What better thing to do on a cold winter’s day than go warm up at a glass blowing studio? Today’s blog activity brings us to Peter Greenwood Glass Blowing Studio in Riverton, CT. After the marver-lous (glass-lingo joke) afternoon we spent with Peter making not one, but three masterpieces, we firmly believe that everyone should give this a go.
As Peter’s website states, anyone from 5-95 can blow glass. Here we are to prove his point…
Post sponsored by Peter Greenwood Glass Blowing Studio
The glass blowing workshops offered by Peter can be designed for all levels – beginner to advanced. With us, Peter would be teaching to “no experience” (Lora) and “done it a couple of times at camp a long time ago” (Bev). Safety tips reviewed and safety glasses donned, we were ready. A little nervous (it’s hot) but ready!
The two-hour workshop we experienced allowed us to graduate through the skills needed to a) get used to handling hot blobby glass that has a mind of its own, and b) become more confident. Confident enough to make a paperweight, a flower, and a vase. Exciting, exhilarating, and so much fun!
In both technical, and very untechnical terms, here are the steps to making a paperweight!
Peter gathers a blob of molten glass from the crucible. Then he passes the blowpipe over so that we can pick up some color. Rolling or “marvering” the hot glass blob distributes the color evenly and helps shape our future paperweight!
The glory hole keeps the glass hot between steps.
Here’s Lora, sticking her blowpipe in the glory hole. Yes, we laughed at that sentence for a long time. Nobody said you had to be mature to blow glass.
A mold was used to make this awesome design.
After Peter gathers some more glass to layer over our color, we sit at the bench and use the block to shape and cool the piece.
Using jacks, we score a ridge near the base of the paperweight. Then, as Lora demonstrates, compressed air helps to weaken the ridge further. Peter then gives it a little tap, and voila, a paperweight! Into the annealer it goes to cool down super gradually.
Though it looks red, it will end up being blue when it cools down.
Feeling very pleased with ourselves, we’re ready to go again. A flower? We’ve got this!
Peter explains the process and is very careful not to give too many steps at a time. We appreciate this because when he starts talking about stretching, snipping, and twisting, our eyes must have widened quite a bit.
The flower involves marvering the glass into a fat sausage shape (for lack of a better description) and dipping the tip straight down into the glass color which we had previously selected. A quick re-heat in the glory hole requires keeping the pipe rolling to prevent the hot taffy-like creation from drooping. Challenging!
Back at the bench, we keep things rolling and stop to snip each petal with the shears. After that, we clamp and pull each segment to form the petals. All of this has to be done quickly. Pressure! We could probably file this post under Fitness because our heart rates were definitely elevated!
Then some bending, pulling, and twisting, and voila, a flower!
Now that we have the skills of a well established beginner…we graduate to the blowing part of glass blowing!
The vase involved (just going to throw in every glass blowing word we learned, k?) gathering, marvering, blowing, jack-ing, blocking, and paddling. The finale – making a straight lip of the vase and fanning it out to create the perfect opening. Well, we decided our slightly wonky vases were pretty “cute”.
At the end of our lesson, Peter told us we were both very “on center” with our marvering, which made us feel great. In fact, Peter was very encouraging and patient throughout the entire workshop. He loves passing on the thrill of glassblowing.
As we said earlier, the studio is located in Riverton, which is a historic district in the town of Barkhamsted, tucked away at the top of Litchfield County. Peter and his wife bought the stone church, built in 1829, from the Hitchcock Chair Company in 2005. The upstairs is where you’ll find Peter’s work. He truly has some impressive pieces. We particularly loved the glow-in-the-dark glass. An accomplished glass blower who has traveled the world in his professional career, you can read all about Peter here.
This was an afternoon not to be forgotten. We can entirely see how this would be good for team building, which is something Peter offers. Grab your friends and go do this. We insist. We left feeling very pleased with ourselves and a general sense of awesomeness.
3 Robertsville Road, Riverton, CT 06065
Words: Bev / Pics: Lora