Monday, September 16, 2013

Zen of Glass

Glass sculpture outside the
Chiluly Collection, downtown
St Petersburg
St Petersburg is a glass town.  Notably, the Chiluly Collection is on display downtown. I've yet to make it there during appropriate hours, which is ridiculous given how enticing the sculpture outside is, but it is on my list of museums to check out.
Working with torch

Because St. Petersburg has a thriving creative community, I have, however, managed to see two glassblowing demonstrations in the past month.

The first was on the day I signed up for a painting class at the Morean Arts Center. Conveniently, their glass studio hot shop next door had a demo starting moments later, so I zipped over to watch David Spurgeon create a vase.
High heat work.

The second demo was last Saturday night, at Zen Glass Studio. Having checked out the downtown portion of Second Saturday last month, I wandered over to the warehouse district this time, over on 27th Street South. Zen Glass had the doors wide open to dissipate some of the heat and invite wandering folks like me in to see glass work in action.

As in the first demo, there was some handing off of the project back and forth as the piece was shaped, reformed, added to, cooled, reheated, and throughout, continuously twirled of the metal tube to keep it symmetrical. It is something akin to dancing watching people move through the studio (if dancer involved a lot more fire).

I spoke briefly with one of the founders of Zen Glass, Joshua Boll, who reported that he has been working with glass for 17 years (to which, in my head, I was thinking, so they handed you a torch when you were 5 years old?  Presumably, however, he is older than he looks), and clearly remains enthusiastic and enamored with the possibilities of glass.

I put my name in the jar for the free class drawing, so I'm waiting by the phone for the call to tell me I'm the big winner.

"What are you looking at?" look from glassblower.
(Answer: flame & glass)

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