Last week I spent a week at The Glass Hub for their Glass Summer School.
As you might have seen I tried making lampwork beads recently and fell in love, but I was very aware that there is more to glass than beads. I wanted to find out more, but didn't even know what was possible, so when I stumbled across the Summer School I had to attend.
Each day we tried a different sort of glass work and learnt some of the basics for each discipline. It was a brilliant week and filled my mind with ideas and questions. The only downside was having to wait until lunchtime each day to see our work from the day before!
Day 1: Fusing
This is where you work with the glass cold to create designs, then put the cold glass in a kiln so that it melts together. Once the pieces are fused you can then add shape to them by slumping in a cooler kiln.
This was great. I learnt how to cut and grind the glass and learnt how to make the stress in the glass work for me.
Day 2: Glass blowing
This was the one that made me the most nervous. I don't like hot things, so was worried about how I'd cope with the molten glass but actually it was ok. We started just twisting the glass. Then we made a paperweight. Next we blew a bauble and lastly we made a vase each.
Looking at my work the next day I could hardly believe I'd had anything to do with the making of them.
Day 3: Lampwork
This is an area I've played in before, so I was mostly interested to see what other techniques our tutor might have that I'd not tried before. She blew my mind by showing me how to work on the end of the mandral so the hole doesn't go all the way through! Woah!
Day 4: Glass blowing
We were back in the hot shop (and it really was hot - the weather was beautiful but very hot!) to work on our glass blowing again. We made tumblers and a bowl/plate (we could chose) then had the afternoon to make what we wanted. I made another bauble and another paperweight, but this time using copper leaf rather than frit inside to give it the colour.
Day 5: Casting
On our last day we were shown how to make a plaster mould and fill it with glass. This then went into the kiln to be cooked. We also had a go at sand casting - a much quicker process.
The whole week was amazing and I learnt so much. There were only 3 of us in the group which made it feel like 1 on 1 training which was fab. And all the tutors were so friendly and happy to answer ALL our questions. They were also very open to experimentation which was very refreshing. Glass can be a little unpredictable so when we asked if we could try something they helped us do it in the safest manner possible.
So now I've got loads of idea of things I can try at home. Not just the lampworking, but the fusing and casting, which although smaller than we did in class should still work in my baby kiln.
With Bath being quite the commute I got an Airbnb for the week, which allowed me to have a very relaxing week off. I was a little worred about doing this so close to my race, but it was actually perfect. A nice place to run in the mornings before class, a brilliant learning experience and then relaxing evenings knitting or reading. I came back feeling refreshed and ready to run!