

Kiddo waits, all gloved and protected, while the glass artist gets molten glass for him to blow from the glory hole. We were advised to wear 100% cotton clothing and closed toe shoes. They provide gloves, safety glasses and sleeves to protect your arms.

The artist dips the molten glass ball into vibrant pellets of various colors. Although you may choose the colors, the end result is quite unpredictable, making it all the more interesting to see what you'll get :)

Despite his natural fear with anything dangerous, the kiddo was very eager to do this but just didn't have the
necessary strength to hold the rod AND the heavy wooden mould thing that helps shape the glass into a ball, both at the same time. At one point, he had his tongue sticking out in concentration and effort LOL. But the glass artist was very understanding, helpful and supportive.

I'll update this page to show his completed paperweight once we pick it up from BAGI in a couple of days :)

July 28 update: Kiddo's paperweight!


  1. What a great idea! Such fun!

  2. That is so cool. I want to do that.

    Have you ever seen a Dale Chihuly exhibit? The coolest thing ever.

  3. Oh that looks soooo cool! I want to do it too!

  4. Updated with pix of his paperweight :) It was a wonderful experience and we're hoping to go back again :)

    Chihuly is awesome! Thanks for sharing Ruth!


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