Flameworking: Learning to Make Glass at The Studio

Flameworking!
Flameworking!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about what I’ve been up to for the last few months at The Corning Museum of Glass. I’ve been working hard, but I’ve allowed a bit of time for fun, too. Each Tuesday night for the past ten weeks, I’ve gone back to the museum after hours to learn how to manipulate this magic material.

The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass is one of the foremost glass schools in the world, welcoming countless students and glass artists each year. It’s a place where tradition is celebrated and passed down. Glass is an art form that can’t be learned from a book or by watching someone’s YouTube channel. Knowledge must be shared—teacher to student.

My beads!

My beads!

Different types of classes are available at The Studio all year round—including 40-minute “Make Your Own Glass” experiences, which give the public a taste for glassmaking. During the spring and fall, 10-week classes are offered, allowing people—typically locals—to get an in-depth introduction to their chosen glassmaking technique. (Weekend workshops are offered for those who want to learn a technique but may not live nearby).

Make Your Own Glass

Make Your Own Glass

I fell in love with flameworking the first time I sat at a torch more than a decade ago. This is a technique that involves melting glass rods over a 4,000° torch to create beads, small animals, etc. I took a 10-week flameworking class during my senior year of high school, learning to manipulate clear borosilicate glass. I enjoyed it so much, I took it again the same year, but this time, I focused on making small beads.

I haven’t done much with it since, as any type of glassmaking requires a very special set of resources, but this year, I decided to take the 10-week beadmaking class offered at The Studio. I wanted to focus on learning to make glass jewelry.

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Anyone who knows me is keenly aware of my painful indecision. Each week, I go into the flame shop and grab just about every color imaginable from the drawers of glass. It doesn’t help that I consult my good friend Pinterest before most of the classes. I always have lofty ambitions—I’m going to make gorgeous beads using techniques I haven’t even learned yet—and I’m going to do it all within the 3-hour class. So far, that hasn’t really worked out, although I have made some pretty awesome basic beads!

Generally with these types of classes, the instructor does a few demos, either at the beginning or throughout the class. Those are the techniques you’ll focus on that evening. It can be dots, flowers, shaped beads, or decorating with stringer (very thin strings of glass). You could make round beads, character beads, or spacer beads. There are so many options! As my teacher says, I’m a bit ADD when it comes to beadmaking.

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I’m finding now at the end of ten weeks, I need to go back to the basics. The instructor started the class by saying she could teach an entire ten-week (30-hour) class just on making basic dot beads. With something like glassmaking, it’s important not to rush. You need to learn the basics before you can expect to whip out beautiful, Pinterest-inspired creations.

But flameworking is an incredibly relaxing form of glassmaking. There’s something almost mesmerizing about working with this gentle—yet completely powerful—flame, melting and bending glass to your will. I’m looking forward to taking more classes and learning what this material has yet to teach me.

What to know if you go

Whether you’re looking to learn a specific glassmaking technique, or just get your feet wet, you’ll be able to do it at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass. Find out how inspiring glass can be during a Make Your Own Glass experience, or dive in with a weekend workshop, or a more intense course. A wide range of classes are available at The Studio throughout the year.

Places

The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass, Museum Way, Corning, NY, United States
800.732.6845

The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass, Museum Way, Corning, NY, United States
800.732.6845
http://www.cmog.org

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