Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gowanus Lounge Blows (Glass)

Glass 3

Gowanus Lounge had a fun time blowing glass this weekend at Pier Glass in Red Hook, the design studio and gallery run by Mary Ellen Buxton and Kevin Kutch (in the photo above, on the left). We got into this we when talked at length with Mary Ellen for a Brooklyn Papers story we were writing about Red Hook. While talking we noticed that Pier Glass offers a "glass experience," which is a one-hour glass lesson during which you get to make a glass object--a glass, vase, plate, etc.--with a lot of help from Kevin.

Quickly, we were shown how to hold the steel pole you use to blow glass, how to get glass from the furnace with it, how to use tools to shape it and how to add color to the glass. We learned about the cooling fountain that keeps the steel pole cool so you can hold it, and the "glory hole" that you use to re-warm the glass. We also learned that glass cools by about 100 degree a second once it's "gathered" from the furnace, so you don't have much time to work with it.

As as student, Gowanus Lounge probably earned a C--we let glass drip a couple of times coming out of the furnace--and had to be reminded to keep twirling the tube. Twirling the tube is to glass blowing as chewing is to eating. On the other hand, it seems we did pretty well with the blowing part of the glass making. (Yes, the blowing is key to making the object of your choice.)

So, with a lot of help from Kevin, who's been working in glass for 25 years, we created a tear-drop shaped vase with swirls of yellow, orange and red. We'd have photos of the finished creation, but it went right into a big, hot box where it has to sit and cool slowly for a while.

GL offers major thanks to Mary Ellen--who opened one of the first "arts" businesses in the Hook in the early 90s--and to the very talented and patient Kevin for an enjoyable "glass experience."

Glass 4
Shaping hot glass with a "jack."

Glass1
It's orange because it's glowing hot.

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