Author: Parker Stafford

Art and Design, Education, glassblowing, Uncategorized

Glassblowing Classes At Stafford Art Glass

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Classes in glassblowing are without a doubt a blast. This entry will provide you with what you need to know when registering for a class.

First, you need to know that most of our classes are actually one-on-one instruction with time slots on our registration page so we can teach each person one at a time. That means that each slot on our registration calendar is for one person making whatever item they have chosen to make. There are a couple of exceptions to thus rule, such as our day-long and weekend classes. More about those later…

A light moment with an evening group of enthusiastic glassblowers

This also means that if you are coming with a group and you are signing up for slots on a per-person basis, you will each want to book a slot that is back-to-back with the other people in your group.

Helpful tip:

Check out the length of our classes that require one person per time slot to figure out the amount of time your group will be at the studio. This is found on the booking calendar where you go to register. If you have seven people and everyone wants to make an item that takes an hour to make (again-see the time allotted on the registration form or class description) and decide if your group is willing to wait that long. In some cases, coming to the studio in batches of two or three people might make more sense.

Basic Requirements

Okay, you are signed up to make a suncatcher, here is what you need to do to blow glass…

Cotton shirt & jeans. Gloves and eye protection: Judy is ready to blow glass.

Your clothing needs to be cotton because synthetic melts. Check your clothes and yes, Spandex is synthetic. Dress comfortably. Shirts with long sleeves are a plus because they protect your arms which will get the most heat exposure. We have arm and eye protection.

Shoes must cover your feet. No sandals, flip-flops, pumps, or slippery shoes. Sneakers are great.

Age Range

Age ranges are ten years and up. Anyone younger can be on the blowing floor selecting colors and directing the making of a piece but children younger than this are too small to handle the blow pipes safely. However, we encourage young children to come and watch and have input on their own custom design. It is still lots of fun. All minor children must be accompanied by a parent.

Other Important Bits

Other things to consider are whether you are sensitive to heat. Elderly often have less ability to manage keeping their bodies cool. Please let us know if you are heat sensitive so we can keep you safe.

One-on-one Classes Vs. Group Classes

As described earlier in the post many classes are designed for one person at a time. These include ornaments, suncatchers, paperweights, drinking glasses, and bowls. Our group classes are a different animal entirely.

In a group class, namely our day-long and weekend class, up to four people per instructor needs to be registered for a class to “make.” If you can find four people, we will provide you or your group with discounts which save us from advertising for and finding the participants. Often if you are short people, we can try on our end to find participants.

These classes are taught to the entire group, with participants watching as each person has their turn making a variety of items. There is less “hand-holding” in these classes and participants do all of the steps involved in the making of pieces. This is a slower process but you will learn more. In our ornament class, for example, you will do about 70% of the steps with our instructor doing the other 30% to make sure the piece turns out near-perfect.

A day or weekend class takes you through vessels like tumblers and bowls, and also includes paperweights and suncatchers/ornaments. Depending on what time is left in the day, participants can choose additional pieces to make if they want. This is decided as a group.

You Can’t Take It With You?

All glass blown must anneal in our kilns. That means items made cannot be taken the day you make them but must be picked up later. Each class description on our site will tell you when you can expect to pick up your pieces. And yes, we are happy to arrange to ship your pieces to you if you can’t pick them up later.

To see our classes and what is available right now this link will take you to that page on our site:

Parker Stafford is the owner of Stafford Art Glass, a gallery and studio that produces a broad range of original designs in glass. The studio is located in Newport, Virginia.


New Glass Designs: Orbitals

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I hope everyone had a great holiday. It’s been a busy one at Stafford Art Glass. A shout-out goes to all the people who helped make our Fall season so much fun!

For years I gave been making oversized suncatchers for our clients. This came about organically when someone who was looking at my small 4-inch ornaments wondered if I could make them way bigger for a large window in their new home. The Orbital was born.

Orbitals are about 9 inches in diameter and are made to fill a window with color. Hung by a thin stainless wire, the piece doesn’t get lost like smaller suncatchers do.

In the Fall of 2017 I began designing new Orbitals for the line. Up until that time every piece was unique and people were wanting us to make them copies of pieces they had bought for themselves or for their friends as gifts. The idea was to go crazy with color…and with the names for them.

Blown glass suncatcher, rich transparent colors, nine inches in diameter
Orbital-photo by Stafford Art Glass

That’s Blue Sky Riot, in the picture above. It’s blue with a riot of other colors thrown in, naturally!

  • Approx. 9″ diameter
  • Ships within 3 days of your order
  • Includes story card and stainless wire with directions for hanging
  • Made by hand in our studio

Handblown suncatcher in rich colors, nine inches in diameter
Orbital-photo by Stafford Art Glass

Purple Mango Multiverse is a great pairing of purples, oranges, and reds. Perfect for a lover of all things purple.

  • Approx. 9″ diameter
  • Ships within 3 days of your order
  • Includes story card and stainless wire with directions for hanging
  • Made by hand in our studio

Milette's Garden is a large scale suncatcher in light green, golds, with light splashes of purples and pinks. This suncatcher is handblown and is approximately nine inches in diameter.
Orbital-photo by Stafford Art Glass

Millette’s Garden, which is lighter and has ribs that fold color, seeks to create a feeling of all things natural. A splash of blue, a hint of cranberry, this piece is subtle while elegant…but in a country garden kind of way.

  • Approx. 9″ diameter
  • Ships within 3 days of your order
  • Includes story card and stainless wire with directions for hanging
  • Made by hand in our studio

Caliope is a large scale handblown suncatcher in a beautiful mix of colors and is approximately nine inches in diameter.
Orbital-photo by Stafford Art Glass

Caliope is a georgeous mix of colors including blue, green, purple, orange, gold, and red, a combination that works in virtually any decor (hint: it’s also very popular with our customers).

  • Approx. 9″ diameter
  • Ships within 3 days of your order
  • Includes story card and stainless wire with directions for hanging
  • Made by hand in our studio

A handblown suncatcher with bands of color from reds and golds to blues and green. Nine inches in diameter, approximately.
Orbital-photo by Stafford Art Glass

Earth Wind And Fire. This piece reminds us of Hawaii. There, you will find active volcanoes spewing molten lava into the ocean. At that interface all of the colors in this piece are represented in dramatic fashion.

  • Approx. 9″ diameter
  • Ships within 3 days of your order
  • Includes story card and stainless wire with directions for hanging
  • Made by hand in our studio

There are many more Orbitals to shop for in our online store. Every piece is made here, is signed and ships with stainless wire for hanging along with instructions on how to hang your piece. Look for the link at the end of this post.

A Closeup & Our Promise To You

We pack a lot of color into our pieces. No two are precisely alike, but we guarantee that if you like the sample, you will love the one we send to you. If not, you are welcome to return it, no questions asked, up to two weeks after its arrival.

We hope you enjoy this closeup of a Caliope piece!

Beautiful closeup of transparent colors of a Caliope Orbital, a large nine inch handblown suncatcher
Closeup of Caliope Orbital – photo by Stafford Art Glass

Saving Money With Stafford Art Glass

I have announced specials on Facebook in the past and found lots of people asking me where to find the specials once I had already announced them just the day before. I would explain, “I just put it up on our Facebook page!” But a lot of people weren’t seeing our posts. I wondered why. For many, it was because they didn’t “follow” our page. Facebook has been throttling our exposure on your feed unless our fans click “follow” not just “like.” Talk about setting up hurdles. Sometimes even if you are a follower, you can miss our announcements in the tumble of the Facebook feed.

This got to be a problem. I decided to solve this problem and put all of my specials, offers, events, and promotions into one email that would get sent out each month. Then our customers would have all of the most important information at their fingertips! The V.I.P. Insider was born. I found out this was what other businesses have had to do because on social media, data is constantly moving, and if you snooze you can lose important announcements. An email is they way to deal with this.

This is the best way to save on our glass. Promotional pricing can be up to 60% off regular retail through our specials. Some specials, like Seconds, which are only available at the studio, are off even more! We recently sold a vase that would have been $80.00 for less than $20.00. It wasn’t even a second. The customer asked why it was a second. I explained I had no idea why it had not sold. It was beautiful, but it simply sat. It was a classic shape, and beautiful color. The customer felt the same way (and saved a lot of money!), so I decided it was time to mark it down. These are limited to sales at our studio and we announce them through my Insider newsletter.

I issue coupon codes good for each month for specific items bought online. I issue coupon codes for $ off classes or workshops at the studio too. In 2019 alone, customers saved over $1400.00 on classes at the studio. Some discounts were $6.00 for ornaments while others like pumpkins were $10.00 off per piece that they made.

For example, for the month of March, Orbitals will be 30% off. There will be a coupon for free shipping, too. You can get this and other discount codes by subscribing to the V.IP. Insider.

We promise we wont load up your inbox with spammy emails and it’s super easy to unsubscribe at any time. You can sign up for our V.I.P. Insider HERE.

Here’s the link to our SITE

Here’s to another great year. I’m looking forward to it!


Art and Design, Creativity, glassblowing, sculpture

Upcoming Work For 2020

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Photo By Chris Risch

There is a lot in the works for this Spring at Stafford Art Glass. We just finished up a very busy and successful Fall season designing new work such as suncatchers we call Orbitals, ornaments, some new bowl designs as well as Christmas trees, which were a snuck-up-from-behind hit this year.

We had an incredible response to our class offerings, namely pumpkins and ornaments, which many folks in the area came to participate in.

I have taken off January in order to get some much needed work done around the studio, including building pedestals for the gallery, and designing a new glass reheating mini furnace. I am also getting caught up on a writing project that has been on the drawing board for a number of years. This isn’t glass or art related, but I have managed to make some headway, and that is a good thing!

Plywood for pedestals is clamped for a final precision cut prior to assembly.
Rough assembly of a large pedestal.
Wheels have arrived for our mini-furnace!

I have new redesigns of an old favorite from the Fiamma Series, which will be interesting to see.

I will be making yard and garden ornaments in time for Spring.

I am going to set up a new class online, a class on making your own bowl. You will be able to find that class later in the Spring at Stafford Art Glass. See you there!

Stay glassy, friends! Stop by our Facebook page to see some of our newest news and to get a dose of inspiration!


The Ways Creativity Helps To Elevate Our Lives

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I have known first hand the benefits that creativity has had for me for many years. I have studied creativity and how it has effected everything from improving cognition, problem solving, to elevating mood. Studies have been offering up many insights about the many benefits that creativity has to offer that bears being aware about.

Before I count the many ways, let me first acknowledge the elephant in the room many of you are no doubt thinking about and it probably goes something like this, “That’s great, Parker, but I’m just not creative!”

First, let me explain that you don’t have to be an immense talent in order to enjoy what you are doing. Children are born creative and artistic for the simple reason that they aren’t concerned about whether they are good or not. You might love to drive, but are you going to be a Formula1 race car driver? You don’t need to be a prima donna balerina to be able to enjoy dancing, right? As children, we embrace life and many activities like the arts, with abandon. Children simply don’t worry about what their art looks like, they just enjoy the act of coloring or shaping clay, singing, or dancing. The self-consciousness about not being able to make their art or creative output look or sound like a professional doesn’t happen until children get older, afterwhich most of the child artists slowly fade away. This condition is reversible and it is as simple as coaxing a turtle out of its shell.

The key, or one of them, is to begin with what you like, go with what really excites and inspires you. It doesn’t even need to be about being great at technique. It could be as simple as your love of color, so start there. You might love nature, so begin there; looking at flowers, leaves, trees, mountains or water. Then let that love carry you forward. When you love something it is much easier to throw your whole heart into it. Follow your heart.

I’ll admit to you that I love fire. I also like making things in art, not just drawings or paintings. It led me to casting metal in college and then later blowing glass. It isn’t all of what I love about 3-D art, but that love pushed me forward to also develop the skills necessary to work the material to higher and higher levels of refinement. It was hard work, but it was well worth the technical hurdles and challenges. To find what you love, this might involve some exploration. Maybe its music, or dance, or knitting, or building furniture. All of it is creative. That said, let me enumerate some of the big points that creativity brings out in nearly everyone.

Creativity Is Play

Being able to play is important in our lives. Play helps us to create a break from the worries or pressures of life. Play supports an important spectrum of feel-good chemistry in our bodies that helps to elevate mood.

Creativity Helps Combat Depression

When you are wrapped up in a creative project, it gives your mind a focus that washes away the blues. Being able to keep your mind moving from one choice to another leads to being able to crowd out what you have been dwelling on that keeps you worried or feeling stuck. Plus, there are a lot of feel good chemicals we reward ourselves with when we enjoy doing something that can help us feel and be healthier.

Creativity Uses The Whole Brain

We know now that the left brain acts as a rational linear processor while the right brain is holistic, nonlinear, and is the feeling part of ourselves. It’s curious how when you look at our technological developments, the bulk of them are rooted in linear processing. Being able to build into your life something that will engage your right brain, the opposite of the linear task master left brain, and shifting into right brain activity will also help you relate better to your own feelings. Creative pursuits definately taps emotional intelligence as part of our process of expressing ourselves. It’s not hard to be analytical, try changing how you feel by a form of self expression. Being creative has the power to reach into feeling and helps you turn on a dime emotionally.

By using both your feeling self and your rational self, you can do what results in a synthesis between the two.

Hint: this is where inspiration dwells and that’s the secret sauce that artists credit for being wildly creative.

Creativity Helps You To Be A Better Problem Solver

So whole brain thinking is a real plus, but this also helps with something problems, be they creative, or saving the world. Whole brain thinking allows you to see both the micro view and the meta view, allowing you the flexibility to make more inclusive conclusions and make more considered decisions.

Creativity Boosts Self-Esteem

If you can really enjoy what you are doing creatively, it boosts your feel-good chemistry and that can make you feel good about yourself, a glow that has a tendency to stay on for a while after you are done with your project or creative activity. Giving yourself the gift of time with something that you enjoy helps you to keep in mind the importance of self-care. That, too, is an important element in learning how to keep feeling good.

But wait! There’s more! In studies just on the effects music lessons have on children, the advantages go far beyond just being good at music.

In children who had music lessons, their grades across the board improved because of how music uses so many different parts of the brain. But this is an advantage adults can realize also. In a recent study people who studied music, for example, had increased cognitive abilities, memory improvement, decreased aging and dementia, better language skill, higher I.Q. and better grades.

All arts have similar results, and the benefits go far beyond being good at something, practicing art literally lights up the brain, and that has far reaching results for all of us.

Perhaps this is why people who come to the studio to make things have such a bounce in their step and a smile on their face. The arts are transformative!

To learn about the results of the music study, click HERE.

Photo Credit: Christopher Risch

Parker Stafford is an educator and glass artist living and working in the New River Valley of Virginia. He is the owner of Stafford Art Glass in Newport. You may find him on Facebook and his work at his website.