#GetYourHairWet: Adventures in Glassblowing

It’s pretty safe to say that taking a glassblowing class is anything but chilly (in fact, the studio I was in had three furnaces which, collectively, reached over 6,000 degrees fahrenheit), but the one thing you’ll find yourself saying more than anything else is, “Cool!” That’s because this is an activity that blends art, science, exercise, teamwork, and yes, even a little bit of personal spirituality. It’s even cooler when you consider that glassblowing was once an art form almost dominated by men, and it’s now become an increasingly female-driven movement.

Take for instance, the workshop I took at Philadelphia’s The Crefeld School. Not only were most of my fellow classmates women of various ages and backgrounds, but our instructors were Julia Eckenrode and Kat Iannitto, two spirited, talented, and all-around awesome ladies who just happen to be best friends.

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Eckenrode and Iannitto both agree that one class is all it takes for a person to find their passion in the art of glassblowing, and they weren’t kidding. Over the course of six hours, me and my fellow glass-mates (sorry) were taught how to make a paperweight and a cup, all while learning the mechanics and the movements that go into making this happen.

While safety is always a priority in a glassblowing studio (don’t forget those goggles!), one thing that goes right out the window is doubt and fear. Sitting in front of those furnaces and seeing the various tools you’ll be working with seems intimidating at first, but you quickly learn that you’re making a unique piece of art and that you’re in control.

Yes, it is can be a challenge at times, especially because you are in constant movement during the process, but you always have someone by your side to cheer you on and assist you. Whether it’s a partner or instructor helping you determine the right amount of molten glass on to your rod to begin the construction of your piece, or guiding you as you blow a perfectly-sized bubble. (Yep, that’s me doing just that below. Turns out, it’s just as easy as blowing any regular bubble!)

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Though nothing came entirely naturally to me during the process, I still had a ton of fun learning and seeing the art and science of it all unfold before my eyes. I loved how much of it was a collaborative process and that you’re never on your own while creating your work. Glassblowing felt like an art class that combined the physical motions of yoga practice (hot yoga, naturally) and the connection one must make to the mind and body throughout.

When you’re glassblowing, you aren’t looking for perfection. Sometimes what you set out to do becomes something entirely different, and ultimately better in the end. In six short hours, I not only learned the beginner’s techniques of glassblowing, I learned that the trying, just like anything else in life, is what matters the most.

As Kristy Modarelli, the Assistant to the Head at the Crefeld School, urges any other Smart Girl interest in learning glassblowing, “Try it out! Find a public studio in your area and take a beginner class. It’s a very fun, challenging, and unique experience even if a person just tries it out once.”

Images via Aly Semigran