Education

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:

www.staffordartglass.com/classes

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.

Education, glassblowing

Holiday Schedule


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Recently I had an element failure very near the end of the Christmas season. When I ordered new elements, I was told to expect them by a given date. I made some promises to folks whose bookings were impacted by the unexpected outage and the elements didn’t show. As of today (12/26) I am still without elements. I won’t get them, UPS says, until the 27th. Once bitten, I will wait and see if I get the elements on the 27th or not. Frustrating all the way around!

 

I will be going out of town the first of the month and will return the second week of January. I won’t be running the furnace up for a couple of days only to turn it off once I go out of town. It takes about two to three days to get the furnace up to temperature, and about the same to get it to room temperature. As a result, the furnace will be turned on again on the 11th and should be up by the 13th IF NOTHING GOES WRONG. People might wonder what could go wrong, and I explain the elements should have lasted about ten months, not just two, so that is an example of the unexpected things that can happen.

 

For now, the booking calendar is down. It will go back up once everything is running smoothly again. Expect that to happen somewhere around the 13th to 14th of January. Then those of you who were impacted by the recent gyrations at the studio, to get your sessions in again, should you wish…again, with my apologies.

 

The blog post right after this one serves as a really good primer for how to use the calendar. I hope everyone has had a great time visiting family and friends this holiday and I hope to see you at the studio soon!

Happy New Year!

 

~Parker

Art and Design, Education, glassblowing

Why Art


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The Preamble

Note: In late October I began to dig out my studio after having sold my home and moved onto the studio property. While renovating a mobile home on the property originally intended for an employee to live in, I decided the best way to do it was if I lived in it during this period of transition. The studio was packed with belongings and I began to move out the things I wanted to keep and toss what I don’t need anymore.

The glass furnace was in the process of being rebuilt when I had a furnace block fall on my hand, nearly pinning me under the block. This catalyzed an effort to do what I had not done in years past, which was to add automation in the form of pneumatic cylinders controlled by foot pedals to open and close furnace doors.  Sounds like a simple thing, and it is, but the implementation wound up being more complicated and drawn out than expected.  But then, this can often be the case when engineering “one-off’s”.

The result has been a subtle but important transformation taking place at the studio.  The vent hood,which controls the ventilation was also updated in a significant way, essentially enclosing the vent hood completely in order to help make evacuating hot air from the studio more effective.  It will result in a more comfortable experience for me, my assistants, and for those taking classes there in the future.

The injury to my hand slowed me way down from where I planned on being, but it also opened up a new avenue that I am glad is now largely completed.  Despite delays from the engineering firm, I have managed to get all of the automation done that I have wanted to do for years but never did.  As a result, I am looking to the Fall of 2018 as a time when I will begin holding workshops again while also beginning production work again after a long hiatus teaching at the university.

I will be baking into my design of my website the ability to see the schedule and register for any and all classes from the convenience of your computer or mobile phone.  I am working with a web designer who will be including commerce solutions for purchasing work and for making the process of connecting with the studio more streamlined.  Those changes will be rolled out in the Fall, but for updates and important announcements, follow the studio on Facebook HERE.

If the link doesn’t work for your device, copy and paste this link into your browser:

https://www.facebook.com/Stafford-Art-Glass-273860936858/

 


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The “Why” (and How)

We create to express and communicate ideas, feelings, and experiences. The arc of art is so broad and takes in such broad swaths of considerations and mindsets. It’s been used to express religious fervor and religious ideas, political propaganda, social justice (speaking truth to power) as well as recreating the beauty of nature. Art accepts all comers. The only rule is that there are no rules. You get to make your own. How that winds up turning out is really up to the artist, and if you are a professional artist, your ideas need to hit a nerve in order to gain acceptance most often. If, however, you create art as a hobby, you are the freest of the free; you can create just as you wish to create. I have, as I have gotten older, sought a path through both of these polarities because I have found that my greatest discoveries came when I wasn’t worried about the bottom line. It has also served to inform my teaching at the university level as well as in my own studio.

Glass takes years to learn. It is gymnastic in the sense that there is a lot of muscle memory involved, and all of this takes time and patience.  The best glass workers have been at this for their whole lives and they make what they do look easy when it is anything but that.  When I began introducing people to glass I realized that there is this considerable gap that exists with people and their skill level in glass that disrupted their ability to enjoy the material as an expressive medium. As a result of this, I developed a way of working with students in the studio to help fill the technical gap for the time being and working on what they can do on a technical level straight out of the gate in producing glass objects.  This method has resulted in being able to give people from all walks the fullest experience in glass possible without having to spend years developing the requisite skills necessary.  Since glass is a very expensive medium, it makes learning very expensive also.  Not everyone wants to be a maestro, some are content with running around the block to see what glass blowing is all about.

This process is effectively 75% student work with 25% hand-holding by the teacher.  This 25% consists of techniques critical to the successful creation of glass objects and represent a technical level that can take weeks or months to master just one of them.  Instead of taking weeks worth of repetition, I pick up that part and we work together to ferry objects like ornaments, suncatchers, vases, bowls, and paperweights to their completion on a first-go. This is also why the workshops have been so popular.  Most studios do not provide this level of access to the glass for beginners. I have found that by teaching in this way, I can help provide a closeup introduction to glass without years of preparation and work. For those who are serious about learning glass, they will grab the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done to accomplish that level of mastery.  For everyone else, it seems my method as developed works very well for the beginner.

 

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A suncatcher made by a first-time student

 

My process is to encourage the student to follow the glass and what it wants to do.  This may not sound like the kind of control that is necessary for a medium like glass, but over years of experience, glass has a quality that when you allow it to be itself, can and does do some really amazing things.  Instead of working in a precisely controlled way, I suggest more room for surprises to occur for students so they can witness the expressive potential of glass.  As a result there are creations that are far more complex and interesting than if they had been carefully controlled. Don’t get me wrong, control is necessary in being able to reproduce results in a production environment, but this is not what we are doing in a class.  In a class we are trying to get the biggest bang for our buck here: we seek to explore as broadly as possible in a very limited time frame.  The student, then, gets a snapshot of the potential that glass has. The results are nothing short of amazing, though, and is one reason why even when I am not offering classes, I tend on average to field three to four inquiries a month about classes even though I have not offered them now for a number of years.

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Closeup of a student suncatcher

Some folks are content sitting and watching glass being made in the studio. The ability to sit and watch glass being blown is free here at the studio.  We encourage everyone who wants to to sit in and learn a thing or two. For those who are not content to sit on their hands and watch, there are the classes.

If you are interested in classes, or just to come watch glass being blown, announcements will be made publicly on my Facebook page. Classes will include offhand glassblowing, and torch worked glass (bead making). Glassblowing will be available first while the bead making studio has to be built around the torches I already have in-house and will take some time to build the tables, venting, and small kilns, tools, etc., in place before classes can be offered. My hope is that I will be offering both by next Fall. Please “like” my Facebook page  to remain up to date on events and classes there. For those who want to know when a class is being offered, I recommend also that you email me at info@staffordartglass.com and include “classes” in the subject heading.  This will enable me to bring up all of the inquiries over a period of time and respond to them very quickly and easily.  And no, we wont spam you.  If you want off the list, you will be removed promptly.  For the rest, there is the Facebook page below:

https://www.facebook.com/Stafford-Art-Glass-273860936858/