Tuesday, April 1

Glass Flowers

A few weeks ago I got to try my hand at glass sculpting. I bought a coupon for a class at Tulsa Glassblowing Studio making glass flowers. After some minor delays in getting our class scheduled, my friend Amanda and I went and learned the basics of working with glass.

My flower, loved the colors.
Working with the liquid glass was interesting, you dip some out of a large kiln with a long metal rod. For the glass (which has the consistency of honey) to keep its shape you keep turning it and reheating it often since the glass tries to solidify as it cools.

With flowers you start out rolling the glass into a fat stem-like shape, although it looks more like a fat sausage at that point. The colored glass is a bunch of small shards in separate bins. You roll the glass in the color for the stem, add more glass from the kiln, then smash the new glass straight down into the color for the petals. After that you use a jack (like giant tweezers) to pull the glass out in the petal shapes. Our instructor finished the flowers by letting the stem stretch and twist before breaking the flower off the pole.

Amanda's flower, thought it would be perfect for her office.
The process was very cool, but I could tell it would take a lot of practice to be able to control how the piece turns out. Amanda and I chose different colors, but even the shapes turned out completely different. And looking at the flowers on display in the studio I didn't see any that were alike.

The studio does demonstrations during the monthly First Friday Art Crawl in the Tulsa Brady Arts District (where they are located), which is fascinating. When we went for our class Amanda and I convinced our instructor to show off a bit to give us an idea of how to use the tools we didn't need for glass flowers. He made a clear glass vase which was pretty cool. But during the First Friday demonstration I saw they were working on a couple of pieces that were a lot more complex, requiring multiple people to create. 

My flower on display.
In addition to glass flowers the studio offers other beginner classes where you can make anything from a paperweight to a Christmas ornament or flowers like we made. They also sell vases, bowls, jewelry and other items made in the studio.

I'd love to go back and make ornaments around Christmas time. I'm thinking about suggesting it as a group event to my book club, but I need to research the cost for a class without the coupon and see if there is a limit to how many people can come. My guess is that there is since the studio isn't large and they have to provide and instructor.

I managed to get a few pictures of us making our flowers. Check them out below!

Me watching the instructor stretch my flower's stem.

Heating the glass after adding color.

Rolling the stem in color.

We had to make a cut in the glass
for where the stem would break off the rod.

Using the jack to pull out petals.

Stretching the stem on Amanda's flower.
There's a very short window to do this before the glass hardens.

Our instructor making a vase.

Amanda checking out the shop items.

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