Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glass Blowing Demonstrations October 2nd and 3rd, 9th and 10th

Please join me as I open my studio for glass blowing demonstrations the next two weekends, October 2nd and 3rd, 9th and 10th from 11am to 5pm each day in conjunction with Cedar Creek Gallery's 43rd Annual Fall Pottery and Glass Festival. I will be rotating with two other glass blowers in my studio so you will get to see a fairly continuous glass demonstration all day. In addition there will be glass demonstrations in the Four Winds Glass Studio, pottery demonstrations, wood turning demonstrations, live music and more. Click here to see the entire schedule of events.

Also, Friday, October 1st 6 – 10pm will be the opening and Artist Reception for Cedar Creek Gallery's newest show, Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild: A Tradition of Excellence. It will feature the work of sixty-five of the guild’s premier artists, many of whom will be on hand for the opening. Harrison Harper will be blowing glass from 5:30 - 7:30pm in my studio as well (this isn't on the schedule of events).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Studio Visitor

Just in time for Halloween, I found a black widow spider. I was lubricating the blower that provides forced air for my glass furnace and glory hole. I've done it once a month for fourteen years, so I don't think much about it. My hand was down in the blower "house" loosening a bolt when I kept seeing a flash of red. I took a closer look at the spider I had shrugged off a few minutes earlier. Thank goodness she was belly up or I would never have noticed her.

She was happy to pose for pictures once I came back with my camera. And then, since I have to keep maintaining the blower once a month, I smashed her.

Replacing the Crucible

Summertime is way too hot to blow glass. So usually glass blowers sit back in the air conditioning with our feet up, sipping cold beverages. Okay, that was really a joke.

When the furnace is down our minds turn to studio maintenance. It's certainly not my favorite thing to do, but it's necessary. I have to admit with all the help I had pulling the pot this year it was actually fun (I really didn't do any of the work). John Martin, Harrison Harper, Elijah Leed and Nate Halsey all helped make it happen with lightening speed. Thanks guys!!

Why does the pot (or crucible) have to be removed from the furnace? The crucible is made of a high temperature ceramic, made to withstand temperatures in excess of 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass is corrosive to the crucible so over time little pits develop. If left too long these pits could actually grow large enough to be a hole all the way through the pot - and the molten glass would run out into the bottom of the furnace. And that means unplanned down time and LOTS more equipment maintenance.

Usually I take the furnace apart and proactively replace the crucible once a year. Prior to doing that I can melt colored glass. Residue of color added to the crucible will tint future glass, so if you melt clear glass you really can only melt clear glass... until you are ready to replace the pot.
It's quite an exciting time! This year we melted turquoise, cobalt and black glass. I will admit I let a little glass drip over the side of the pot thinking that might look good. And it is quite beautiful.

Once the furnace was all put back together we started "firing up". The process of heating up to 2300 degrees and melting a pot of glass takes about a week, since we don't want to crack the new crucible. Now we are back blowing glass - the glass is hot and we're sweaty!