Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Glass Blowing Shop - Wednesday Field Trip

Well, my week got somewhat derailed, so I am late posting this. Sick kidlet, so mommy goofs off. (ya know... laundry, raking leaves...)

On Wednesday we had the wonderful opportunity to visit a glass blowing artist's factory. My son got to make a glass ornament! His older sister was so jealous... ("I never got to do that!...)

McFadden Art Glass in Baltimore  allowed our homeschool group to come in for a tour and to make glass art projects.  First we were given some information about how one works with glass. Then my son discussed with Mr. McFadden what he wanted to make and what colors. He decided on a Christmas ornament.

First, there is an oven where steel rods are heated. (I didn't write down temperatures, but each oven is real hot... I think one of the ovens was at least 2000 degrees...) The steel has to be heated so that the glass will stick to it, and not harden and shatter immediately.
 The rod is taken from the heating oven to the oven with the molten glass, and is then dipped into the molten glass.
The hot blob of glass gets dipped into the colored glass particles.

The glass blog gets heated again to melt the colors and make it ready to be worked with. I love the way Mr. McFadden lets the kids do as much of it as they can. It's scary, but cool. So, next the rod with the glass blog comes out and gets worked around a bit on the cold steel table.
 The rod begins to get hot, so it gets cooled down in a special water fountain. 

Another member of our group helped out and blew air into the ornament while JD kept the rod turning and worked on shaping the ornament with a tool.

 When the ornament was the right size, the glass was scored so that with a tap it would separate from the glass sticking to the steel rod.

 Then, by touching the hot steel to the top of the ornament, the hot glass can be worked with again to make the glass loop that the ornament will hang from. It is manipulated with tools until it is just perfect.

When it is finally done, it cannot be taken home yet. It is carefully carried to the cooling oven, where it will be cooled slowly over 12 hours so that it doesn't crack and break. Then we will get to take it home.

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